How to Secure and Expedite Western Joshua Tree Incidental Take Permits

The western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) is a species of ecological and cultural importance that occurs across large swathes of California’s desert. In early 2023, the California Fish and Game Commission considered listing the western Joshua tree as a threatened species but has not yet made a decision about whether it will do so. 

However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) passed the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act (WJTCA) in July 2023. The WJTCA creates a framework of mitigation actions to offset the impacts of permitted projects that negatively impact western Joshua trees and helps conserve the species on a landscape scale, while also supporting the state’s renewable energy and housing priorities.

Those interested in paying an in-lieu fee rather than completing mitigation actions have the option of applying for a WJTCA Incidental Take Permit (ITP). All fees are deposited into the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Fund for the express purpose of acquiring, conserving, and managing western Joshua tree conservation lands. 

Understanding the WJTCA ITP Application Process  

Dudek biologist Megan Enright met with CDFW to discuss the WJTCA ITP application process, as well as what kind of timelines to expect.  

  • A western Joshua tree census must be completed before you can apply for a WJTCA ITP. 
  • CDFW is notified once a WJTCA ITP application is submitted, a tracking number is issued, and a CDFW supervisor and staff member are assigned to your project. 
  • During the application review period, CDFW staff will reach out with questions via email, phone, or through CDFW’s Environmental Permit Information Management System (EPIMS).  
  • Once the review is complete, CDFW will prepare and submit an invoice with clear payment instructions. 
  • Fees range from $150 – $2,500 per tree and must be submitted before the permit can be issued. 

3 Tips to Streamline a WJTCA ITP Application 

Overall, it takes CFDW around 30 days to review applications and 90 days to issue a permit. They also shared some time-saving tips with us. 

1. Communicate with CDFW early and often. 
2. Provide construction schedules to stay in communication about priorities. 
3. Email your assigned CDFW contact weekly.

Need help with the western Joshua tree permitting process? Dudek has successfully performed multiple western Joshua tree censuses and is actively preparing over a dozen WJTCA ITPs, ensuring strict compliance with CDFW requirements.  

Contact us for more information on how we can support you with western Joshua tree permitting and support services for your project.