Spanish and English sailors are believed to have sighted the Oregon coast in the 1500s and 1600s. Disputes for control of Oregon between American settlers and the Hudson Bay Company were finally resolved in the 1846 Oregon Treaty, in which Great Britain gave up claims to the region. In 1848, the Oregon Territory was created, but the area was reduced with the creation of Washington Territory in 1853, and Oregon became a state in 1859 with a constitution that prohibited slaveholding but also forbade free blacks from entering the state.
With its variety of climatic conditions and surface features, Oregon has a diverse assortment of vegetation and wildlife. Spruce, hemlock, cedar, Douglas fir, alder, pines, sagebrush, juniper trees, and sparse grasses cover the region. Among the plant species that are listed as threatened or endangered are: western lily, Willamette daisy, Malheur wire-lettuce, and rough popcornflower.
More than 130 species of mammal are native to Oregon, of which 28 are found throughout the state. Cougar, bear, bighorn sheep, white-tailed, black-tailed and mule deer, elk, and opossum are common.
36 Oregon animal species are now classified threatened or endangered, including the short-tailed albatross, bald eagle, three species of chub, brown pelican, northern spotted owl, and three species of sea turtle.
Oregon is an environmentally aware state with its growing wind power industry and its reputation for energy efficient building projects.
The Green Business Initiative is dedicated to achieving Oregon’s economic and environmental goals by promoting a business climate suited to take advantage of the demand for sustainable practices. Its primary objectives are to: raise awareness of green business practices; train people to become leaders in green business ventures; support the development of new and expanded ventures funding sources for green technologies and business methods; and build infrastructure for future advances in green business.
The state has embraced the challenge with a wide array of environmentally focused laws, policies and practices. Transportation options include: developing bikeways to accommodate bike commuters and leisure bicyclists; promoting car-sharing and timed traffic signals to reduce annual gas consumption. The state has passed responsible development policies which include: The Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Building Policy encouraging green design features with LEED certification; developing more green parklands; landscaping. There is active community engagement in the state regarding household and business recycling and composting. Hospitality sectors in the state offer sustainable travel plans. The state also honors businesses that have taken comprehensive, concrete actions to reduce carbon emissions. Efforts include improving energy efficiency of business operations, providing alternative transportation options and implementing a robust waste reduction and recycling program.