How to Apply for a Free Permit to Remove a Dead Western Joshua Tree or Trim a Western Joshua Tree

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Step 1: Determine if you qualify for a permit.

CDFW may issue a western Joshua tree hazard management permit (Permit) to a property owner that authorizes either:

  • The removal or trimming of a dead western Joshua tree
  • The trimming of a living western Joshua tree

A western Joshua tree is considered “dead” if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Has not burned and has no green leaves, no new growth on the main stem, and no sprouts at the base
  • Has partially or fully burned at least 18 months prior, has no green leaves, no new growth on the main stem, and no sprouts at the base
  • Has fallen and is completely detached from its roots or has fallen and its roots are no longer in contact with the soil

A hazard management permit will only be issued if the dead western Joshua tree(s) or any limb(s) to be removed meet one of conditions listed below (see photos for condition examples):

  1. Has fallen over and is within 30 feet of a structure
    NOTE: A structure may include, but is not limited to, a residence, an accessory dwelling unit or addition to an existing residence, garage, carport, swimming pool, patio, greenhouse, storage shed, gazebo, septic tank, sewer connection, solar panels, fence, or gravel or paved driveway.
    a dead Joshua tree that has completely separated at the roots and is lying within 30 feet of a property wall
    Figure 1. Dead and detached western Joshua Tree within 30 feet of a structure.
    a Joshua tree limb that has fallen from a living tree and is lying on the ground within 30 feet of a house
    Figure 2. Fallen Western Joshua tree limb within 30 feet of a structure.
  2. Is leaning against an existing structure
    Joshua tree limb leaning against the corner of a house
    Figure 3. Western Joshua tree leaning against an existing structure.
  3. Creates an imminent threat to public health and safety
    Joshua tree that has broken and is leaning against power pole support cables
    Figure 4. Broken western Joshua tree threatening power infrastructure.

For any questions regarding the hazard management permit program, contact If you would like to remove a healthy western Joshua tree or the conditions to obtain a hazard management permit do not apply to your situation, visit the main WJT page for more information.

Step 2: Complete the application.

Step 3: Fill out contact and location information.

Section 1 of the form requires the contact information for the property owner and the location of the western Joshua tree(s). A hazard management permit must be requested by the property owner.

screenshot of application - section 1

The location of the property must be provided in Section 2. If the property does not have a street address, you can provide the Assessor’s Parcel Number.

screenshot of application - section 2

Step 4: Describe the condition of each western Joshua tree.

Complete the table in Section 3 noting the condition of each tree you are requesting a permit to remove or trim. Example:

screenshot of application - section 3


  1. Has fallen over and is within 30 feet of a structure
  2. Is leaning against an existing structure
  3. Creates an imminent threat to public health or safety

Step 5: Take photos.

To complete Section 4, take photos of each western Joshua tree that show the condition of the tree (e.g., dead or alive, detached or not), its location relative to property structure(s), and any other details that may assist CDFW in determining that each tree qualifies for a hazard management permit.

Photographs should be taken from an adequate distance and angle(s), to allow CDFW to determine the condition of the trees and their locations relative to any existing structure(s).

If requesting management of multiple trees, complete the photo table using additional attachments, if needed. To expedite processing, it is helpful if photos are labeled and organized. Example:

screenshot of application - section 4

For trimming requests, it will help expedite processing to circle or note which limbs would be trimmed or removed.

a circle drawn around portion of Joshua tree that is leaning against; text says 'trim tree'
Figure 5. Example of photo labeling.

Step 6: Provide additional information (if needed).

Section 5 is an optional section to include any additional information that may be relevant to the permit application.

Step 7: Attestation or Certification required for dead western Joshua tree.

When a dead western Joshua tree is proposed for removal or trimming, applications must include either a signed attestation from the property owner or a certification from a desert native plant specialist that the tree meets the definition of a dead western Joshua tree.1

A signed attestation/certification is not required in cases where only trimming of a live western Joshua tree is proposed.

Step 8: Submit application and photos.

Submit your application online by either email or U.S. Mail to: (Preferred)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
Attention: Western Joshua Tree Permitting
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090


If you have questions or need assistance with your application, contact


  1. As defined in Fish and Game Code section 1927.1, subdivision (d).

Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090