SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY – California lawmakers passed the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act, Tuesday, which permanently protects the Joshua tree most commonly found in the Mojave Desert.
The new law cleared the Assembly and the Senate as part of the state budget agreement includes a $1,000 per tree removal fee.
Joshua tree Protections
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, climate change, habitat loss and degradation threaten the Joshua tree for extinction by the end of the century.
Under the law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this week, the Joshua tree will be:
- Prohibited from unpermitted killing or removal;
- Required to have a conservation plan;
- Protected with a state fund to acquire and manage lands;
- Protected through a permit process for removal – $150 to $1,000 per tree removal;
- Protected from unauthorized importing and exporting to or from the state punishable as a crime;
- Protected by a required consultation with California Native American Tribes on the law’s implementation.
In addition, housing developers are limited to removing 10 trees from a housing project site. The limit is 40 trees from a public works site.
San Bernardino County says although they support a balanced approach to protecting the Western Joshua tree, the legislation fails to meet the needs of residents and business community.
“Mitigation fees were slightly lowered, but the bill still imposes very high costs on residents, businesses, and local agencies. This will discourage the building of much-needed homes, stifle economic investment, increase development costs in the region, and significantly harm the county’s Mojave Desert communities and residents,” said a San Bernardino County news release.
The county says that they will continue to advocate with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure that Western Joshua Tree take permits are processed and reviewed expeditiously by Sacramento.
To read the full AB 122/SB 122 bill visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB122