KLUTTZ: Why Natural and Cultural belong together

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
A view of Jordan Lake in Chatham County. Jordan Lake is home to Jordan Lake State Recreational Area.

You might wonder what a state park and a symphony have in common. Or maybe you think the zoo and historic preservation are unusual partners. It may seem that each is different from the other, but I would disagree. All are state treasures and welcome guests from near and far to encourage conservation, preservation and add to the quality of life we enjoy in North Carolina.North Carolina is rich in these treasures and I was delighted that Gov. Pat McCrory recommended that North Carolina’s natural resources be transferred to the Department of Cultural Resources to become the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. With this name change, four divisions created the Nature component to join with Arts, History and Library into one great agency. Together, we continue to promote all of the state-owned treasures that make North Carolina such an amazing place.The 2015 budget included this change, and the details of issues, such as budget and human resources, have taken nearly a year to complete. The governor made it clear that this should be a merger instead of a transfer — that he wanted these two groups to work as one. Today, I am happy to report that this merger has been a success and is a very “natural” marriage of two very similar divisions.I learned from a yearlong tour of North Carolina’s cities and towns in 2014 to rally support for the Historic Preservation Tax Credits that preserving our historic buildings, which our citizens recognized as treasures of this state in our Cultural department, was very similar to conserving our parks, rivers and streams in our Natural department.Some of the many advantages are obvious. Most importantly, together we can operate more efficiently and can cross-market and promote both state sites and their regions to increase tourism.So today, North Carolinians can enjoy an amazing collection, all housed in one department. Joining 27 historic sites, seven history museums including three maritime museums, two art museums, the state symphony, the state arts council, historic preservation, state archives, the state library, state archaeology including underwater archaeology, state records, and historical publications are 35 state parks, four recreation areas, 20 natural areas, seven lakes, four rivers, five trails, the state zoo, two museums of natural sciences, three aquariums, Jeanette’s Pier, Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. Wow!When I was originally appointed as the secretary of Cultural Resources in 2012, the governor made it clear that my focus would be on using the department for economic development, job creation and tourism. But now, especially with the addition of natural resources, I have learned that North Carolina is unique in having such an abundance of these treasures because they provide not only an economic advantage, but also the quality of life that makes our state the wonderful place that it is.Our greatest hope is that we preserve the best of North Carolina for the future so that our children and grandchildren will be left with a better North Carolina than we found it. That is our goal.Susan Kluttz, from Salisbury, is secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.