I Thought They Were Protected Image

I Thought They Were Protected

By Jason Delgado | June 23, 2024

PALM SPRINGS SHORTFEST 2024 REVIEW! Filmmaker Casey Kiernan examines the rapidly shrinking Joshua Tree population in his short documentary I Thought They Were Protected. This is an issue near and dear to Palm Springs. The film is a mix of scenic shots of the desert along with C-Span segments discussing regulations passed and the local public’s reaction to the devastation occurring to the beautiful Joshua Trees.

To be perfectly honest, C-Span clips would normally put me to sleep, but even those parts of this movie are fascinating. We learn about the apparent victory of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein in elevating Death Valley and Joshua Tree to National Park status in order to preserve the habitat. However, we also learn that, unfortunately, there are loopholes that have been exploited for the development of big box stores such as Walmart. The developers bulldoze Joshua Trees like there is no tomorrow.

“…rapidly shrinking Joshua Tree population…”

Kiernan reveals that, shockingly, Joshua Trees are expected to be extinct by the turn of the century. This is sad for anyone who has ever enjoyed the beauty of a Joshua Tree. Many fans have begun flocking to stay in the area over recent years to take photos or just soak in the endangered scenery. Global warming is another deadly killer of the Joshua Tree because of the mass fires that now happen frequently in the area. Climate change has allowed certain grasses to grow that are not native to the desert,  causing fires to run rampant in new areas.

Local citizens are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore by protesting in the streets and calling into fish and game meetings where rules are made governing development. I Thought They Were Protected inspires by showcasing the passion of the people to protect the Joshua Tree. Kiernan’s decision to spotlight such a vital environmental issue is also commendable. If the Joshua Tree goes extinct, it will cause a ripple effect up the food chain. We must save them before it becomes too late.

I Thought They Were Protected screened at the 2024 Palm Springs Shortfest.

 I Thought They Were Protected (2024)

Directed: Casey Kiernan


Starring: Christina Sanchez, Brendan Cummings, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

 I Thought They Were Protected Image


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