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Local Public Safety

RivCo Supervisor Seeks To Prevent Repeat of `Super Bloom' Chaos in Lake Elsinore

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Screenshot from KTLA 5 Los Angeles
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RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin
Jeffries vowed Tuesday to hammer out a plan of action with state and local
agencies to prevent another ``Super Bloom'' stampede in and around Lake
Elsinore this weekend.
   ``The blooming poppies may be fun to look at, but the traffic problems
they've created are unmatched in the county,'' said Jeffries, a longtime
Lake Elsinore resident. ``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 said the California Highway Patrol and county sheriff's
deputies 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 the blooms in the Cleveland National Forest
attracted the throngs on the 74.
   ``These caused some really serious traffic issues,'' the chairman
said. ``There weren't enough resources. It was pretty severe.''
   Jeffries intends to meet with public safety heads from the county, the
CHP and the Emergency Management Department. He also is trying to set up a
meeting with officials from the governor's Office of Emergency Services to
procure additional ``state law enforcement assistance.''
   ``The traffic plan for the poppies is still being worked out,''
sheriff's Deputy Robyn Flores told City News Service. ``We will have resources
there (for the weekend).''
   A Riverside CHP Office spokesman, Officer Dan Olivas, told CNS that
his superiors were coordinating with county officials to establish a strategy
for stopping traffic chaos on I-15.
   Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos said Monday that public safety
personnel re-opened the main trail into Walker Canyon, just to the east of I-
15, because there was no way to close ``an entire mountain'' to keep sightseers
away.
   At one point Sunday, the CHP estimated 500 vehicles had been parked on
the shoulder of I-15 at Lake Street, where occupants headed off into the
canyon to view the carpets of yellow poppies blanketing hillsides.
   Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, a longtime Lake Elsinore resident and
former mayor of the city, was aghast Sunday at the way travel arteries had been
turned into virtual parking lots because of the huge influx of motorists, all
heading to the canyon.
   She tweeted that she hoped more people would opt to see the poppies in
Anza-Borrego in San Diego County this coming weekend.
   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.
   A shuttle service was established at the Lake Elsinore Outlets to
ferry visitors to the poppy fields, but that was canceled Sunday when traffic
conditions became unbearable.
 

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