Effective October 9, 2020, the western Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia, is a Candidate species for listing under the California Endangered Species Act. A member of the Agave family, Joshua trees are native to arid regions in Southern California. Standing 5 to 20 ft. tall, Joshua trees have stiff, narrow leaves, and greenish-white flowers that bloom in the spring and are pollinated by moths. A slow-growing and iconic presence in the high desert, Joshua tree populations have recently been threatened by extreme heat, drought and wildfires.
As a Candidate species, Joshua trees are afforded the same protections as a state-listed endangered or threatened species. This protection may continue at the State-level once a final determination is made. Consequently, any activity that results in the removal and alteration of, or disturbance of the seedbank surrounding Joshua trees will require an Incidental Take Permit issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information about the new protections afforded Joshua trees, download our fact sheet: Joshua Tree-Protections-flyer.
At the County-level, Joshua trees are a permanently protected biological resource and impacts require a permit.