Conservation group sues feds over Joshua tree protections

By Scott Streater | 03/20/2024 04:29 PM EDT

The Fish and Wildlife Service in 2023 determined that Endangered Species Act protections weren’t warranted for the desert plant.

The sun setting behind Joshua trees.

The sun setting behind Joshua trees in Lancaster, California, on July 12, 2021, as temperatures reached 107 degrees during a summer heat wave. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. EDT.

A conservation group is suing the Fish and Wildlife Service for the second time in the past five years about the agency’s decision not to protect Joshua trees under the Endangered Species Act.

WildEarth Guardians filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after FWS last year repeated its 2019 conclusion that ESA listing of two Joshua tree species was “not warranted.”


WildEarth Guardians is asking the court to order FWS to reanalyze the desert succulent plant, citing that agency’s March 2023 decision as evidence that it will continue to “irrationally” deny both species of Joshua trees the federal protection they need to avoid extinction, according to the legal complaint.