Record crowds are coming out to view Southern California’s record wildflower bloom — and trampling the blossoms. The turnout has been so massive that a section of one of the best wildflower trails in Riverside Country was temporarily closed to visitors.
“We haven’t seen these kinds of crowds. Ever,” Wendy Picht, an environmental specialist for the Metropolitan Water District, which manages the area, told KPCC radio in Los Angeles.
This year’s “super bloom” is what happens when the ground gets plenty of rainfall after years of drought. The problem now is that visitors stray from the trails to get just the right photo, trampling sections of flowers — and even sitting on them. Others pose for Instagram photos holding huge bouquets of just-picked wildflowers.
One of the most spectacular areas is the Wildflower Trail at Diamond Valley Lake, which is a reservoir outside Hemet. A portion of the trail was shut down March 29 and was reopened Wednesday, just five days a week. Extra staff has been added to the area to police visitors, and new signs warn people to stay on the trails.
“It happened sort of suddenly, people started disregarding the rules and trail guides,” Picht told the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t really blame them, but at the same time, we couldn’t allow that.”
The destruction has been so severe that specialists were brought in to assess the damage. Plants killed and seeds crushed will have a significant effect next season. Some of the areas may be replanted, KQED in San Francisco reported.
“It’s upsetting to see the destruction,” environmental specialist Alex Marks told KPCC. “You can stand back and you can see the beauty of it without getting so close and trampling everything.”
The bloom has been described as once in a lifetime as plants lying dormant in the drought are coming to life at once. Desert asters and dandelions, Parishes poppies, sand verbena, phacelia and lupine are expected to peak this month.
The carpets of wildflowers are stretching north into California’s Central Valley. A Facebook posting by the Department of the Interior said the “endless expanses of flowers” popping up at the Carrizo Plain National Monument and the Temblor Range near San Luis Obisbo are “simply indescribable.”