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.
Joshua Tree National Park could take 200 to 300 years to recover from shutdown damage https://t.co/wTpIDMdlPr via… https://t.co/mlbuxsHArX— mad floridian (@mad floridian)1550264383.0
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
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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. "