The Joshua Tree Gateway Association of Realtors would like to express its strong opposition to the petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity to list the western Joshua tree as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act.

We understand and appreciate the effort to defend our iconic flora, but don’t wish to see that done at the expense of our community’s future growth, affordable housing and individual property rights when the Joshua tree already has protection under both federal and state laws. Its placement on the list of threatened species would have significant consequences impacting the future development of raw land and on the housing prices in our communities.

The requirement to relocate Joshua trees before razing a pad of land and for permits to be obtained to relocate, remove or otherwise destroy even dead Joshua trees as part of the California Desert Native Plants Act has existed for quite some time and has high rates of compliance. There is barely a single pad of land within our community without at least one Joshua tree growing there, and the addition of the Joshua tree to the threatened species list would make development of homes or commercial buildings prohibitively expensive due to potential environmental studies that would need to be completed prior to building, and this, in turn, would drive the price of existing housing skyward.

California is already well-documented in its struggle to provide affordable housing to its population. If such a wrench is thrown into the process of building locally — especially for an already-protected plant that also enjoys over 2.34 million acres of protected habitat in Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve — our community will no longer be one of the last bastions of affordable housing in our state, and will see its own residents priced out of their own community over time while becoming affordable to only the most well-to-do transplants from urban areas seeking a refuge away from growing population density and their own rising prices.

The Joshua tree is already adequately protected. Adding it to the threatened species list will not increase that protection half as much as it will damage the availability of housing and encroach even further on private property rights of our Basin’s homeowners if the removal or relocation of a Joshua tree becomes cost prohibitive, or possibly even entirely disallowed. We implore members of this community to consider the profound impacts this action would have on the communities that share habitat with the western Joshua tree and encourage you to contact the California Fish and Wildlife Commission to voice your concerns as well.

(46) comments


Before making an extensive comment on this editorial I will need to read the rather looong (79 page PDF) document which can be found here with another looong URL of:

At first blush and quick read, a little extra protection for these iconic trees is warranted. I don't feel sorry for developers that just bulldoze everything level because it's a down and dirty way to build fast. Seems like there are plenty of sterile looking developments already with literally nothing but dirt and rock yards and perhaps some invasive weeds for color.

Plenty of existing homes, fixer-uppers and blow-em uppers in the area as it stands in our area. This isn't LAX...yet.

Besides, folks are leaving California due to taxes if they can leave before Covid19 kills them.


What a sob story


Ms. Zimarik offers the usual self-serving piffle one would expect from a rep for the local real estate establishment. The bit about local home prices rising due to increased building costs due to environmental concerns is well worn. It appears Ms. Zimarik is implying that if locals don't fall in line, they won't be able to afford housing in the future. Especially endearing is her statement: Our community will no longer be one of the last bastions of affordable housing in the state, and will see it's own residents priced out of their own community over time, while becoming affordable to only the most well-to-do transplants from urban areas... Really? This is hardly an epiphany coming from someone with a website titled: I'm all for folks making a good living, and if involved in RE I would target my marketing to the well-heeled as well. But I'm not selling RE, and I don't relish the anticipated growth espoused by Ms. Zimarik. I've had the good fortune to live in some of the most pristine parts of this country, and really don't see a need for more box stores and asphalt in the Morongo Basin. Guess I'll look for an affordable villa.

Tim Humphreville

The job base in the Morongo basin is small, in the last 28 years here in Yucca valley we have grown at less than 1%, The small construction company's are very important to the well being of our community. So many family's depend on these jobs to support themselves. The extremists eco groups in this State, act like terrorist groups when they don't get their way, this is a prime example of their actions. 70 percent of The Joshua Tree habitat in California is already protected from any development, either by the Nat park, wilderness, or BLM land, not to mention all the land different conservancy's have bought. There are no studies to support the tree is in any danger, as was found when these groups tried to do it nationally. But California is vulnerable to this kind of action, because of very liberal views of some of its population. If you own a property in the basin, you better start paying attention, the rights you used to have, they are shrinking very fast.


Blame town and city "stewards" somewhat for the lack of any employment opportunities besides services and retail geared towards tourism, who just happen to visit FOR the scenic beauty. Hint: Assorted shopping complexes are NOT considered beautiful by most visitors.

Seventy percent of the trees are now protected. I wouldn't be proud of that fact if it's correct. It's pretty dismal. As climate change happens, these prehistoric trees are losing habitat. Who knows what climate change may do to our survival. Anyone's guess to our survival rate should things get really bad 50 years from now. I won't be around to see it.

Yes, developers from LA I will find it harder and more expensive to destroy our area. Their semi-skilled crews will just have to find work closer to their own mess. Very little local hiring from these out-of-town guys.

The local contractors and skilled trades persons tend to commute out of area. All those beloved stop lights add 15 minutes to the commute each way. There's plenty of improvement projects that could be done, be it energy efficiency, structural and cosmetic improvements and even shells that could be razed for a new home. Of course being tourism dependant has tanked any hope of that barring massive bank REO (foreclosure), which means some might gain and some loose their home.

It seems to me that we visited a similar issue not too long ago with Yucca Valley zoning.

I do want to especially thank Tim for enlightening me!

Armed with some additional input from Tim, and some reading of the document I will be voting TO ADOPT the additional protections.

Comment deleted.

I stand corrected regarding voting on the issue of this petition. Unlike some of our duly elected leaders I can learn from the mistake of speed reading at times or missing a key element and grow from it. However, I do vote for person(s) that best serves OUR community. I also know how to call or write decision makers and let them know my stance on certain issues.

I have lived here long enough to see the destruction of the scenic beauty. Maybe I see it more because I haven't been here long enough to gain tunnel vision. I moved from a very nice area with plenty of trees, flora and fauna, and enjoy the rugged beauty of this area.

It also doesn't require a degree from Harvard to see how the low end developers flatten everything to expedite a fast build out. Copper Estates (?) in South Yucca Valley is one prime example. A residential building with colored rock for landscaping, with lots of rat maze streets. I know personally that the older section was shoddily slapped together. An old timer told me about the lawsuits that flew after I commented on problems I found in one client location. To be fair, it's a problem for many areas not just here.

You won't see me going out splurging on Chinese made garbage if I can find similar that's USA made. I also support local merchants and companies as first choice or at least North American made. I like to keep the money local when possible.

There are plenty of unskilled/semi-skilled jobs during normal times. None of them pay worth beans and don't offer benefits. You go to a job to survive. You engage in a career to hopefully thrive.

For some of us, quality of life isn't a trip to China-Mart to buy polymer garbage in pretty colors. Scenery and diversity count for a lot.

I'm not anti construction. I'm anti needless destruction. Something most tract developers just don't care about, and it shows.

I live in a nice area here now, with native growth, birds, bees, wrabbits, ect. It's quite serene listening to nature. For those that like noise, pollution and bustle and cracker box construction in a cookie cutter neighborhood, they can find plenty of that nation wide.

Remember, following generations inherit what we leave for good or ill. These tree take generations and generations to grow, and scant few minutes to destroy.


Reposted by me with my blessing to add context and correction to discussion:

Posted by Tim H as follows:

Blayd, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you don't get a vote! We already knew how you would vote anyway, I have been here for 52 years and know most of the local contractors, you are wrong about them commuting here from elsewhere, But that doesn't fit your ideology, , I guess some don't realize that community's without jobs are not nice to live in, but that doesn't fit your ideology, you have a long way to go to be enlightened.


"I know personally that the older section [of Copper Hills] was shoddily slapped together." - You're absolutely right. I looked at houses there and they were in pretty bad shape. The metal on the fences is the desert.


Rusty gates are the LEAST of the issues. I won't go into some of it. Let's just say it's to code in Copper Hills... but..

And then you have to Four Seasons complex off of Sunrise in Palm Springs. Just about every roof leaked badly a few years apres completion in the the ENTIRE complex. Builder long gone, company evidently disbanded or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Huge damages and insurance claims. I have worked in other complexes as well, some had electrical code violations. Those were difficult to correct. Another development, improper service line pipe combined with improper install. Huge insurance claim for entire house being flooded. Client had to hire electronic leak detection company when first contractor went wacko and punched holes nowhere near the source, and I narrowed it down to a few feet. Client lost a nice sidewalk when I had to perform surgery on it to repair "erosion issue with substandard pipe and install".

No build is ever perfect, but some are real garbage consistently.


News flash CheRojo, the fences are rusty by design. They were chemically treated to create such beauty. The eye of the beholder and all, or different strokes if you will.


TH, where did you get the 1% job growth figure? The data gathering company Bestplaces has YV future job growth pegged at 38.7% over the next ten years. Last year's job growth was 2.3% according to the data company. Interestingly, Bestpalces says construction jobs are 9% of YV's workforce, while the nation's average is 6.3% for construction jobs. TH, how exactly did the these study groups do it nationally? Aren't Joshua trees found only in a very defined area of the SW US, notably the Mojave desert? The simple fact is that there are too many folks trying squeeze out a living from an area that can't support them unless there is a degradation of the very thing that makes it a desirable place to live. That might be ok for the folks in Vegas, as evident to those driving in from the west on I-15.

Tim Humphreville

The 1% growth rate per year, is from the SBC web site, Its also my business to know the number. I have seen the predictions for as long as I have lived here, they are never accurate. I have built over 100 houses in Yucca, every one has every native plant, including the trees That can be left. People love having them to incorporate in their landscaping .My success rate in transplanting is about 95%. As I told you more than 70% of the Joshua Trees habitat is already protected from development. You can look up the figures if you like. This is no longer a forum that can have conversation on it. Stacy is to liberal to have any ideas she doesn't like left on. you must have complained about me pointing out you were wrong. so she deleted my post. I did not attack you , I said you were not enlightened. Too much for the paper I guess.


Tim: No complaint from me. In fact I reposted the deleted post in fact since without it, it renders the discussion moot.

If you are one of the quality builders that actually takes pride in workmanship and respects the best one can the natural existing landscape to incorporate a residential building into the surroundings, then fantastic.

That being said, there are far too many scorched Earth housing tracts with shoddy construction, zero respect for anything or anyone. It not only ruins hundreds of acres of habitat, they tend to ruin the industry as well.

Anyone in the trades should hopefully know the difference between high-end builds and cracker box rubbish. High-end builds work around existing landscape to blend in with quality workmanship throughout, while cracker box builds just bulldoze, and then slap them up assembly line fashion often with assorted mistakes and code problems being hidden in the hope the inspector misses the problem that would force expensive rework.

High-end clients usually desire a high-end product and will pay extra for what it takes. Plenty of fixer uppers around for those first time buyers with limited resources.

To sacrifice a living endangered trees for the sake of developers of the scorched Earth variety isn't a good investment strategy for either the potential purchaser or the existing residents.

I personally think the market will soon be saturated again as Airbnb's are sold off due to lack of demand, and other homes end up being foreclosed upon.

Time will tell...


Come on TH, you've stooped to blaming the HDS editor for your flailing attempt to defend the letter writer's stance. Your 1% employment growth rate seems suspect, regardless of your insistence on its validity. DataUSA has Yucca Valley employment growth at 6.48% for 2016-17. I suppose the Bureau of Labor statistics fudged the numbers for liberals. Yeah, you've lived here for a long time, certainly long enough to know that the prime home building sites are long gone. Now a lot of projects are shoehorned onto less desirable sites. On the upside, the town of Yucca Valley issued a statement that Joshua trees don't need additional protection. We'll have to see what Fish and Game have to say about the petition at their meeting in late June.

Stacy Moore

I've deleted a couple of comments that were getting personal. Please try to argue with or support the content of the letter without taking shots at each other.


Oh well.......


Monica - “The requirement to relocate Joshua trees before razing a pad of land and for permits to be obtained to relocate, remove or otherwise destroy even dead Joshua trees as part of the California Desert Native Plants Act has existed for quite some time and has high rates of compliance. There is barely a single pad of land within our community without at least one Joshua tree growing there…” - Yes.


Tim - “…Joshua Tree habitat in California is already protected from any development, either by the Nat park, wilderness, or BLM land, not to mention all the land different conservancy's have bought.” - I would add to that all the regulations imposed by towns and cities throughout the tree’s habitat in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Mexico.


Anyone who HONESTLY thinks Joshua Trees are a “threatened species” are either not getting out enough or not paying attention when they do. There are large stands and forests of them throughout the Southwest in numbers great enough to continue proliferating despite any need we may find to eliminate them. That’s what I’ve seen.


This is the endangered species equivalent of "global warming can't be real, it was cold today!"


I believe the number of Joshua Trees found in the Southwestern U S and Northern Mexico has been steadily increasing since long before man ever laid eyes on them. That’s even more years than yours and mine combined, eh? I believe too, that neither their displacement for construction nor their protection from displacement will ever make a noticeable difference respecting the continuing proliferation of these trees.

Rather than mistakenly inferring I’m some sort of climate change naysayer, show me that I’m wrong about our Joshua Trees and I’ll happily condescend.


"I believe the number of Joshua Trees found in the Southwestern U S and Northern Mexico has been steadily increasing since long before man ever laid eyes on them. "

OK. Now prove it with science, surveys and hard facts.

I read some of the seventy odd pages submitted. It seems they have used science and hards facts in their presentation.

A few others and myself egarly await you acclaimed research and documentation.

Some believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and that the Earth is flat.


Blayd, it is not I who wants to impose restrictions on my neighbors. It seems to me the onus is on those that do. If you want me to give up my property rights to satisfy your concern, you should show me how it makes sense for me to do that. Obviously you can’t and have only insults with which to respond.


Personally, I don’t believe the Center for Biological Diversity is as interested in saving trees as they are in trying to squander America's freedom at every possible opportunity.


The Joshua Tree is an iconic part of our area. You can build; however it should be a law that the desert flora is to be saved. If your building plans cannot be"tweeked" to fit the existing desert landscape, then it should be required to salvage the trees or plants. I know for a fact that there are many residents who would love to have those trees or plants on their land. Don't put the almighty buck over the beauty of the place you reside.

Branson Hunter

While Stacy is trying to maintain civility, Mike continues to defy her request by badgering other people or

With ill intended personal insults. It comes as no surprise water district directors opposed further protection of local Joshua trees. And it comes as no surprise that pro building city council opposes protecting the trees. Where have all the Joshua trees gone along Highway 62? In terms of commercial growth Yucca Valley needs growth restriction.


Too late for growth restrictions in YV. T'is ruined to a fare-thee-well.

The current growth restrictions will be Covid19 and it's aftermath, combined with huge commercial sewer assements.


Joshua trees are wonderful, I think just transplant when building or build around them and incorporate them in the design.



I agree with you Josh. In fact, as a result of this thread, I counted the Joshua Trees at my house. As of today, there are 31 (including a handful of offshoots).

In 1995, at my late Father’s request for folks to plant a tree in lieu of funeral flowers, I transplanted two of our smaller ones to the family cabin out near Giant Rock. One survived and now some twenty five years later is doing fine.

Protecting my trees is something I choose to do but it’s certainly not something I wish to be compelled to do by law.


I completely agree with Monica Zimeric...

I am a licensed concrete and general contractor since 1989 here in our beloved High Desert. Lived here since 1983. Vacationed here since 1963.

I of all people wish no harm to our iconic Joshua tree.

I know for a fact that our respectful tradesmen, and fellow realtors over the years that I have proudly been apart of, have indeed and will always vigilantly protect our Joshua trees, more than most.

But going further as proposed is seriously wrong and not responsible to our beloved community.

Common sense needs to be applied....


Steve Parker, owner operator, Parker Concrete and Construction


Hi Steve:

In the early eighties a home was built in the Sky Harbor area across from where the dog park is today. The ecologically minded builder left a fair sized Joshua Tree smack in front of the garage door, thoroughly blocking it. The owner left it too. Subsequently, a drive was poured leaving a generous circle around its base. The tree is mysteriously gone now but it stood there for decades. What’s seen today is a usable garage with a curious circle in the slab at its entrance. The circle remains as a testimonial to folks who cared more about protecting an iconic tree than they did about getting the old Cadillac’s fine leather upholstery out of the sun.

Was Parker Concrete part of this story?

Branson Hunter

@Mike: Said tree was there for decades. It was enjoyed by untold amounts of people, Who enjoy its frequency its energy and its presence. I can understand your concern and Parker's concerns. The present regulations just are not enough. We have to also think about our neighbors and community, and about future Generations. I've lived in this area 20 years. I've certainly seen a lot of insensitive and unnecessary destruction of the environment, including Joshua Tree. I'll bet one of Yucca Valley's councilmembers will easily recall all the missing Joshua trees that were supposed to have been placed in a nursery situations for future plantings. But after months they went missing and the council waved it off... .


Of course realtors would say that. They want to pave over America! I remember what the lot where Home Depot and Wal-Mart is now looked like before. What about the lot where the retirement home is now? Where did all those mature Joshua trees go? If these people have their way they will only exist in the name of the town. Thousands and thousands of them have been removed in a very short time. That can't continue forever unabated.

Branson Hunter

No Majestic Joshua trees over here like where I live Mike.



Branson Hunter

Because Joshua Tree don't reproduce a few miles east of Joshua Tree Town. That could befor a number of reasons, different climate, less rain, it's hotter, maybe there is a Yucca Valley Moth problem with a lower elevation and a warmer climate.


Looks to me they should do fine at your place if they could just get there (as was the case at our place in Landers).

So have you ever tried transplanting any small ones? I think you probably know where there are plenty needing rescue.

Branson Hunter

Nope, haven't tried to relocate a JT where I live. The environment and science is against its survival. I don't like the odds.



The “environment and science” are in fact not against their survival in your area and I think you are procrastinating. See the web address I provided you.

The Dep. of Agriculture says our joshua trees like temperatures of -13 °F to 120 °F, precipitation of 3.9 to 10.6 inches, an elevation range of 1,600 to 6,600 ft., they like silts, loams, and/or sands fine, loose, well drained, and/or gravelly soil and tolerate alkaline and saline soils.

Sounds just like your place to me. I would guess the only reason you have no trees is a seed distribution issue. Have you tried planting seeds?

Branson Hunter

The plants I have, having experimented for going .20-years, all are incredible drought resistant. A neighbor 1/2 mile away replanted two Joshua Trees. Neigher is doing very well. They've been in the ground for several years. Alive, yes, but unhealthy. That is why I don't want to plant the trees I love.

Branson Hunter

besides which

Branson Hunter

0ops... besides which, there are more factors that elevation, precipitation, and

Branson Hunter

... and temperatures in our lower climate zone. Drive eastward, Mike, from Yucca Valley. At some point after Whitefeather there are no more Joshua trees. What is a agriculture Department say about that?


I've already answered that, Branson! Seed disbursement appears the problem.

Rodents, particularly ground squirrels, harvest most of them and cache them in their burros which are never far afield.

LOL, had you been around a few million years ago, I know you'd have supported all the controversial legislation aimed at saving the endangered giant ground sloth. If that effort hadn't failed, you'd have plenty of joshua trees at your place today.

Branson Hunter

Mike, you're twisting my arm. If you have information on how to get Joshua Trees, post the info here. I'll take a look


Town of Yucca Valley

Adoption Program: To assist in the preservation of native plants that would have otherwise been destroyed, the Town has an adoption program for those interested citizens in adopting Yuccas and Joshua Trees. Those interested individuals wanting to be placed on the Native Plant adoption list should send a letter to the Community Development Department with their name, address, phone, an email address if available, and the desire number of plants and sizes.

In addition Branson, your old buddy Tim Humphreville might know of some developers that need help mitigating a joshua tree issue.

Or how about the author of this article - Monica Zimarik 2020 president of Joshua Tree Gateway Association of Realtors.

I saw online that you can buy joshua trees in Arizona. You can also buy seeds from Amazon. But if you wanted to plant seeds, you could just gather them yourself. I don’t think anyone would mind you doing that.

Just some ideas. Maybe commenter here can help.

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