Couple who bulldozed and buried dozens of Joshua trees to make way for home fined $18K

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A couple who bulldozed and buried 36 Joshua Trees to make way for a home were recently fined $18,000 — a punishment authorities hope will deter others from destroying the iconic trees.

“I would hope that the person that would otherwise take, remove, bulldoze a Joshua tree would understand that they are facing fairly significant criminal liability for doing so,” said Douglas Poston, supervising deputy district attorney with the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office.

An investigation into the destruction began Feb. 11, when a Morongo Basin resident saw his neighbors using a tractor to mow down dozens of the twisted, bristled trees and reported it to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife through a tip line, wildlife officials said.

Not long before, the neighbor — who was not identified — noticed the trees were marked for removal and warned Jeffrey Walter and Jonetta Nordberg-Walter not to take them out.

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