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The Air Apparent

Joshua Tree Real Estate Broker and Artist Attest to Impact of Air Pollution in Joshua Tree National Park on Local Commerce


WASHINGTON, D.C. March 25th, 2014— In an effort sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Peter and Melissa Spurr of Joshua Tree, California met with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to express concerns that poor air quality in Joshua Tree National Park could harm their local economy.

Peter Spurr, a Joshua Tree real estate broker, remarked that his clients buy homes in the area after falling in love with the national park’s natural wonder and hundred-mile views. “Many of us in the business community revere the national park both for its timeless beauty and also for its ability to deliver economic stability to the region. For these reasons, the vitality and aesthetics of the park must be protected,” Peter Spurr added.

Melissa Spurr, an artist and photographer, asserted that national park visitors are the lifeblood of the local creative community. She proclaimed, “Travelers enchanted with the wild wonder of Joshua Tree National Park often take reminders of it with them in the forms of photographs, paintings, sculptures, carvings and other handcrafted artwork. If the park continues to attract visitors, our creative industry will continue to thrive and grow. But if air pollution increasingly plagues Joshua Tree National Park, I fear that the flow of visitors will trickle to a halt, and the vibrant arts for which our area is famous will wither away.”

Smog blown in from the Port of Los Angeles, Inland Empire industrial zones and car-centric suburbs earn Joshua Tree National Park’s skies the dubious distinction of being among the most polluted in the national park system. Further, airborne nitrogen settles in the park’s rocky soil and stimulates the growth of invasive grasses that ignite during lightning storms, causing conflagrations that destroy iconic and virtually irreplaceable Joshua Trees.

In 2012, 1.3 million visitors to Joshua Tree National Park spent 62 million dollars in gateway communities. According to NPCA’s Seth Shteir, “Studies show that two of the most valued resources of our California desert national parks are clean air and spectacular viewsheds. Visitors from around the globe and around the country flock to parks like Joshua Tree for its unrivaled vistas and generate millions of dollars of revenue for our local economy. There is both an economic and environmental imperative to improve Joshua Tree National Park’s air quality for future generations.”

Complete transcripts of the Spurrs’ commentary may be found at:


Peter and Melissa Spurr in the halls of the Department of Interior after meeting with DOI officials.  The mural, one of many that adorn the walls of the DOI, is “Placer Mining for Gold” by Ernest Fiene, 1938.