First explored by the French in the early 1740s, much of the region was acquired by the U.S. from France in 1803. Before western Montana was obtained from Great Britain in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, American trading posts and forts had been established in the territory. Montana itself became a territory in 1864. Statehood was achieved in 1889.
The Montana flora largely consists of coniferous forests, principally alpine fir, and a variety of shrubs. The plains are characterized by an abundance of grasses, cacti, and sagebrush species. Three plant species were threatened which included, Ute ladies’ tresses, Spalding’s catchfly, and water howellia.
Animals of the state include elk, moose, white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat. Rattlesnakes and other reptiles occur in most of the state. Thirteen species were listed as threatened or endangered, including the grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, Eskimo curlew, two species of sturgeon, gray wolf, and whooping crane.
Montanans personally engage in green habits: commuting by bicycle, recycling and reusing, and making energy efficient improvements to their homes. Inspired by the integrity of the citizens, state agencies and universities are joining in the same kinds of sustainable efforts. Initiatives which challenge state agencies to cut power use by 20% and The Green Thread which infuses college curriculum with relevant sustainability topics, demonstrate Montana’s institutional- level commitment to energy conservation and an ecologically sound future. State agencies are being inspired to make the kinds of cost-effective, power-saving changes like getting an energy audit, purchasing energy appliances, and powering down equipment and lights when not in use. The initiative not only saves power but also carbon emissions and money spent on electricity bills.
The Montana Green Building Program’s objective is to give builders, trade contractors, policy makers and consumers a model to follow to significantly reduce the environmental footprint created by new home construction. The program was developed to encourage the construction of green homes. Green homes offer a wide range of benefits, from energy efficiency to improved indoor air quality to lowered operating costs.
In Montana, The Natural Resources Conservation Service offers Environmental Quality Incentives Program special initiatives that are designed specifically to target conservation efforts. The project stabilizes eroding stream and river banks utilizing a variety of bioengineering techniques, also improves aquatic habitat improvements; the initiative retains permanent grass lands, and creates capacity for grazing lands; the fuel break practice assists forest land owners in removing hazardous fuels and improving forest health; minimizes agricultural non-point source pollution of ground water and surface water resources; will ensure long-term existence of land and its associated wetlands for the benefit of local and migratory bird species; addresses forest health and fuel reduction concerns; and improves water quality.