Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most picturesque attractions in the country, and now, photos that Miley Cyrus posted of the namesake trees are causing some controversy. She shared a pair of photos yesterday of herself sitting on a Joshua tree branch, and that has led to some significant criticism, as the trees are both near-endangered and structurally fragile.
Chris Clarke, California Desert Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, summed up the problems the Joshua tree (species name Yucca brevifolia) faces when he said earlier this year, “Joshua trees look tough, with their rough bark and their sharp edges, but they are remarkably delicate. They have been suggested for listing as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. They need every bit of protection they have and more.” The San Bernardino County Department Of Public Works also notes that “Joshua trees are protected under many city and county ordinances.”
Many people have reacted to Cyrus’ photos, including officials from various organizations. Mojave Desert Land Trust Executive Director Geary Hund said in a statement that Joshua trees have a shallow root system and that weight put on branches could damage them, saying, “We ask that Miley Cyrus consider her status as a public figure and remove this photo from her social media accounts in order to educate others and to prevent potential damage to Joshua trees.”
It’s not clear if Cyrus’ photos were taken in Joshua Tree National Park or somewhere else, but park spokesperson George Land also said, “While we would appreciate it that people would respect the fact that desert vegetation is a little bit fragile at times, we don’t want to incite people to carry out some kind of threat against Miley Cyrus, or anybody else that would do that. We would just remind her that she has a big following, people watch what she does, and it would be greatly appreciated by the Park Service and the people around the area if she would maybe curb that type of activity, especially posting it on her social media page.”
People online have also responded to Cyrus’ photos, criticizing her choice to climb the tree, which could have potentially damaged it.
Cyrus has yet to respond to any of the backlash. In other news, though, she recently brought back her titular Hannah Montana character to celebrate the show’s anniversary.