California holds off on listing western Joshua tree as threatened

Joshua Trees grow on protected Mojave Desert Land Trust lands which create wildlife linksages near the border of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley, November 18, 2021.

The western Joshua tree will remain a protected species after the California Fish and Game Commission failed to come to a majority decision on Thursday on whether the iconic plant should be listed under the California Endangered Species Act.

High desert cities, construction and real estate trade groups, and renewable energy developers oppose the listing, arguing it would stymie development of housing and renewable energy. Conservation groups, scientists, and advocates, however, have argued that listing the tree is integral to protecting species from climate change, as well as other threats like wildfire and development.

The commission considered four hours of public comments on Wednesday, and also heard presentations from the Center for Biological Diversity, which submitted the petition to list the species as threatened, and from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which issued a report recommending against listing. the species in April.