North Carolina’s coast was possibly first explored by Spanish navigators in 1524. The first permanent settlements took place around 1653. In 1712, North Carolina was made a separate colony. The British government made North Carolina a royal colony in 1729. Thereafter the region developed more rapidly. In 1784, North Carolina ceded its western lands to the United States. Considerable antislavery sentiment existed until the 1830s. The Reconstruction constitution of 1868 abolished slavery. The turn of the twentieth century marked the beginning of a new progressive era, and new interest was created in developing the state’s agricultural and industrial resources. Industrialization burgeoned after World War II.
North Carolina has approximately 300 species and subspecies of trees, and almost 3000 varieties of flowering plants. Sea oats, saltmeadow, cordgrass, wax myrtle, red cedar, live oak, cypress, gum trees, pond pine, longleaf pine, turkey oak, Virginia pine, sweet gum, tulip poplars, Carolina Hemlock, silver bell, yellow buckeye, white basswood, sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, spruce and fir are abundant in the region. 27 plant species are listed threatened or endangered, including bunched arrowhead, Heller’s blazingstar, seabeach amaranth, and rough-leaved loosestrife.
The white-tailed deer, the black bear, the wild boar, and beavers are commonly found in animal species.
The gray wolf, elk, eastern cougar, and bison are extinct in North Carolina. 36 animal species that are listed threatened or endangered include Indiana and Virginia big-eared bats, bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, four species of whale, and five species of sea turtle.
NC GreenPower is an independent, non-profit organization that is working to improve North Carolina’s environment through voluntary contributions toward renewable energy and mitigation of greenhouse gases. It is a green energy program supported by all the state’s utilities, and supplements the state’s existing power supply with more green energy- electricity generated from renewable energy sources like the sun, wind, and organic matter. It also offers carbon offsets to address growing concerns about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment.
With growing interest in energy and water savings, more and more government facilities are adopting sustainability policies and green building a requirement, leading to a greater awareness of the impact government has on North Carolina economy and natural resources. North Carolina government is an important contributor to the state’s environmental quality in three main areas: as a whole, the government is the single largest organization, consuming energy and natural resources and creating waste and other environmental impacts; it creates laws and policies that shape the economic growth of the state and its impacts on the environment; is a highly-visible role model for the state’s citizens, businesses, industries and local governments. The state’s Project Green includes: Cool Cities Resolution; assessments to save fuel and reducing air pollution; Climate Action; and NC League of Municipalities Green Challenge.