To avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenario that occurred during the last “super bloom” in 2019, a canyon known for its rich poppy fields will be closed to the public.
Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson, along with Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and others, announced earlier this week that the Walker Canyon trailhead and wildflower fields along it will be closed to all visitors this spring.
The city will enact a “keep out” policy with zero tolerance.
“Our community’s safety is our primary concern,” Johnson said during a news conference near the Walker Canyon Trailhead.
‘The flowers were lovely, but the setting was a nightmare.’
Lake Elsinore typically welcomes visitors, according to the mayor, but the cost became prohibitively expensive for residents in 2019. The super bloom occurred in the aftermath of heavy winter rains and quickly became a “international phenomenon,” drawing “Disneyland-size crowds” that caused numerous problems on trails and roads, according to Johnson.
This year’s bloom is expected to be less vibrant because it is mostly green and in its early stages.
“In comparison to 2019, this (bloom) is like day and night. But here we are again, discussing another large bloom.”
The influx of tens of thousands of visitors who descended on the area the weekend before the official start of spring caught officials off guard. According to the mayor, the previous event is still fresh in his mind.
“The last time was like something out of a movie,” Johnson remarked. “The motorway was completely shut down, with people exiting their vehicles. Our first responders were having difficulty navigating traffic.”
“For several weeks, our residents had no quality of life. “The flowers were lovely, but the scene was a nightmare,” said the mayor.
Poppies haven’t blanketed hillsides since the 2019 bloom because of the heat and drought.
Walker Canyon’s zero-tolerance policy in Lake Elsinore
Vehicles that are illegally parked near Walker Canyon will be impounded and towed, and anyone who ignores the closure signs and enters the canyon will be arrested, according to the sheriff.
Bianco described the recently announced hard closure as a “educational and enforcement response” to the large number of visitors “who had no regard for the residents or properties.”
“”We will have zero tolerance for people who are trespassing here,” said the sheriff. “Last time, there were numerous injuries and we had to perform numerous rescues. We are doing everything possible to avoid this.”
During the press conference, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson stated that drivers should only use the motorway shoulders in an emergency and not for photo stops.
How can you see the super bloom without breaking the law?
The city’s Walker Canyon camera can be used to view the poppy bloom.
Riverside County Parks and Recreation also provides online maps of potential bloom sites.