Mojave Desert Land Trust responds to damage to Joshua Tree National Park during government shutdown

Joshua Tree, CA – Reports have shown environmental damage inside Joshua Tree National Park during the current government shutdown. This includes Joshua trees being cut down, out-of-bounds camping, extensive vehicle traffic off roads and in wilderness areas, new roads created around gates, and graffiti. 

Statement from the Mojave Desert Land Trust:

“We are very concerned about the effects of the shutdown on the natural resources of Joshua Tree National Park. It has become clear that despite the efforts of local businesses and other volunteers to augment the law enforcement rangers considered essential during the shutdown, more support is needed to prevent irreparable damage to the iconic Joshua trees the Park was named for as well as other Park resources. Although we are thankful to see additional new Park resources being added to prevent damage, without the full staff of Joshua Tree National Park, we cannot hope to really protect this important resource.”

“We support a temporary closure of Joshua Tree National Park to protect its resources from further lasting damage. Leaving the Park open without adequate protective resources could result in the long-term loss of some of the very values the parks were established to preserve, and which people come to see.”  

“We applaud the herculean efforts of local businesses, volunteers, Native American communities, and the Marine Corps to maintain public areas. While we are very concerned about the impact of a closure on the local economy, it has become clear that without adequate staff, the Park remains vulnerable and must be protected, even if that means a temporary closure. Protection of the irreplaceable natural resources of Joshua Tree National Park and other desert parks during the government shutdown must be the priority.”

The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to protect and care for lands with natural, scenic, and cultural value within the Mojave Desert. Since its founding in 2006 the land trust has conserved more than 72,008 acres, donating more tracts of land to the National Park Service in the last decade than any other organization. In addition to acquiring land, the land trust established a seed bank to ensure the preservation of native species. MDLT operates an onsite nursery at its Joshua Tree headquarters which propagates native species for ecosystem restoration. MDLT educates and advocates for the conservation of the desert, involving hundreds of volunteers in our work. For more information, visit mdlt.org.