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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
  • , 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

The Office of Environmental Education was created in 1993 to educate the public – and North Carolina youth in particular – about what constitutes the environment that supports us. Several of the department's health agencies were altered to meet public concerns about infant mortality, AIDS, septic tank systems and rabies. Those and other administrative changes between 1990 and 1996 resulted in an increase in Department manpower. Staffing reached 4,650 by 1997. The growing response to environmental problems brought an infusion of money for inspectors, new regulatory powers and a speed-up of the permit processes.

North Carolina’s state parks system received major attention in the mid-1990s. Voters approved a $35 million bond package in 1993 for capital improvements to a deteriorating park system and land purchases to expand some parks. Two years later, the General Assembly for the first time gave the troubled parks system a guaranteed future source of funding – 75 percent of what the state had been taking from the excise tax on real estate tax transfers will now go to support our parks.

As the 1990s dawned, legislators allocated substantial sums of money for programs to clean up the most dangerous of 10,000 underground gasoline storage tanks thought to be leaking at any given time in the state. Some of the state's gasoline tax revenues have been earmarked to help owners clean up tank spills.

By the mid-1990s, the fund was facing a deficit because of the overwhelming costs involved and the large numbers of underground tanks potentially leaking beneath North Carolina's soil. The department also began to respond to new concerns about fish kills, polluted streams and run-off of nitrogen and other substances into rivers and creeks. In 1995 and 1996, animal waste spills into rivers in eastern North Carolina led to a stiffening of waste management requirements; the addition of inspectors to its water quality and its soil and water conservation divisions; and training requirements for farm operators.

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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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