On June 16, 2022, a vote by the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) on whether the Western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) should be listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) resulted in a 2-2 tie. Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, the Western Joshua tree will remain a “candidate” under CESA and the issue will be taken up again at a subsequent Commission meeting. The Commission will take up the Western Joshua tree’s listing status at the agency’s October 12-13, 2022 meeting and will re-open the comment period on the species’ status specifically to seek additional tribal coordination. The Commission passed a motion directing the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to report back to the Commission at the October meeting on the prospects of a range-wide conservation plan for the species.
The Western Joshua tree was petitioned for listing under CESA by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, and on September 22, 2020, the Commission declared the species as a candidate under CESA. Dozens of commenters presented their perspectives at the Commission’s meeting on June 15, 2022, and the Commission engaged in lengthy discussions on whether the Western Joshua tree should be listed during its meeting on June 16, 2022. Among the topics discussed by the Commission were whether sufficient Tribal coordination had been conducted, whether additional peer review should be received, and the advisability of working toward a range-wide conservation plan under state law.