Western Joshua Tree Regulations

Information Release
February 3rd, 2021
Contact: Susy Boyd, Public Policy Coordinator, Mojave Desert Land Trust, [email protected]
(This page was updated with information from San Bernardino County on 02/12/21)


On October 9, 2020, the western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) was designated as a candidate species for listing as threatened under California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA).  The Mojave Desert Land Trust supports the candidacy for listing of the western Joshua tree.

We are working closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), local governments, the petitioner, and our supporters to provide up-to-date information about resources and processes for compliance with the interim regulations. Under the current listing, it’s a violation of California Fish and Game Code to trim or remove (or “take”) a tree without first obtaining a permit.

Below, the reader will find links to the regulations addressing the removal of western Joshua trees, information on reporting violations, and a list of resources for those who may need professional assistance in order to obtain a permit.

Regulations and Permits
As part of the candidacy process, three interim regulations under Section 2084 of the Fish and Game Code were adopted allowing for permits to be issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for incidental take (removal) of western Joshua trees during its year-long candidacy period for listing under CESA. The three regulations, known as orders, are as follows:

Special Order 749.11 allows for the issuance of a permit for the removal of a dead western Joshua tree or the trimming of a live western Joshua tree. Permits for these activities may be issued without payment of fees if they meet certain conditions as described in the order. The text of the regulation can be found here.

Special Order 749.12 permit confers to the City of Palmdale, Town of Yucca Valley, and San Bernardino County (for activities in unincorporated areas) authorization to issue incidental take permits for impacts to western Joshua trees resulting from certain actions including the construction of a single-family residence, accessory structure, or public works project. The text of the regulation can be found here. Also, see ordinances section below.

The third Special Order 749.10 applies to take of western Joshua trees incidental to the development of planned solar energy projects in Kern and San Bernardino Counties. The text of the regulation can be found here.

The City of Palmdale and the Town of Yucca Valley have adopted ordinances for the purpose of implementing Special order 749.12. The ordinances can be found here:

San Bernardino County did not adopt an ordinance under section 2084 for incidental take permits.


Applying for a Permit

Residents of the Town of Yucca Valley and the City of Palmdale may apply directly to their city of jurisdiction to obtain a permit for the removal of dead or hazard trees or for impacts to the western Joshua tree from the planned construction of a single-family home, accessory structure or small infrastructure project.

Residents in unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County who wish to remove a dead or hazard tree must apply directly to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For planned single-family home, accessory structure or small infrastructure projects in unincorporated San Bernardino County that are built in the vicinity of western Joshua trees but will not result in their removal, persons must adhere to this technical guidance document.

San Bernardino County currently does not have a permit program in place for the planned removal of western Joshua trees associated with the construction of single-family homes, accessory buildings or small infrastructure projects. Permits for these types of projects will need to be obtained through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Note: There is no fee for permits to remove dead and hazardous trees.

To apply to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Permit request must be either emailed to the Department at [email protected] or mailed to the Department at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, Attention: Western Joshua Tree Permitting, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090. You must include the street address of the property on which the western Joshua tree is to be trimmed or removed. The request must also include photographs that demonstrate that the dead tree or limb(s) to be trimmed meet at least one of the requirements in subsection (b).  Subsection 749.11(b) describes the conditions under which the Department may issue a permit to authorize either the removal of a dead western Joshua tree or the trimming of a western Joshua tree, without payment of mitigation or other fees or mitigation.

To apply with Yucca Valley
Approval for a 2084 permit takes place with the Town of Yucca Valley Planning Commission.
Contact: (760) 369-6575, ext. 317

To apply with Palmdale
Palmdale Planning Division
(661) 267-5200
[email protected]

For more information about compliance in San Bernardino County (unincorporated) contact:
Building and Safety Department
385 N. Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA   92415
(909) 387-8311


Reporting Violations
The three interim regulations passed governing take of Joshua trees are California state law. Violators of the regulations can be fined or be subject to prosecution. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is the main enforcement entity. Enforcement for applicable violations within their jurisdiction has also been delegated to the Town of Yucca Valley and the City of Palmdale.

To report a possible violation, the process is as follows:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
The first point of contact for reporting is California Fish and Wildlife’s CalTIP service.
Call CalTIP (888) 334-CalTIP/ (888) 334-2258

City of Jurisdiction
If the violation takes place where there is an ordinance in place, also report the violation to code enforcement.

For violations occurring in Palmdale:
Palmdale Code Enforcement
(661) 267-5234
Palmdale Planning Department
(661) 267-5200

For violations occurring in Yucca Valley:
Yucca Valley Code Enforcement
(760) 369-6575
Yucca Valley Planning Division
(760) 369-6575 X317

Documentation of violations is helpful to law enforcement. Some details that could be helpful include:

  • The date and time of the violation
  • Vehicle descriptions and/or license plates
  • Details of the violation – the size of the area and number of trees, is it ongoing or after the fact
  • Photographic or video documentation

We want to emphasize that your safety is paramount and that you should not put yourself in danger. If there is any potential for confrontation, we recommend you do not gather information/evidence, but instead, that you call law enforcement from a safe location and that you give them the location and a description of what you saw. If you can wait, meet them when they arrive, answer any further questions they have, and give them directions to the location of the violation.

Timely reporting of violations is important. If a wildlife or code enforcement office can reach the scene while the violation is taking place, it makes it much easier to prove and support.

Resources for Persons Seeking a Permit
MDLT neither recommends nor endorses the individuals or firms shown here. The list is maintained as a courtesy to the public. If you would like your firm added to this list, please contact [email protected]

Joshua Tree Movers:
The Landscape Center
[Arborist/Tree Mover]
Attn: Dillon Reynolds
9505 Cleveland Avenue, Riverside, CA 92503
(951) 352-8383

Mike Murphy [Arborist/Tree Mover]
(760) 275-4660
Yucca Valley

Joshua Tree Evaluators:
Greg Ainsworth, MCRP [Biologist/CEQA/NEPA/Permitting/Arboriculture/Restoration/Compliance-Construction Monitoring]
Natural Resources and Forestry Director
Rincon Consultants, Inc.
Environmental Scientists | Planners | Engineers
805-644-4455 x3061
818-564-5544 Mobile
805-465-9091 Direct

Arbor Tech Services [Warren Miller ISA #WE-2001A] [Arborist]
(760) 322-2234
[email protected]
PO Box 2509
Palm Springs, CA   92263
Attn: Carissa Sheen
Serving: Entire Coachella Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree

Randy Arnold, Principal & Senior Biologist
RCA Associates, LLC.
15555 Main Street, Suite D4-235
Hesperia, California 92345
760-956-9212 – Office
760-244-0791 – Fax
[email protected]

Mitchel Beauchamp [Biologist/CEQA/Joshua Tree Planning]
Pacific Southwest Biological Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 985
National City, CA 91951
619-477-5380 fax
[email protected]

Envicom Corporation [Botanist/Biologist/Arborist/NEPA/CEQA/Land Planning/Environmental Constraints/Development Suitability/GIS/Permitting and Compliance [CA Fish and Wildlife]
28328 Agoura Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Kay J. Greeley [ISA Certified Arborist/Civil Engineer/Joshua Tree Preservation Plans]
284 Valley Gate Road
Simi Valley, CA 93065

Mark Hagan [Wildlife Biologist/Botany/CEQA/Joshua Tree Preservation Plans]
44715 17th Street East
Lancaster, CA 93535
Cell:  661-433-9956
[email protected]

Richard Ibarra [Consulting Arborist/Joshua Tree Impacts]
Trees, Etc.
P.O. Box 4583
Thousand Oaks, CA 91359

Tip Top Tree Arborists [Arborist]
Attn: Tom Baal
P.O. Box 2107
Lancaster, CA 93539
661-810-3772 cell

Marinna Wagner [Consulting / Reporting]  
ISA Certified Arborist
[email protected]
Yucca Valley, CA

Taylor Guyette [ISA Certified Arborist]
ISA #WE-13016A
[email protected]

Altec Land Planning / Altec Engineering, Inc.
Randy Coleman [AICP, Certified Arborist, Certified Wildlife Biologist, CDFW:Scientific Collecting Permit #11586, PE #36292, PLS #5413, QSD/P] 
Ginger Coleman [MPA, Director of Environmental Planning]
Chad Martin [Project Manager for Surveying/Topography and Grading Plans]
Planning Office: (760) 242-9917
Engineering Office: (760) 242-9900
P.O. Bo 1175
Model Home:
19531 Highway 18
Apple Valley, CA   92307

(1) Desert native plant specialist means: (A) An arborist certified by the International Society of Arborists; or (B) An individual with a four-year college degree in ecology or fish and wildlife related biological science from an accredited college and at least two years of professional experience with relocation or restoration of native California desert vegetation; or (C) An individual with at least five years of professional experience with relocation or restoration of native California desert vegetation.