The “super boom” swarms are forcing the Californian city to say nothing more
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A small California town that was overrun by visitors four years ago when heavy winter rains caused a “superbloom” of wild poppies has a message for the public after this year’s deluge: Don’t come. You can be arrested.
The poppies are beginning to bloom, but so far on a small scale — and the canyon where they grow and parking lots are now completely off limits, Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson said at a news conference where she recounted the chaos of 2019.
“The flowers were beautiful; the scene was a nightmare,” Johnson said.
In the spring and summer, poppies are found throughout California, but usually not as widely as the golden blankets that in 2019 covered the slopes near Lake Elsinore, a city of 71,000 people in Riverside County, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) to the southeast. from Los Angeles.
Walker Canyon, a natural area with a hiking trail located just off busy Interstate 15, has been the focus of excessive attention.
“Also in 2019, there have been numerous safety incidents at the track and on our roads,” Johnson said. “Tens of thousands of people, as many as 100,000 on a weekend—crowds the size of Disneyland—seeking to experience nature trampled the very habitat they valued and sought to enjoy.”
People were illegally parking their cars along the freeway and neighborhoods were so gridlocked that parts of the city were essentially cut off, affecting emergency services and residents’ ability to shop and work, Johnson said.
People waited in lines for hours to see the canyon, and many were unprepared for the hike, leading to injuries.
California Highway Patrol Lt. Craig Palmer said the agency has already begun saturating patrols in the area, and that freeway shoulders are for emergency use only.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco warned that parking violations will not be tolerated and could result in a fine, towing of the vehicle or worse.
“This is a misdemeanor and you are subject to arrest and jail time,” Bianco said.
The mayor said Lake Elsinore usually welcomes visitors, but the 2019 phenomenon cost residents too much.
“This weekend, I encourage you to focus on the Super Bowl and not the Super Boom that we don’t have,” she said.
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