ANTELOPE VALLEY (CBSLA) — A helicopter recently landed in the blooming fields of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, prompting officials to repeat a rule that most people already knew – don’t land a helicopter in a poppy reserve.
An image taken by a visitor to the reserve, which is part of the California State Parks system, showed a small black helicopter parked in the reserve among the fields of blooming poppies and bushes of lacy phacelia.
“We never thought it would be explicitly necessary to state that it is illegal to land a helicopter in the middle of the fields and begin hiking off the trail in the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, but recent events have shown that we were wrong,” the Facebook post said.
The post added that when law enforcement staff tried to talk to the couple, they ran back to their helicopter and flew off.
The staff overseeing the reserve maintained a sense of humor over the incident, joking that their delivery of “flying patrol trucks has been delayed” so the officer was not able to purse the helicopter.
Helicopters are not allowed in California State Parks unless it’s an emergency helicopter or authorized agencies by the district, California State Parks spokesman Jorge Moreno said in an email.
The so-called “superbloom” of vibrant orange California poppies has sent people into a frenzy searching for opportunities to see the wildflowers up close and get the perfect shot to post to social media.
“This year, I’m rating it a nine-and-a-half out of 10,” a park ranger said of the Antelope Valley bloom.
Frequent storms dropping heavy rain from November through the beginning of March has fueled a superbloom at several Southern California sites.
In Lake Elsinore, Walker Canyon has seen amusement park-sized crowds most weekends this month, which ground traffic on the adjacent 15 Freeway to a crawl and prompted some drivers to illegally park their cars on the side of the freeway. The hordes of visitors trampled many of the fragile blooms and strained city resources to the point that the Walker Canyon was temporarily shut down, before new traffic rules and a $10 shuttle were put in place.
“We’re looking at an extended season, maybe into May,” the ranger said. “We’ve had rains that have continued through the season, and these poppies probably have enough moisture built up in the soil.”
Visitors to the reserve are welcome, but are advised to arrive early, bring food and water, and leave the dogs at home — they are not allowed at state parks.
“If you don’t come this year, you may be sorry,” wildflower enthusiast Chuck Conway said with a chuckle.