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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
  • Lacy Presnell, General Counsel - (919) 707-8616 
  • 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
  • Vacant, Director, Human Resources - (919) 707-8323

  • , 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

By 1925, the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey took another step in its evolution, becoming the Department of Conservation and Development. The new department consolidated many natural resource functions. Its original focus was on geology, but its involvement in managing many other associated natural resources also grew.

Although the Depression slowed business at all levels, public programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were a boon to North Carolina’s natural resource programs. More than 76,000 CCC workers fanned out across the state, constructing fire towers, bridges, erosion control dams and buildings, planting trees and fighting forest fires. Many of the facilities in our state parks built by the CCC are still in use today.

The Division of Forest Resources established its nursery seedling program in 1924, adding a management branch in 1937 and creating a State Parks Program as a branch operation in 1935. A full-time superintendent of State Parks was hired and the stage was set for parks management to develop into division status by 1948.

By the late 1930s, interest had declined in managing the state’s geological and mineral resources, the function that has sparked the organizational push for natural resource management in the first place. Geological and mineralogical investigations at both federal and state levels were poorly supported financially. From 1926-1940, the Division of Mineral Resources was literally a one-man show, operated by the State Geologist.

The war years (1938-1945) provided new impetus for state involvement in managing North Carolina’s geological and mineral resources thanks to the need for minerals to meet wartime shortages.

The state and the U.S. Geological Survey undertook an ambitious cooperative effort in 1941, beginning with a ground water resources study. That effort continued through 1959, when the Department of Water Resources was formed. Also in 1941, North Carolina conducted a far-ranging study of geology and mineral resources in the western regions of North Carolina in cooperation with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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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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