Tennessee was first visited by Spanish explorers in 1540, and the area was later claimed by both France and England as a result of the 1670s and 1680s explorations. Great Britain obtained the area after the French and Indian Wars in 1763. In 1790, Congress organized the territory south of the Ohio River, and Tennessee joined the Union in 1796. Although Tennessee joined the Confederacy during the Civil War, there was much pro-Union sentiment in the state, which was the scene of extensive military action.
Tennessee has an abundance of flora, including at least 150 kinds of native trees. Tulip poplar, shortleaf pine, chestnut, black and red oaks, hickory, ash, gum maple, black walnut, sycamore, cottonwood, cypress, mountain laurel are plentiful in the area.
Tennessee mammals include the raccoon, white-tailed deer, black bear bobcat, muskrat, woodchuck, opossum, red and gray foxes, and the European wild boar.
Tennessee’s Wildlife Resources Agency conducts an endangered and threatened species protection program. 76 animal species are now considered threatened or endangered, including 7 species of darter (especially the snail darter), gray and Indiana bats, pallid sturgeon, bald eagle, least tern, flying squirrel, and white wartyback pearlymussel.
Office of Environmental Assistance has initiated the Tennessee Green Schools Program, which is a part of Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership, an initiative of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Community Assistance. Green Schools involve students in campus and community projects that reduce waste, conserve energy and water, decrease hazardous chemicals, improve air quality, and create wildlife habitat. They raise environmental awareness among students, parents, staff, and the local community. Environmental management improves school’s ecological footprint, while saving money at the same time.
To support sustainability endeavors, the various state departments are implementing economically-sound and environmentally responsible Green Initiatives Program. For example, Agricultural Extension Services focus on issues relating to agriculture and the environment, food safety/quality and health, and management of natural resources; the Health Department focuses on promoting, protecting and improving the overall quality of Tennessee life and health, and places special emphasis on environmental health (such as quality air and water); the government funds development of parklands and other such facilities that include forest state parks, park conservancies, and fuller state parks with abundance of flora and fauna.
Several other measures have been taken by the state to reduce, reuse, and recycle to lessen carbon footprint. They include: recycling plastic bottles and containers, aluminum cans and cardboard boxes; installation of high-efficiency cleaning-machines, lighting systems, heating/cooling devices, etc; switching to non-phosphorus detergents as cleaning agents to reduce impact on waste water; encouraging use of convertible garment bags instead of traditional poly bags; switching marketing communication to web-based operations to reduce paper consumption, etc. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation works towards protecting and improving the quality of Tennessee’s land, air and water. It preserves open spaces and forges public-private partnerships to promote natural resource stewardship.