Great news for bargain hunters everywhere: it has never been cheaper to get away with cutting down, rare, nearly endangered Joshua trees! Just ask California couple Jeffrey Walter and Jonetta Nordberg-Walter, who were recently caught bulldozing, uprooting, and burying 36 Joshua trees so they could clear the land and build a house in, ironically, the census-designated place of Joshua Tree, San Bernardino County.
Joshua trees, also known as yucca, are currently under legal protection in California — meaning it’s against the law to damage or remove them — as they’re under review to be classified under the California Endangered Species Act because they are particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change. But don’t let that technicality deter you. The Walters, who claimed that they didn’t know it was illegal to remove the trees despite their neighbor explicitly telling them that it was illegal to remove the trees, only had to pay $9,000 each for their little oopsie.
Ordinarily, each Joshua tree removal would come with a misdemeanor charge worth a fine of up to $4,100 and/or six months in jail. Negotiating from a potential total of $147,600 and/or 18 years in jail down to just $18,000 with the possibility of further reduction through volunteer work? Sounds like someone is a real wheeler and dealer :)
Now what are you waiting for, dealmaster? Get out there and chop till you drop!