New California Bill Could Allow Developers To Cut Down More Joshua Trees

"Environmentalists warn that a California Democrat’s bill “drives a bulldozer” through the state’s new law that protects imperiled Joshua trees from commercial development. But the lawmaker says his impoverished desert region desperately needs the economic boost."

"Democratic Assemblymember Juan Carrillo has mixed feelings about the Joshua trees that are scattered across his sprawling Southern California desert district.

“The Joshua tree is an iconic symbol of the high desert,” he told CalMatters. “We have to save that. We have to preserve it.”

At the same time, he’s a former planner for the city of Palmdale, so he knows that efforts to protect the trees will make it harder to build housing and commercial developments in his economically disadvantaged district in the Mojave Desert.

It’s with those concerns in mind that Carrillo introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 2443, that would give commercial developers a break from the state’s newly passed protections for one of the state’s most recognizable – and imperiled – trees. Perhaps surprisingly in a state known for its environmental advocacy, the bill last week passed its first committee over the objections of nearly every major environmental group in the state."

Ryan Sabalow reports for CalMatters May 1, 2024.

Source: CalMatters, 05/03/2024