Colonization of California remained largely Mexican until the 1840s. The first US overland trip was made in 1826, but US settlement did not become significant until the 1840s. Political events in the territory moved swiftly in the next few years. On July 7th, 1848, California became part of the United States. In the same year, there was a gold rush in the territory, and with it came a huge increase in population and a pressing need for a civil government. In 1849, Californians sought statehood and, after a heated debate in the US Congress, California finally entered the Union as a free, nonslavery state, in the year 1850.
California embraces the greatest diversity of climate and terrain. The state’s six life zones are: the desert, foothill regions and some coastal lands, coastal areas and moist northeastern counties, and the Canadian, Hudsonian, and Arctic zones, comprising California’s highest elevations. Plant life in the arid climate features a diversity of native cactus, the Joshua tree, the desert poppy, and a variety of asters. Valley oak, small shrubs, stunted trees, herbaceous plants, mint, viola, the golden poppy also flourish in this zone. Animal life is abundant. It includes the black-tailed deer, black bear, gray fox, elk, garter snakes, rattlesnakes. The kingfisher, chickadee, towhee, and hummingbird represent the bird life of this region. The Resources Agency of California’s Department of Fish and Game is especially active in listing and providing protection for rare, threatened and endangered fauna. Joint efforts by state and federal wildlife agencies have established an ambitious recovery program to revitalize the dwindling population of the native animals and birds. The endangered animals include the mountain beaver, kit fox, Pacific pocket mouse, kangaroo rat, sage sparrow, garter snake, five species of salamander, eleven types of butterflies, and more. California has a total of 290, 821 acres of National Wildlife Refuges.
California is leading by example on energy efficiency and conservation, sustainability, green building, and green purchasing practices throughout state government. California is working to reduce energy and resource consumption in state buildings, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and creating healthier environments in which to work, live and learn. Sustainability or green building is the practice of designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and removing buildings in ways that conserve natural resources and reduce their impact on climate change; California is ensuring so. The state is advocating the procurement of goods and services that have a reduced impact on human health, called Environmentally Preferable Purchasing; in simple terms, it means ‘buying green’. New building or large renovation projects initiated by the state also evaluate the merits of clean on-site power generation such as solar panels and fuel cells. State agencies are taking measures to reduce grid-based energy purchases. Integrating renewable energy producing technologies into state buildings reduce the amount of energy consumed from the grid.