California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recommends No Listing of Western Joshua Tree Under California Endangered Species Act
Fish and Game Commission Expected to Take Action on Recommendation in June
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) delivered its long-awaited Status Review and Recommendation on the western Joshua tree to California Fish and Game Commission on April 21, 2022, recommending against listing the species as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The 150-page, peer-reviewed report states that “the scientific evidence that is currently possessed by the Department does not demonstrate that populations of the species are negatively trending in a way that would lead the Department to believe that the species is likely to be in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future.” The Commission is expected to consider and take final action on the recommendation at its June 15-16, 2022, meeting.
In October 2019, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) requesting that Western Joshua Tree be listed as a threatened species under CESA. In September 2020, the Commission found sufficient information exists to indicate that listing may be warranted, and the western Joshua tree was designated as a candidate species while CDFW conducted its review of the status of the species as required by Fish and Game Code section 2074.6. As a candidate species, the western Joshua tree has been given the same protections as if the species was formally listed as threatened or endangered since October 2020.
In the Status Review, the CDFW recommends that the Commission find that the recommended action to list WJT as a threatened species is not warranted. Key findings included the following:
- The abundant and widespread nature of the western Joshua tree lowers threat of extinction.
- Uncertainty exists with respect to what the predicted effects of climate change will be on individual western Joshua trees, and its populations, distribution, abundance, and range.
- It is unlikely that the special protection and management efforts required by CESA would ameliorate the direct and indirect effects of climate change on the western Joshua tree.
- The current scientific evidence does not demonstrate that populations of the species are negatively trending in a way that would lead the CDFW to believe that the species is likely to be in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future.
The Commission formally accepted the Status Review and recommendation from CDFW on April 21, 2022. The Status Review must be made available to the public for a 30-day public comment period prior to the Commission taking any action on the Petition. The Commission is expected to make its final determination on the listing at the June 15-16, 2022, meeting. Interested parties have the opportunity to submit written comments regarding the listing of the western Joshua tree in advance of the meeting and/or make public comments at the Commission meeting.
For more information about the western Joshua tree listing process or CESA, please contact Shaye Diveley at firstname.lastname@example.org