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.