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At the close of the American Revolution, Great Britain formally surrendered all lands east of the Mississippi to the United States. The territory of Mississippi included parts of the present-day Alabama, but the land was largely a wilderness with a considerable fur trade and beginnings of cotton cultivation. However, both the fur trade and cotton production had to be interrupted during a war in 1812 when new settlers poured into the Alabama region from Georgia and Tennessee. The wealthy newcomers settled in the fertile bottomlands, established large plantations and produced cotton. The poorer ones took over the less fertile uplands, where they eked out a living. The population eventually grew to such an extent that the Territory of Alabama was set up in 1817, and two years later in 1819, it officially became a state.
Alabama was once covered by vast forests of pine, which still form the largest proportion of the state’s forest growth. Alabama has an abundance of cypress, hickory, oak, and various gum trees. Red cedar grows throughout the state. There are more than 150 shrubs, and cultivated plants include wisteria and camellia. In a state where large herds of bison, elk, bear and deer once roamed, only the white-tailed deer remains abundant. Ninety-seven animals, fish and birds (including the Alabama beach mouse, gray bat, red-belly turtle, bald eagle, finback and humpback whales, and wood stork), and eighteen plant species are now listed endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The ‘Go-Green Initiatives’ of the Going Green Project, GreenSense LLC, etc, highlight some of the important developments toward making Alabama a greener place to live, work and play. The environmental legislation and policies include: stricter standards for more than 50 cancer-causing pollutants; landfill fee and recycling initiative; tougher fines for illegal hunting and fishing; habitat and species protection; nature conservation; ensuring greener cities and green buildings in terms of renewable energy, public transit, recycling and setting aside land for parks and nature preserves; reduced waste and water consumption; media, business and festivals regularly scheduling ‘green’ features; expansion in the use of renewable and alternative energy sources; ‘clean fuel’ movement like use of biofuels/biodiesel; Statewide water plan resolution and provision of water conservation kits to Alabama residents which include leak-detection tablets, toilet-displacement bags to reduce water usage, lawn watering gauge, etc; expanding urban parkland and open spaces; use of innovative and creative techniques to revitalize blighted, contaminated lands for productive, new uses.
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