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NC State selling massive forest near Jacksonville

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

N.C. State is selling a massive forest near Jacksonville for $150, million, the school has confirmed.

The Board of Trustees for the Endowment Fund has agreed to terms for the sale of Hofmann Forest, the school said in a news release.

The move will allow for investments  in the College of Natural Resources and continued access for students and faculty.

Jerry Walker, manager of the purchaser, Walker Ag Group, has signed an agreement to buy the 79,000-acre property near Jacksonville, N.C., for $150 million. Walker's family has a large agricultural business based in Illinois.

Walker Ag Group has not said how it plans to use the property. On its website, Walker Ag Group says its main focus is grain production, but is also has businesses in fertilizer storage and distribution, trucking, and land management.

Proceeds from the sale will be placed in an endowment, NCSU said, with the College of Natural Resources expected to get around $6 million per year.

 "The income generated annually by the investment of the sale proceeds will provide tremendous educational and research opportunities for the College of Natural Resources and its students," said N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson.

"As an asset, the forest's full potential was not being realized. We have an obligation to our stakeholders – our students, faculty, staff and alumni – to ensure our colleges are positioned to provide a robust academic environment that attracts world-class faculty and the best and brightest students."

Dean Mary Watzin of the College of Natural Resources said the sale "will be nothing short of transformational for our college."

The forest was purchased by the North Carolina Forestry Foundation Inc. in 1934. The foundation gifted the land to the NC State Endowment Fund in 1977 for the benefit of the College of Natural Resources.

N.C. State said the sale does not affect zoning for the forest, which permits its use for timber and agricultural purposes.

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