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Climate and Environment

California Will Not Classify Joshua Trees As An Endangered Species — At Least Not For Now

Joshua trees stand in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) in Joshua Tree National Park near Twentynine Palms.
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images,
Getty Images North America)
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The iconic western Joshua tree will not be classified as an endangered species in California, at least not for now.

After two days of debate and public comment, the California Fish and Game Commission failed to break its 2-2 deadlock on whether to give the succulents threatened status on Thursday.

Environmentalists say climate change could decimate Joshua trees by the end of the century.

But Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin said more work needs to be done to evaluate the threat.

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"I wholeheartedly agree that we want to protect Joshua trees," he said. "And we do not want to see it go extinct in the year 2100. However, we do not have a framework within which to look at this comprehensively."

Opponents of the designation argue it would make it harder to remove Joshua trees to make way for housing, solar and other projects in the high desert region. They argue that local governments already have strict regulations in place to protect the plants.

Joshua trees are currently considered a "protected" species.

The panel is due to take the issue up again in October after more talks with tribal authorities.