Joshua Tree National Park, an 800,000-acre nature preserve located about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, made news earlier this year as a victim of the 35-day government shutdown.
During the shutdown, many of the park rangers and staff were furloughed, leaving a large portion of the sprawling park unattended. This opened the pristine landscape to vandalism, camp fires, and illegal off-roading.
A few of the park’s iconic Joshua trees were destroyed during the shutdown as well.
Even though the shutdown is over and the park is fully staffed, the massive reserve is still susceptible to damage created by its visitors and their pets.
The park’s namesake are its spiky trees with whirling branches that resemble vegetation in a Dr. Suess book. Joshua Trees can live to about 150 years, but some of the park’s largest trees may be much older.
Although they are called trees, the Joshuas are actually succulents with shallow root systems, so they’re easily be damaged by people climbing, hanging, or pulling yoga poses on their limbs.
To help preserve the National Park’s fragile desert environment, an Instagmmer by the name of @JohsuaTreeHatesYou (JTHY) has been calling out tourists who disrespect the park rules via the “gospel of shame.”
JTHY’s favorite targets are tourists striking yoga poses while trampling on the delicate landscape in an attempt to spirituality signal their way into Instagram likes.
“Gone are the days of climbers and hikers who are familiar with nature and experience it to get away from the world, and without leaving a footprint,” the anonymous Instagrammer told Upworthy via email.
“This new era of tourists come for the fashion show and Instagram likes,” they continued. “They couldn’t care less about destroying the place they claim to have had a ‘magical’ experience” in.”
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“What a unique place to take a photo!”… Said every tourist ever. FYI, coyotes will eat hipster unicorns for breakfast. #joshuatree #joshuatreenationalpark #joshuatreewedding #joshuatreephotographer #joshuatreenps #joshuatreepark #joshuatreecalifornia #joshuatreecamping #joshuatreemusicfestival #dontbeanasshole #eatsandyouhipstertrash
Although some may disagree with JTHY’s condescending, aggressive tone, we can all agree the Instagrammer is doing right by calling attention to the importance of preserving this delicate ecosystem.
After dutifully shaming Instagrammers for their photos in the comments section, JTHY will often educate them on the Joshua Tree:
Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, Yucca Palm, Tree Yucca, and Palm Tree Yucca.
Joshua Trees only grow in one place on Earth- the Mojave Desert (southeast California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.) The root system of a Joshua tree is incredibly shallow. Repeated abuse by tourists, (over three million visitors a year,) is slowly causing their demise, bringing them closer to being added to the endangered list. Joshua trees take roughly 60 years to mature, and can live up to 500+ years! The trunk consists of thousands of small fibers, and lacks annual growth rings. Its top-heavy weight is a recipe for disaster due to its shallow roots.
Hanging, climbing, sitting, swinging, standing, leaning, touching, hugging, supporting your yoga poses, hanging hammocks (or anything else,) on these PROTECTED succulents- (Joshua trees are not actually trees,) are all violations of County and City law…Not to mention incredibly dangerous for the Joshua trees themselves. Any sort of weight or pressure on the branch of a Joshua tree can cause it to break or fall over completely. See a dead one? Leave that alone as well. Dead trees become habitats for local wildlife whether they are still standing or on the ground.
Please be mindful and refrain from contributing to their extinction – you are NOT the ONLY person thinking it may be a “good idea” to use a Joshua tree as an Instagram photo prop!
Here are just a few of JTH’s posts along with their comments.
“Just get over yourself already. A protected plant is actually more important than your Instagram likes… Smh. The fuck is wrong with people. “
Well at least we know who’s responsible…. For deleting comments instead of their dumb photo.
Anyone want to gift this lady a scholarship to Zoolander’s School for Kids who can’t read good? I’ll never understand assholes like these…
Submitted by a loyal follower, and simply hysterical.
Oh… You know… Just throwing hatchets at Joshua Trees.
Actions such as hanging from branches, climbing, sitting on branches, leaning on branches, supporting your yoga poses on trunks, hanging hammocks from branches, and standing on these PROTECTED trees are all things that are incredibly dangerous for them. They are in fact, a succulent- not a tree. Their roots are shallow, and repeated abuse by tourists, dangered list, which is why they are PROTECTED BY LAW.
Dead or alive, we prefer to have our trees standing if possible. It looks pretty, others can enjoy it, and animals can continue to use it as their habitat and as a safe place away from predators. If you want to claim something, learn to rock climb. There are plenty of organizations and guides that will help you on your journey.
Joshua Tree National Park is not here for you to have a 30 second “spiritual experience” while posing for an Instagram photo. Protected wildlife is not there as a photo prop. You can’t handle this, then please venture elsewhere. The desert deserves better.
When your soul is darker than a black steer’s tuckus on a moonless prairie night. Actions such as hanging from branches, climbing, sitting on branches, leaning on branches, supporting your yoga poses on trunks, hanging hammocks from branches, and standing on these PROTECTED trees are all things that are incredibly dangerous for them.
Please don’t dump paint all over the rocks.
@subaru_usa pulling a @reebokclassics and using Joshua Tree abuse to promote their product. Did you have a permit to film? No. A ranger would not have let. This happen.
Pretty much over this whole “I abuse Joshua Trees because it’s Christmas” bs.
Work on your balance, don’t endanger a Joshua Tree. SO tired of these cliché tourist photos. Smh.
Karen A. and Karen B. seem to think that posing on Joshua Trees is cool. You suck, Karens. Most of the submissions we receive are like this–copycat “models” doing anything for Instagram likes. The is a national park, respect it, you fucking plebs.
Shout out to @what.joshua.trees.think for this amazing post
Please don’t litter in #jtnp, there are designated trash receptacles available in multiple campgrounds. Keep your #trash off our trees.
Posts that make their way to the feed come only after multiple attempts to inform the “park violator” of their misdeeds.
“Before any post is made, featuring a park or Joshua Tree violation, we make multiple attempts at polite education,” JTHY told Upworthy. “If they STILL refuse to be educated, delete comments and block people, then their photo is captioned and posted. The entire goal is to get them to delete their post before it comes to this.”
JTHY’s game of Instagram whack-a-mole is important because every time someone posts a photo of themselves hurting the national park’s natural landscape it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.
“Destroying Joshua Trees out of ignorance has become an Instagram craze and an enormous problem,” JTHY told Upworthy. “It’s quite literally an Instagram fad to take a photos while hanging and/or climbing on Joshua Trees. So if that post stays up, more people see it, and the fad continues to perpetuate itself.”
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