LAKE ELSINORE (CNS) - Officials from the city of Lake Elsinore, joined by state and county authorities, today will announce strategies for preventing ongoing “Super Bloom” madness revolving around Walker Canyon, especially this weekend.
Along with Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos, Riverside County Transportation & Land Management Agency Director Juan Perez, sheriff's Capt. Michael Lujan and Riverside-area CHP Commander John Tyler, will be on hand to outline what measures are in the works.
The briefing comes after a chaotic weekend when tens of thousands of sightseers poured into Lake Elsinore and surrounding communities, bringing traffic to a virtual standstill on I-15 for hours and turning some city streets into veritable parking lots.
The influx of out-of-towners was the result of demand to take pictures and stroll through the carpets of yellow poppies blanketing hillsides in Walker Canyon.
“The blooming poppies may be fun to look at, but the traffic problems they've created are unmatched in the county,” Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, a longtime Lake Elsinore resident, said Tuesday. “We're seeing 40,000 to 50,000 people going down there on a given day. It has done irreparable harm to our local residents. People in Temescal Valley have been unable to get in or out of their homes and businesses.”
Jeffries complained that the CHP and sheriff's department were “overwhelmed” Saturday and Sunday by the mass of motorists who descended on Walker Canyon along Interstate 15, as well as just to the west of Lake Elsinore, along the Ortega (74) Highway, where one lane of the two-lane corridor had to be shut down Sunday because of the volume of vehicles parking on the narrow shoulders.
The supervisor said that the blooms in the Cleveland National Forest attracted the throngs on the 74.
At one point Sunday, the CHP estimated 500 vehicles had parked on the shoulder of I-15 at Lake Street, where occupants headed off into the canyon to traipse through the poppy fields.
Area residents fumed in social media posts that vegetation was being needlessly trampled and not enough law enforcement resources were in place to deter motorists from taking hazardous risks to reach the canyon.
Photo: Getty Images