A long legislative struggle that lasted three full sessions of the General Assembly brought the state’s first comprehensive, modern water pollution control law in 1951. The cornerstone of North Carolina’s early 19th Century effort to affect our environmental lifestyle - water and geology - was finally being forged into law.
The N.C. 1951 State Stream Sanitation Act (renamed in 1967 as the Water and Air Resources Act) became the bedrock for today’s complex and inclusive efforts to protect the state’s water resources. The act also provided an important part of the legal basis for today’s water pollution control program. It established a pollution abatement and control program based on classifications and water quality standards applied to the surface waters of North Carolina.
By 1959, the General Assembly had created the Department and Board of Water Resources, moving the State Stream Sanitation Committee and its programs into the new department. In 1967 the agency was renamed the Department of Water and Air Resources. The department remained active in water pollution control and continued to develop a new air pollution control program.
The Division of Forest Resources expanded its comprehensive services during the 1950-1970s, as did many of the state agencies concerned with the growing complexity of environmental issues. The nation’s first Forest Insect and Disease Control Program was set up within the division in 1950. The Tree Improvement Program began in 1963. The Forestation Program was added in 1969 and the first Educational State Forest became operational in 1976.
For the first half of this century, North Carolina’s state parks grew simply through the generosity of public-spirited citizens. Appropriations for operations were minimal until the State Parks Program was established within the N.C. Forest Service in 1935. The parks were busy sites for military camps in the 1940s, but isolated leisure spots for most of the years before and after World War II.
Secretaries of Environment and Natural Resources1