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Joshua trees may warrant listing as a threatened species, scientists say

Joshua trees face the risk of extinction after decades of development, drought and more frequent wildfires due to climate change in their Mojave Desert stronghold, according to state wildlife authorities who are recommending that the trees be considered for listing as an endangered species. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife on Monday said it […]

Joshua trees face the risk of extinction after decades of development, drought and more frequent wildfires due to climate change in their Mojave Desert stronghold, according to state wildlife authorities who are recommending that the trees be considered for listing as an endangered species.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife on Monday said it based its recommendation on a review of a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, which argues that the western Joshua tree’s spindly desert woodlands are “likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future” without protection under the California Endangered Species Act.

The fate of Joshua Tree National Park’s namesake plant is now in the hands of the state Fish and Game commissioners. They are to decide in June whether to accept the department’s recommendation and declare the tree a candidate for listing. If the trees are listed, the law requires state wildlife managers to devise a recovery plan for them, which could limit development on some of Southern California’s sunniest real estate.

A final decision is expected sometime next year.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.