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“Joshua trees that still stand could be the last generation”

By   /   June 5, 2014  /   7 Comments

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Joshua Tree National Forest – As climate changes, iconic trees dying in parts of the Park.


It’s one of the most picturesque desert landscapes on the planet: the crooked, prickly branches of Joshua trees jutting skyward in fantastic shapes against backdrops of granite boulders. But in parts of Joshua Tree National Park, these iconic trees are gradually dying out.

The knee-high young trees that normally would sprout here have largely vanished from some areas of the national park as the climate has grown hotter and drier in recent decades. The remaining mature trees are slowly dying, their gnarled branches collapsing to the ground. In portions of the park, the Joshua trees that still stand could be the last generation.

“Around the edges is where we’re starting to see thinning like this,” said Josh Hoines, the national park’s vegetation branch chief, scanning a patch of desert dotted with fully grown trees. “We hardly see anything that resembles a small tree.”

Posted by Branson Hunter

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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

    Shucks, I have been starting them by harvesting the seedpods. Waite until they are about ready to fall, often not until the following year from flowering. The seeds must experience freezing temperatures (I put them in the freezer for three weeks) come spring plant them directly into decomposed granite soil, and wait about three weeks. At this point, they are very tender making great meals for rabbits and such. Often I have seen folk that think those little bunches of green sprouts was some kind of desert grass do to their close proximity to each other.

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

      Bravo! Thanks Mark, I actually learned something today! Who says an old dog can’t learn a new trick?

      I understand that other plants require fire as a cue to germination….. Gosh we humans think we are so damned smart…..

      Nature that fickled bitch, out smarts us again.

      • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

        Thanks for the info Mark. Wonder if the park is doing this kind of harvesting.

        • Mark Clemons Mark Clemons says:

          Turtles are very hungry after their hibernation, add the fact that big bro thinks wild fires does not regenerate natural growth leave little for the protected species to feed on, oh well they have the JT sprouts to survive on. Our species really need to comprehend that big bro is not the answer to conservation.

          As long as we let big bro’s Department of education indoctrinate the future, we have little chance of change. The people follow, government knows best, sounds crazy to the home schooled.

          • Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

            Mark, I’m thankful that “Big Bro” has preserved the national parks over the past hundred years or so. The Grand Canyon wouldn’t be as pristine as it is today without some “Big Bro” oversight. Same for Death Valley and Yosemite and Mt Rainier and JT.

  2. A CBS affiliate in Los Angeles just aired a special report on Joshua Trees dying in the Park.

  3. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    So the meddling of man, even those who think they do no harm to nature has indeed been the downfall of the Joshua Tree?

    Too many Tortoises for the environment, you think?

    Could it be all the micromanagement of the ecology of the Park by College graduated know it all’s have done more harm than good?

    Save the whales kill the anchovies and krill….. Who is in charge of a balanced nature? Such is the paradox of the Environmentalist.

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