William “Bill” John Hart, a lifelong environmental advocate and chairman of the New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, died July 20. He was 95.
According to his obituary and a press release the county sent out Tuesday, Hart spent his career as an environmental consultant and resource management planner, developing management strategies for national parks, game preserves and forests.
After retiring to Wilmington, he focused his efforts as a supervisor with the New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District on creating solutions to manage and protect natural resources in the county and throughout the state. He served as a supervisor for more than 19 years.
County officials noted his role in the creation of the statewide Community Conservation Assistance Program as one of his biggest achievements. The program provides cost-share funding for people to reduce runoff from their property. The statewide program created in 2006 has become a model followed by governments outside of North Carolina.
In addition, Hart helped create the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Awards, which annually recognizes outstanding development projects that protect, conserve, improve and provide awareness of the natural resources in the Lower Cape Fear region.
“Bill has been a mentor to me since my employment with New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District,” said Dru Harrison, Soil and Water Conservation District director. “He provided great insight and support throughout my career, and a huge void will be left in the conservation community without him.”
In 2020, Hart received the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Pelican Award “for Decades of Outstanding Leadership” in restoring North Carolina coastal waters.
A celebration of life for Hart is set for Friday, July 29, according to Andrews Mortuary in Wilmington.
New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District Vice Chair Sue Hayes is assuming the role of acting chair of the board of supervisors until new officers are elected in December. The Soil & Water Conservation District Board is recommending Tom Boland fill Hart’s seat on the board for the remainder of his term through Dec. 5. The board’s recommendation must be approved by the North Carolina Soil and Water Commission.