As often as home ownership is cited as a part of this larger “American Dream” that we are all striving for, it sure is surprising how little you can do on your own property without have the government involved…especially given that this nation was founded on the idea of freedom from an oppressive government.
In California, one couple learned this lesson in a very expensive way, after one of their neighbors rattled them out to local officials over some landscaping choices they had made on their own property.
A California couple looking to build a home on a plot of land they own uprooted 36 Joshua trees to make room for it—and ended up fined $18,000 as a result.
Why all the hubbub about these plants?
Joshua trees, which are not actually trees but succulents technically named Yucca brevifolia, are imperiled, their numbers dwindling due to extreme weather caused by climate change, fire, and damage to Joshua Tree National Park that occurred during the government shutdown that ended in January 2019. They are being considered for protection under California’s endangered species act, and it is already illegal in the state to disturb, replant, or remove them, the Guardian reports. Taking a Joshua tree is punishable by up to $4,100 in fines plus six months behind bars.
The couple could see those fines reduced, and have the infraction expunged, should they choose to volunteer time at a local charity that focuses on the Joshua Tree.