The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead stewardship agency for the preservation and protection of North Carolina's outstanding natural resources. The organization, which has offices from the mountains to the coast, administers regulatory programs designed to protect air quality, water quality, and the public's health. DENR also offers technical assistance to businesses, farmers, local governments, and the public and encourages responsible behavior with respect to the environment through education programs provided at DENR facilities and through the state's school system. Through its natural resource divisions, DENR works to protect fish, wildlife and wilderness areas. The agency's activities range from helping to make sure drinking water is safe to managing state parks and forests for safe and enjoyable outdoor recreation experiences. From A (aquariums on the coast) to Z (the N.C. Zoological Park), DENR touches the lives of all North Carolinians and our guests in many ways to enhance and ensure our quality of life.

The department is organized into the Secretary's office and staff, administration, divisions, programs, regional offices, boards, councils and commissions.

Secretary's Office

William G. Ross Jr., Secretary

Dempsey Benton, Chief Deputy Secretary

Robin Smith, Assistant Secretary Planning/Policy

Healthy Environment / Sound Economy

In a perfect world, there would be no need for regulations and controls. Today's pressure on a fragile environment however, demands a sensible program to streamline the permit process and to monitor our water and air resources.

Eight of the department's divisions and offices are united under the umbrella of Environmental Protection.

The Division of Water Quality issues permits, monitors permit compliance, evaluates water quality and is the state's enforcement agency for violators of water and groundwater quality regulations. Its technicians and scientists also help publicly-owned and municipal wastewater and water treatment plants through technical aid and financing.

The Division of Air Quality regulates the quality of the air in North Carolina through technical assistance to industries and enforcement of state and federal air pollution standards. The division issues permits, establishes ambient air quality standards, monitors the air quality of the state and operates a vehicle inspection/maintenance program.

Two divisions of the department target the handling and disposal of the growing volume of wastes in North Carolina. The Division of Waste Management regulates the management of hazardous and solid wastes in North Carolina; its Superfund Section evaluates uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

The Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance -- with a focus on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - offers technical assistance and grants for businesses, industries and governments. Its staff also provides permit information and assistance on cost-effective ways to meet environmental regulations, particularly for small businesses.

Our Coastal Management Division, responsible for the environmental health of 20 coastal counties, works closely with local governments to strengthen the relationship between tourism and the environment. It regulates development, helps plan for future growth, and manages the state's coastal reserves.

The splitting of the atom has spawned a world of environmental concerns and hazards for mankind not faced by other generations.

The Division of Radiation Protection confronts that task with a radiation surveillance and control program to license, regulate and monitor radiation hazards to North Carolinians and their environment.

Our Division of Land Resources guards our state's mineral and land resources through programs to monitor dam safety, to regulate mining and reclaim abandoned mines, to control sediment and erosion, and to survey our land and its resources.

Their efforts of preservation and protection work in tandem with those of our Division of Water Resources. The hydrologists and scientists of the division catalogue our water supplies, plan for its future use, carry out extensive water conservation programs, and take any environmental steps necessary to keep our water pure and usable.

The Division of Environmental Health monitors environmental hazards to our health, ranging from the water we drink to the food we eat in restaurants. Its programs also involve our public water supplies, shellfish sanitation, control of pests and technical assistance for those who treat our wastewater.

Stewardship of Natural Resources

The gifts of nature bestowed upon North Carolina are the building blocks of the environment that serves each of us. The goal of protecting and preserving those natural resources is a challenge for DENR.

The eight divisions and offices that support the Goal encourage the preservation of resources and display nature's gifts for the public's enjoyment. Together, they underscore "protection of entire ecosystems" while opening nature to recreation and education about the environment

The Division of Marine Fisheries establishes and enforces rules governing coastal fisheries, with programs on scientific research, cultivation, and harvesting and marketing of shellfish and finfish.

Our Division of Soil and Water Conservation conducts programs to slow the loss of millions of tons of topsoil yearly across North Carolina, to control agriculture pollution, to protect our watersheds and to map our wetlands.

The Division of Forest Resources protects and develops the state's forest resources. Its programs include forest management, assistance to private landowners, reforestation, forest fire prevention and suppression, and control of forest insects and diseases.

From the mountains to the coast, The Division of Parks and Recreation administers a diverse system of state-operated parks, natural areas, trails, lakes, natural and scenic rivers and recreation areas.

One of the state's most ambitious natural resource projects is the NC Zoological Park in Asheboro. It displays representative species of animal and plant life from around the world, offering programs to conserve, preserve and protect endangered and threatened plant and animal species.

The Office of Environmental Education is a clearinghouse for environmental education programs and materials available to North Carolinians. Its programs provide educators, students and the public with teacher training workshops and family educational experiences.

An important stewardship responsibility of DENR is to catalogue our marine and aquatic resources, past and present. A growing collection of natural resources in North Carolina and other Southeastern states is on display at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences.

Three coastal aquariums (at Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher and Roanoke Island) are managed by our North Carolina Aquariums to promote appreciation for the state's ocean, estuaries, rivers, streams and other aquatic environments.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Administration of programs operated by more than 4,000 employees in DENR demands attention to procedure and accountability. Our administrative divisions manage that work under a framework that focuses on the needs of the public served and the needs of those providing the services. The Controller and the Division of Budget, Planning and Analysis spotlight Efficiency and Effectiveness through professional operations, innovative funding, budget flexibility and new funding partnerships.

Taking care of the space and office needs of more than 4,000 employees is the work of the Division of Purchase and Services. Providing comprehensive personnel administration and human resources management is the focus of the Division of Human Resources.

In today's business world, it's difficult to keep pace with the advances of computers and their ability to simplify and reduce work loads. That task is carried out by the department's Information Technology Services.

Several offices work directly with the department Secretary in support of departmental policies. They are the General Counsel, who provides legal support for the department, and the Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs office that keeps communications open between government and legislative units. The Office of Public Affairs is the link between what the department does and the public, and provides DENR with computer graphics, photography, editorial services and Internet page design.

Working with the department Secretary under its own legislative mandate is the Wildlife Resources Commission, which regulates and guides the preservation and protection of the state's wildlife resources.

Return to DENR Home Page.