Published on:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Recommends Not Listing Western Joshua Tree as Threatened under California Endangered Species Act

By Kerry Shapiro and Dan Quinley

After more than a year of scientific study on the status of the western Joshua tree (“WJT”), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”) has just completed its status review (“Status Review”) of the WJT and determined that the best available science on the species does not warrant listing it as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (“CESA”). CDFW’s conclusion mirrors the conclusion independently made in a Population Study prepared on behalf of JMBM client California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (“CalCIMA”) and also submitted to CDFW and the California Fish and Game Commission (“Commission”) for consideration in the Commission’s final determination on whether or not to list the species. CalCIMA’s Population Study was submitted pursuant to Title 14, section 670.1(h) of the California Code of Regulations on April 5, 2022, and therefore must be considered by the Commission in making a final listing determination.

In making its recommendation to not list the WJT, CDFW found, based on “the best scientific information available to the Department” that the species “is not in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all, or a significant portion, of its range,” and that “special protection and management efforts required by CESA” were not required for the species.

The release of CDFW’s Status Review is the latest step in the CESA listing process and follows the October 2020 initial determination by the Commission that further study of the WJT was warranted. The Commission is expected to formally accept for consideration CDFW’s Status Review at its bi-monthly meeting on April 20-21, commencing a period of public comment on the Status Review and the final listing determination. The earliest the Commission can act on the Status Review, and make a final listing determination, will be during the June 15-16 bi-monthly meeting.

The next few months will likely see a flurry of activity as the Commission moves towards a final listing determination, and there will be more to follow on this blog.

Kerry Shapiro
Kerry Shapiro chairs the Natural Resources & Mining Practice Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. He has represented the mining, construction and building materials industries on mineral extraction and land development projects for more than 25 years. Kerry also serves as General Counsel to the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (CalCIMA). Contact Kerry at

Daniel Quinley
Daniel Quinley is an environmental and land use lawyer at Jeffer Mangels Butler & MItchell LLP. He represents clients in complex regulatory, permitting, policy, and litigation arenas. Contact Dan at

JMBM’s Natural Resources & Mining Law Group
Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP has one of California’s leading natural resources and mining law practice groups. The group is comprised of lawyers with over 25 years of practice in law firms, government, and consulting, and provides companies and trade associations with unparalleled counseling, compliance, and litigation services in nearly every area of federal and California natural resources and mining law.