Spanish explorers searching for gold traveled the region that became New Mexico in 1540-42. In 1598, the first Spanish settlement was established. The U.S. acquired most of New Mexico in 1848, as a result of the Mexican War. Union troops captured the territory from the Confederates during the Civil War. A bid for statehood with an anti-slavery constitution was halted in 1850. In the same year New Mexico was organized as a territory without restriction on slavery. Statehood was finally granted in 1912.
Characteristic vegetation includes juniper woodland, sagebrush, ponderosa pine, oak woodlands, mixed conifer and aspen forests, spruce/fir forests and meadows, tundra wild flowers and riparian shrubs. 13 plant species are now listed threatened or endangered, including the prickly poppy, Moncos milk-vetch, and two species of cacti.
Indigenous animals include the pronghorn antelope, javelina, black-throated sparrow, mule and white-tailed deer, ringtail, elk, wild turkey, black bear, hairy woodpecker, bighorn sheep, and pika. 29 New Mexican animal species are now classified as threatened or endangered, including two species of bat, whooping crane, bald eagle, Mexican spotted owl, three species of shiner, and razorback sucker.
New Mexico is leading the way with sweeping green initiatives. The Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, for example, conducts full energy audits. Projects resulting from energy audits include replacing old HVAC units; replacing existing lighting system with high efficiency T5 lights, delamping and adding motion sensors in office spaces; insulating the warehouse, thus saving gas to keep areas of it warm; removing all plastic, glass and metal from the waste before it is sent to a composting station; they are partnering with authorities that have green waste recycling programs to accept food waste, along with local recycling firms to bale and send boxes for proper recycling instead of throwing them into the landfill; and reducing carbon footprint.
New Mexico’s Green Filmmaking Initiative is a voluntary program to encourage environmentally sensitive film and television production. The New Mexico Film Office offers online materials to productions about the use of alternative materials and environmentally friendly practices which would include information on: recycling, purchasing organic products, donating unused/unwanted items to welfare organizations, using non-toxic/low-toxic supplies and paints, leasing hybrid/electric vehicles, using biodiesel for generators, using alternative and biofuels for all other vehicles, water management/rainwater harvesting, and waste reduction techniques, among others.