According to California lawmakers, the Joshua Tree is both endangered and expendable.

California Legislature Passes Joshua Tree Protection Law

The new law will be the first in California specifically focused on ensuring protection of a climate-threatened species. The statute provides the trees with protections comparable to those they would receive under the California Endangered Species Act, but with additional permitting mechanisms to address renewable energy and housing projects in their range. It also requires the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare a conservation plan for the trees by the end of 2024.


“The California Endangered Species Act is our most important biodiversity protection law, and western Joshua trees clearly qualify as threatened,” Cummings said. “As the first species in the state to be protected because of climate change, they deserve the special measures contained in the new conservation act.”

The provisions of the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act include:

  • Prohibiting unpermitted killing or removal of the trees.
  • Requiring a conservation plan for the species.
  • Creating a fund to acquire and manage lands to protect the species.
  • Creating a permitting regime expected to be faster and cheaper than the state endangered species act.
  • Requiring regular reviews of the species’ status and the effectiveness of the permitting regime and conservation plan.
  • Requiring consultation with California Native American Tribes on the law’s implementation.
  • Background


Solar project to destroy thousands of Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert

BORON, Calif. — A renewable energy company will soon begin clearing thousands of protected Joshua trees just outside this desert town, including many thought to be a century old, to make way for a sprawling solar project that will generate power for 180,000 homes in wealthier coastal neighborhoods.

The 2,300-acre project has angered residents of Boron and nearby Desert Lake, two small Kern County towns where the poverty rate is twice the California average. Residents say their concerns about construction dust, as well as the destruction of the mostly pristine land that is habitat for endangered desert tortoises, have been ignored by the county and state officials who approved it.