Are these the makings of an apocalypse?
A hit and run, a rattlesnake attack and irate residents shouting at traffic controllers are just a few incidents that sum up the super bloom crisis this past weekend in Lake Elsinore, CA.
Following a period of heavy rainfall, a plethora of golden-hued poppies bloomed and blanketed across coastal mountains and deserts. The inclement weather is the ideal condition for the wildflowers to be in ‘superbloom mode.’
“Blooms like this are a rare thing,” said Neil Frakes, the vegetation branch manager at Joshua Tree National Park. “We want as many people as possible to enjoy it, but it’s really impacted by trampling.”
This past weekend, city officials of Lake Elsinore, CA – a small town of nearly 66,000 residents – shut down Walker Canyon in an effort to mitigate the havoc wreaked by the influx of visitors pilgrimaging to see the super bloom.
Since the poppies bloomed on the steep side of Walker Canyon, and not on a flat stretch of land, visitors took to free climbing to get their Instagram-worthy shot.
Nearly 50,000 visitors showed up and with that, a plethora of problems led to the shutdown: traffic congestion, a hit and run, a snake biting a visitor, crying children, scraped knees, toppling boulders and damage to the poppy fields were all matters of public safety concerns.
An announcement was made in a Lake Elsinore Facebook post that, “The situation has escalated beyond our available resources…This weekend has been unbearable Lake Elsinore.”
Walker Canyon has since reopened, but officials are requesting that visitors wait a few days since it’s a matter of public safety.
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The City has expended all available resources to address the #SuperBloom. We have brought in all available staff, as many outside traffic controllers that we could, more shuttles, and our small City can not sustain crowds of this magnitude – our City is not made for Disneyland size crowds. We have reached out to our neighboring and county agencies for help. We have reached out to Caltrans. We have reached out to CHP. We are running out of options. # #Residents: Please we need your help and understanding. This is beyond our control. So please stay out of this area and stay off local roads if possible. # #Visitors: If you can come another day or a weekday, please do. The wait times are increasing, the shuttles are stuck in traffic, and we encourage you to consider waiting for another day. # The City is truly trying to do the best and right thing. While the community has expressed many concerns, please understand that many things are beyond our control and we are doing what we can. We wish we could do more. # People are creating chaos out there and we have already had an injury. This is a public safety crisis so we ask your support.
[Image Source: Wikimedia/ Doncram]