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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

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.

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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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