“It’s simultaneously beautiful and grotesque,” said Brendan Cummings, of the Center for Biological Diversity, of the Joshua tree, the icon of the Mojave Desert. “There’s something incredibly Seussian about it. They transport you to a different world.”

Unfortunately, the Joshua tree is threatened by climate change. While endangered species designation won’t halt global warming, it will help in ensuring the trees are protected from being destroyed directly by human impact.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied such protection in 2019, but a judge recently ruled the agency erred in failing to protect it under the Endangered Species Act. Now the USFWS can rectify the error and put the Joshua tree under the strongest possible protection.

This not only protects the tree, but also the economies of the communities that rely on people visiting the Mojave Desert to see the tree. It’s rare win-win for financial and ecological reasons.

The non-profit WildEarth Guardians is collecting signatures for a petition that will be delivered to the USFWS, urging the agency to grant the Joshua tree endangered species status. You can find out more, and sign the petition, right here.

Photo by Cedric Letsch

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