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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

With the health functions of DEHNR growing at a rate matching the growth of environmental pressures, the 1996 General Assembly divided the department once again. On June 1, 1997, health functions were transferred to the Department of Human Resources – which changed its name, as well. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was born.

In 2000 the General Assembly passed the million acre goal into law. The law established a goal for the state of North Carolina to protect an additional million acres of farmland, open space and other conservation lands. Consequently, much of the department’s

focus during the 2000's was on making progress towards this goal, including the development of the One North Carolina Naturally initiative and of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

In 2002 the General Assembly, responding to concerns about public health impacts and loss of mountain views from air pollution, passed the landmark Clean Smokestacks Act. The legislation required significant reductions of harmful air pollutants, such as NOx and SO2, from the state's 14 coal-fired power plants. The Clean Smokestacks Act also had the benefit of decreasing mercury emissions and set the stage for the state's ongoing efforts to address climate change impacts in North Carolina.

As North Carolina's population grew at historic rates during the 2000's, so did the environmental challenges posed by this unprecedented growth. DENR led efforts to protect water quality through the enactment of more stringent stormwater regulations in urban areas and in the state's coastal counties. In addition, the General Assembly passed the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007, which strengthened existing landfill regulations and established new parameters to guide the state's efforts to manage its solid waste disposal.

After several years of drought, which led to water shortages for numerous residents and businesses across all regions of the state, the General Assembly, with support from the administration, approved legislation intended to help the state better manage periods of drought. The 2008 Drought bill included provisions to improve water use data; to reduce drought vulnerability; and for quicker response to water shortage emergencies.

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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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