Project Description


California Endangered Species Act


According to the California Fish and Wildlife website, “The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) is a California environmental law enacted in 1970 and amended in 1984 and 1997 that conserves and protects plant and animal species at risk of extinction. Plant and animal species may be designated threatened or endangered under CESA after a formal listing process by the California Fish and Game Commission

“Approximately 250 species are currently listed under CESA. A CESA-listed species, or any part or product of the plant or animal, may not be imported into the state, exported out of the state, “taken” (i.e., killed), possessed, purchased, or sold without proper authorization.” 

CESA is important for the California Desert because it protects many endemic species critical to a healthy desert ecosystem. As of September 2020, the western Joshua tree is one of these protected, endangered species, along with the desert tortoise, Mohave tui chub, Desert pupfish, Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, and the Amargosa vole.


Imagine this: Joshua trees have recently been listed for protection under CESA. You just purchased property in the desert and want to build a house. Down the street, the owners of a retreat center want to build a parking lot, and the County wants to build a new housing development. There are Joshua trees growing throughout these areas. Without CESA, these Joshua trees would be ripped up and dumped.

Community members need to know about the dos and don’t of CESA listings and how they can help support species restoration and the healthy landscapes where we love to live, work, and play.


Our goals are to make sure that community members:

  • Understand how CESA works so that you can get involved in the public process, hold state and local agencies accountable, and support efforts to recognize new threatened and endangered species.
  • Understand the importance of CESA so that you can mobilize and take action.
  • Focus attention on specific projects in the California desert to ensure the CESA process is utilized to protect the ecology of the California desert, and its communities’ way of life. 




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