Preparing for ‘superbloom’, Lake Elsinore closes Walker Canyon Road

The first handfuls of golden poppies have started to appear on the hillsides of Lake Elsinore, and local officials are bracing for the onslaught of traffic and ecotourists who will soon follow and marvel at what could be a ‘superbloom’ wildflowers.

In 2019, the quiet county town of Riverside saw thousands flock to town to enjoy the bursts of color. And the results have been chaotic, according to city officials.

A record streak of California storms beginning in late December raised hopes for a robust superbloom season in Southern California, drawing people from across the region to experience the ephemeral natural display of vibrant wildflowers. .

In anticipation of the arrival of the crowds that will invade the hiking trails, the City of Lake Elsinore has closed Walker Canyon Road and posted no parking signs on nearby streets. Officers will patrol areas and issue citations, officials said.

Flower-lovers swarmed the trails of Lake Elsinore in February 2019, when thousands of bright orange poppies blanketed the landscape, giving people an Instagram-worthy panorama. But nearby roads and Interstate 15 were clogged with traffic as tourists strolled. the poppies and looked for parking.

An overwhelming influx of guests strained the area with “Disneyland-sized crowds”, according to local officials, who declared a #PoppyNightmare on their social media. Residents were urged to stay off local roads and avoid Walker Canyon. Shuttles meant to bring guests to the fields were stuck in traffic and some people parked their cars on the freeway, officials said.

A couple landed a helicopter in a poppy field at California’s Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, prompting an exasperated response from state officials.

It remains unclear if this year will produce the same dazzling display of wildflowers.

Customers should be aware of their surroundings and their literal footprints, said research ecologist Daniel Winkler of the US Geological Survey’s Southwest Biological Science Center.

“Staying on trails, in desert systems, is probably the most important piece of advice you can get, because desert soils are incredibly fragile when it comes to humans and impacts,” Winkler said.

Los Angeles Times

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