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Green Initiatives & Environmental History for: Washington DC

Basic History

As part of the vast Oregon Country, Washington territory was visited by Spanish, American and British explorers in 1775, 1792, and 1794, respectively. Rival American and British settlers and conflicting territorial claims threatened war in the early 1840s. However, in 1846 the Oregon Treaty set the boundary at the 49th parallel and war was averted. Washington Territory was set up in 1853. The territory absorbed large numbers of foreign immigrants like the Chinese, Germans, Scandinavians, Russians, Dutch, and Japanese. Washington became a state in 1889.

Environmental History

Sand strawberries, beach peas, fennel, spurry, greasewood, sagebrush, Douglas fir, western hemlock, Alaska cedar, big-leaf maple, red alder, and black cottonwood are among the characteristic trees that have been identified in Washington. Forest and mountain regions support black-tailed and mule deer, elk, and black bear. Other native mammals include the lynx, red fox, red western bobcat, raccoon, muskrat, porcupine, and mink. 30 animal species are now listed threatened or endangered in Washington, including the Columbian white-tailed deer, short-tailed albatross, brown pelican, pygmy rabbit, humpback whale, and two species of sea turtle.

Green Initiatives

Washington Gas has a Green Procurement policy which serves to encourage the use of recycled and environmentally preferable goods. During the vendor selection process, potential vendor’s sustainability practices are evaluated. Washington has unveiled a new green agenda, listing hundreds of projects across state agencies. The agenda items cover the following areas: homes, schools, neighborhoods, and communities, parks and natural areas, transit, jobs, economic development, and climate change. Environmental Protection Agency, Water and Sewer Authority, Natural Resources Defense Council and Casey Trees are together making headway in the effort to develop the state into a cleaner and greener place to live and work. The state is setting other “green” examples with: “green building” policies that focus on energy conservation, pollution prevention, sustainability, and waste reduction. “Green strategies” include: using biodegradable bags to dispose waste; sustainable landscaping; recycling; environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP); and ride sharing programs. Washington Express is working to reduce carbon footprint by implementing the following initiatives: replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescents; using water filtration system; recycling paper products, cardboard, toner cartridges, and plastic containers in work areas; and using electronic faxes and electronic document format for billing, thus, reducing paper consumption.

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