California Poppy Fields

Staff Photographer

Avery Skinner, Staff Writer

In Lake Elsinore, spring brought a pleasant surprise when it came this year. Attracting huge crowds, California’s natural wild poppies magically grew in the hills by the freeway. The hills quickly became very popular due to the drought that California has been in recently, which has officially ended after weeks of rain and even a little snow. However, these beautiful flowers caused many problems, and have even caused access to them to be shut down due to horrendous traffic. 

The majority of the problems had to do with the aforementioned traffic, because of the size of the crowds. Tens of thousands of people were coming to take pictures and to walk or hike around the flowers. Along with the streets, social media was being overwhelmed by the visitors of the flowers. Many of the visitors were posting pictures of them in the poppy fields, causing more and more people to see them and want to go themselves. People have been doing everything they can just to get these pictures, even parking on the shoulder of the highway, or wherever they can find a convenient spot. The measures taken have been so extreme that on Tuesday, California Highway Patrol made an attempt to stop the tourists. There was an estimate of 500 vehicles parked on the side of the Highway. They shut down all the exits on Highway 15 that lead to the flowers, basically blocking any access to the fields completely. 

The news of so many problems that we cause just to look at flowers is almost embarrassing. Humans these days are so blind to see the perspective and thoughts of others, they are only focused on themselves. Though it seems like a small inconvenience to the tourists, it had a bigger effect on the drivers around them, who already spend more time than anticipated in their cars. Now, their commutes have been extended because someone wanted to partake in a photo shoot. It is important to enjoy the beauty of the Earth we live in, but there is a line that we need to stay behind. That line is crossed when the freeway has to be shut down. As a society, we need to work on putting others before ourselves. Or at least putting others before our Instagram feed. Most of the visitors weren’t even there to enjoy the wildflowers, they just wanted to take pictures.

The fields were temporarily shut down on Sunday, but when they were reopened on Monday, the Lake Elsinore mayor ended up asking the visitors to steer clear of the poppies. It’s a very good thing that people are out in nature, no matter the reason, but it is important that they stay on the trails and treat the area with respect so the poppies can grow back next year.

Personally, I think that the massive crowds and all the people causing traffic are a little excessive. It’s really dumb how people are causing all of this just for a picture. I can understand wanting a picture, but when it escalates to this, it’s just not worth it. If we’re not in another drought next year at springtime, it’ll be interesting to see how the people react to all the flowers blooming.