Joshua Tree’s Popularity Might Be Its Worst Enemy

The region grew more popular during the pandemic

Joshua Tree
Can a place become too popular?
Austin Spencer/Unsplash

It’s become an all-too-familiar story by this point: an idyllic town gradually becomes a popular destination — whether for vacation or relocation — for a small group of people. Eventually, more people learn of its appeal and the influx of new residents grows. And eventually, a certain threshold is reached, and the place is forever changed — and a lot of the sources of its appeal are gone forever.

It’s happened everywhere from Bali to Venice, and there’s some alarming news for those fond of scenic trips through the desert and distinctive plant life. A new article at the Los Angeles Times notes that Joshua Tree is at something of a crossroads — its popularity on the rise, but at the potential risk of losing much of what makes it special.

The article points out that the pandemic made Joshua Tree even more popular as a destination than it had been beforehand. That’s not necessarily surprising — but it’s also led to the ages-old clash between growth and preservation. It’s made for a boom for local businesses, but it’s also led to rents increasing and traffic getting nastier.

There’s another factor in here that could play a significant part in the region’s changes — or lack thereof. Those would be the Joshua trees, which could end up being deemed a Threatened Species by the state. That designation could have an impact on future construction in the area, making for one more variable in an ongoing transformation.

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