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Joshua Tree locals are torn about the area's tourism "boom"




File: View of a Joshua tree in the 1,234-square-mile Joshua Tree National Park, April 7, 2008.
File: View of a Joshua tree in the 1,234-square-mile Joshua Tree National Park, April 7, 2008.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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U2 may have put Joshua Tree on the map. And in more recent years, a lot of hip, young people have finally found what they're looking for in this small desert town just north of Palm Springs – a rustic outdoor life, a quirky artist community, Instagram-ready landscapes and more.

But a wave of new visitors has many long-time residents saying the dreaded "G" word. Gentrification.

"Locals are really torn about this influx," says Kristin Scharkey, editor of Desert magazine. "They are so excited to have people that want to experience the desert, they want to share this landscape. But there are some growing pains."

There are concerns about how visitors treat the fragile ecosystem of the desert and possibly damaging iconic Joshua trees for a photo, for example.

Scharkey talked with more long-time residents for her latest story, "Is the Instagram generation filtering Joshua Tree's true character?"

Listen to how more visitors have caused a boom that some residents like, while others are worried about. Click the audio player above.