West Virginia’s early history from 1609 until 1863 is largely shared with Virginia, of which it was a part until Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861. The delegates of the 40 western counties who opposed secession formed their own government, which was granted statehood in 1863.
With its varied topography and climate, West Virginia provides a natural habitat for more than 3200 species of plants, and they include the oak, maple, poplar, walnut, hickory, birch, hemlock, pine, spruce, the box huckleberry, and Kate’s mountain clover. The small whorled pogonia, northeastern bulrush and running buffalo clover are now considered endangered.
West Virginia fauna includes the gray wolf, puma, elk, bison, black bear, white-tailed deer, the wildcat, raccoon, skunk, woodchuck, opossum, gray and red foxes, squirrels, and cottontail rabbits.
15 animal species that are now listed threatened or endangered in West Virginia include: the bald eagle, gray/Indiana and big-eared bats, and several species of pearlymussel.
West Virginia Greenworks Inc. is a statewide program that focuses on training workers in emerging green careers, including in high-performance building, renewable and alternative energy, and energy conservation. The new initiative also offers sustainability information and training in other key arenas, including transportation, air quality, water and waste water management, land use and planning, and forestry and agriculture. The mission of the Green Initiative is to spearhead and develop new programs promoting environmental stewardship and the growth of the ‘green economy’ throughout the Mountain State.
The state is working untiringly toward developing green infrastructure, sustainable communities, promising energy technologies, and clean energy policies. Some of the projects include: Recovery Act Investments in Clean Energy; Appliance Efficiency Standards; Efficiency Standards for Vehicles; monitoring emissions; protecting water bodies; land conservation; restoring ecosystems; limiting mercury emissions into the environment; minimizing adverse environmental consequences of mountaintop coal mining; and passing the National Environmental Policy Act that enhances the quality of public involvement in governmental decisions relating to the environment and easing implementation.
The government is also adopting a variety of easy approaches to yield quantifiable results in greening fleets, including avoiding unnecessary travel and using alternative-fuel vehicles.