Joshua trees are dying. This new legislation hopes to tackle that

The iconic Joshua trees, threatened by climate change and development, are the focus of new legislation in California aiming to help their survival.

Background on Joshua Trees: They are a type of yucca plant, growing up to 70 feet tall, found mostly in southern California and the Mojave desert, serving as a valuable habitat for diverse species.
* Joshua trees are known for their spiky ‘Dr. Seuss’ like shape and provide shelter to many species such as moths, beetles, woodpeckers, owls, wood rats, and lizards.

Threats to Survival: Their existence is being threatened by rising temperatures, wildfires, and property development, which have endangered these trees’ ability to adapt and thrive.
* Joshua trees require a cold period to flower, and the ongoing climate change-induced extremes and decades-long megadrought have been a severe challenge.
* New property developments have also broken up the Joshua trees’ habitat, further endangering their survival.

New Legislation: The California state legislature recently passed the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act aiming to protect the Joshua trees.
* The new law will establish a conservation fund and require the state to develop a conservation plan.
* It also positions that companies must obtain a permit from the state to cut down or relocate existing trees.

Public Response: The move to conserve Joshua trees has been met with mixed reactions, with local politicians, building developers, and labor unions previously opposing it due to potential threats to jobs and economic development.
* Kelly Herbinson, co-executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, stated the situation is unprecedented and termed the affected areas as “zombie forests”.
* Brendan Cummings, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, called this conservation effort somewhat “uncharted territory”.

View original article on NPR

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