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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - History of DENR

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  • Secretary's Office - (919) 707-8600
  • John. E. Skvarla, III, Secretary - (919) 707-8600
    • Alice MIller, Assistant - (919) 707-8625
  • Donald van der Vaart, Deputy Secretary - (919) 707-8475
  • John C. Evans, General Counsel - (919) 707-8474
  • Mitch Gillespie, Assist. Sec. for Environment - (919) 707-8619
    • Cindy Hobbs, Assistant - (919) 707-8643
  • Brad Ives, Assist. Sec. for Natural Resources - (919) 707-8620
    • Cindy Hobbs, Assistant - (919) 707-8643
  • , Ombudsman - (919) 707-8623
  • , Communications Director - (919) 707-8626
  • , Director of Legislative Affairs - (919) 707-8618
    • Caroline Daly, Assistant - (919) 707-8642
  • , Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs - (919) 707-8310
  • , Chief Information Officer - (919) 707-8917
  • , Chief Financial Officer - (919) 707-8561
  • , Director, Human Resources - (919) 707-8303

  • , Disaster Response Coordinator & Chief, N.C. Geological Survey Section - (919) 707-9211

 

About DENR

A Short History of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

North Carolina began enforcing game laws in 1738, even before statehood became a fact. Today we identify that act as the beginning of the process to form what we know today as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

By 1850, the state had embarked on an ambitious earth sciences program to include not only physical sciences but also agricultural and forestry functions. In 1823, the North Carolina Geological Survey was formed, later expanded, and in 1905 renamed the N.C. Geological and Economic Survey – the forerunner organization to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

State direction on environmental matters picked up speed as the 20th century dawned. As early as 1899, the State Board of Health was given some statutory powers over water pollution affecting sources of domestic water supply. The state’s power to control the pollution of North Carolina’s water resources has remained constant since.

The state employed its first graduate forester in June of 1909, leading to the creation of the North Carolina Forest Service (known today as the Division of Forest Resources) in 1915. When it was established, the service’s only task was to prevent and control wildfires.

Also in 1915, the state parks system was born when Gov. Locke Craig moved the General Assembly to save Mount Mitchell before loggers could ruin it. Legislators created Mount Mitchell State Park in response to the governor’s request.

That same year federal and state laws were passed to protect watersheds and streams. The General Assembly established the North Carolina Fisheries Commission Board, charging it with the stewardship and management of the state’s fishery resources. The board has the administrative power to regulate fisheries, enforce fishery laws and regulations, operate hatcheries and carry out shellfish rehabilitation activities.

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Secretaries of Environment and Natural Resources1

NameResidenceTerm
Roy G. Sowers2Lee1971
Charles W. Bradshaw, Jr.3Wake1971-1973
James E. Harrington4Avery1973-1976
George W. Little5Wake1976-1977
Howard N. Lee6Orange1977-1981
Joseph W. Grimsley7Wake1981-1983
James A. Summer8Rowan1984-1985
S. Thomas Rhodes9New Hanover1985-1988
William W. Cobey, Jr.10Orange1989-1993
Jonathan B. HowesOrange1993-1997
Wayne McDevitt11Madison1997-1999
Bill Holman12Wake1999-2001
William G. RossOrange2001-2009
Dee A. FreemanWake2009-2012
John E. Skvarla, IIIMoore2012 - present
  1. The Executive Organization Act, passed by the 1971 General Assembly, created the Department of Natural and Economic Resources with provisions for a secretary appointed by the governor. The 1977 General Assembly took further steps in government reorganization, renaming the agency the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development. NRCD was reorganized and renamed by legislative action in the 1989 General Assembly.
  2. Sowers was appointed by Governor Scott and served until his resignation effective November 30, 1971.
  3. Bradshaw was appointed by Governor Scott and served until his resignation in 1973.
  4. Harrington was appointed on January 5, 1973, by Governor Holshouser to replace Bradshaw. He resigned effective February 29, 1976.
  5. Little was appointed on March 1, 1976, by Governor Holshouser to replace Harrington.
  6. Lee was appointed on January 10, 1977, by Governor Hunt to replace Little. He resigned effective July 31, 1981.
  7. Grimsley was appointed on August 1, 1981, to replace Lee. He resigned effective December 31, 1983.
  8. Summers was appointed on January 1, 1984, by Governor Hunt. He resigned effective January 5, 1985.
  9. Rhodes was appointed January 7, 1985, by Governor Martin to replace Grimsley.
  10. Cobey was appointed by Governor Martin in January 1989.
  11. McDevitt was appointed by Governor Hunt in August 1997.
  12. Holman was appointed by Governor Hunt in September 1999.
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