Spanish explorers were the first to visit the region in the 16th and 17th centuries. A short-lived French colony was established in 1685. Americans began to settle along the Brazos River in 1821 when Texas was controlled by Mexico. In 1836, following a brief war between the American settlers in Texas and the Mexican government, the Independent Republic of Texas was proclaimed. After Texas became a state in 1845, border disputes led to the Mexican War of 1846-1848.
Texas has more than 20 native trees, of which the catclaw, flowering mimosa, black persimmon, weeping juniper, cottonwood, cypress, the American white elm, magnolia, white oak, orchids are abundant across the state. Texas wild rice and several cactus species are classified as endangered throughout the state.
The red wolf, white-tailed deer, the nine-banded armadillo, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion inhabit different areas of the state. Owing to human encroachment, most of them are steadily disappearing despite efforts by naturalists throughout the United States to save them.
The state has its own wildlife protection programs, but 63 animal species are now listed as threatened or endangered, including the Mexican long-nosed bat, Louisiana black bear, bald eagle, Mexican spotted owl, Texas blind salamander, Houston toad, two species of whale, and five species of turtle.
Texas is continuing to make great strides with innovative environmental initiatives. Some of them include: encouraging state dwellers to purchase water conservation kit; encouraging rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, and landscaping with native plants; ensuring clean air, clean water, and safe management of wastes with several projects initiated by The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; plans entail adding several energy efficient features including small-scale wind energy conversion system, solar panel array, solar water heating systems, electric vehicle charging stations, and interactive display modules for environmental education; supporting community gardens; recycling all plastics, aluminum, tin, steel, newspapers, paper grocery bags, magazines, corrugated cardboard, chipboard, phone books, junk mail, and glass containers; encouraging green building and LEED Certification; and having high-efficiency energy systems in place.