LANCASTER, Calif. — Officials with the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster never thought they’d have to warn people not to land a helicopter in the middle of the fields – that is, until someone actually did.
In light of that recent event, a warning was posted to the reserve’s Facebook page on Tuesday morning.
“We never thought it would be explicitly necessary to state that it is illegal to land a helicopter in the middle of the fields,” the post stated. “We were wrong.”
Apparently, a couple landed the helicopter in the field and began hiking off a nearby trail within the reserve, which is about 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and part of the California State Parks system.
The hike didn’t last long, however, as law enforcement immediately intervened, according to post. They tried to contact the couple, who promptly ran back to the helicopter and flew away.
The incident drew a largely negative response from Facebook users, many who were stunned by the entitlement of the act.
“Money buys arrogance and sense of entitlement and privilege,” one user commented. “What it apparently doesn’t buy is common sense and decency.”
It also drew sarcastic comments from those critical of the incident.
“Well excuse us!! We needed to be there. In fact it was demanded of us by our Instagram followers! My wife colors pictures of flowers and I collect butterfly carcasses and fly helicopters for a hobby. We had to go ourselves as we could not afford a professional guide. Our budget is only $500,000 a month,” read one tongue-in-cheek remark.
Still others managed to tie it to another high-profile story in Southern California: the college admissions scandal.
“They were probably celebrating bribing their way into USC,” one user wrote. Another invoked the names of Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, who have been charged in the scheme.
Super Bloom causing some issues
Like other parts of California, the Antelope Valley poppy reserve has experienced a super bloom of wildflowers in the past few weeks due to the region’s wet winter.
That super bloom has created problems in some areas, most notably at Lake Elsinore’s Walker Canyon, where city officials had to implement traffic and parking restrictions on weekends in order to control what was described as “Disneyland-size” crowds.
So far, the Antelope Valley poppy fields haven’t been inundated with the same overwhelming throngs of visitors as Lake Elsinore, though it too has seen large crowds.
At one point this past Saturday, the parking lot had to be closed, according to Steve Ptomey of California State Parks.
“All of our parking was full, so we had to close the park to parking temporarily, and as people left, we would let that same number of people in,” he said.
With the poppies now in full bloom, state parks officials issued a reminder to those visiting the fields to stay on official trails only and not go into the flowers to take photos.
“Walking in the poppies creates dirt patches and may result in a ticket,” they warned.
Picking or destroying the wildflowers is also a violation of state law.
Officials also warned visitors to watch for Mojave green rattlesnakes, which are generally active on warm days and in hot evenings.
A full list of rules and regulations, as well as directions and other information, can be found here.