Joshua tree

2024 CECalifornia and Nevada

"Western Joshua trees live primarily in California, extending into Nevada east of Death Valley National Park. Eastern Joshua trees live in California in the Mojave National Preserve, as well as in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. The most visible threat to western Joshua trees is direct killing by developers, who bulldoze them by the thousands to build roads, warehouses, power plants, strip malls and vacation rentals. But climate change and fire are also pushing the species toward extinction on a landscape scale. Recent studies show Joshua trees are dying off because of hotter, drier conditions, with very few younger trees becoming established in many areas. Even greater changes are projected over the coming decades, and scientists say these beautiful, fragile icons could be largely gone from Joshua Tree National Park by the end of the century. Prolonged droughts are projected to be more frequent and intense over the coming decades, shrinking the species’ range and leading to more tree deaths. Higher elevations, where Joshua trees might survive increasing temperatures and drying conditions, are at great risk of fire due to invasive non-native grasses. Over 40% of the western Joshua tree’s range in California is on private land, with only a tiny fraction protected from development. Current projections show that virtually all of this habitat will be lost without stronger legal protection for the trees."

"Saving the Joshua Tree," Center for Biological Diversity.

Image: Bureau of Land Management California via Flickr, Public domain