SUPERBLOOM

Little flowers cover the hillsides right now on the way to Soda Lake on the Carrizo Plain (photos by Camas Frank)

Peak viewing for Bloom 2019 this April

SANTA MARGARITA — According to the Federal Bureau of Land Management the second week of April will mark the prime viewing period for “Superbloom 2019.”

Their Central California District public affairs officer Serena Baker notes the agency is giving folks updates in “real time” on social media with the hashtag #trackthebloom, as it started on the valley floor and made its way in yellow and blue waves up the mountainsides.

Typing the tracker into a Twitter search last week called attention to some bad behavior rather than pretty flowers, as the first result was the account of a pair of tourists landing their private helicopter in the middle of a field in the Mojave bloom in Southern California.

Other recent accounts of poorly thought out behavior on the rural access roads surrounding Carrizo Plain National Monument include vehicles miring themselves in clay-mud or setting out across the protected vernal pools where endangered species otherwise find refuge.

Baker emphasized a basic respect for others and the land should one venture out.

“Please respect all posted signs and remember that there are pockets of private property within and around the monument,” she said, adding that “No Trespassing” laws apply.  “One of the draws of the monument is that it’s remote but that remoteness also means there is no potable water and no gas service.”

Restroom facilities are available at the visitor center near Soda Lake but are scarce in surrounding territory.

It’s also a “#leavenotrace” zone. While there’s an increased BLM staff presence from the Bakersfield office, thousands of visitors are expected and it would be appreciated if they remember to bring along enough food and water for their entire party, as well as packing out the trash that came with.

“Please make sure that those around you are able to enjoy the same view and experience that you came for,” she said.

The Carrizo Plain has two major access points with the connection to Santa Margarita and Creston off Soda Lake Road and State Route 58 on the northern side of the plain. The other major access is from the south off of State Route 33/166 but is a further drive on unimproved roadway.

Caltrans District 5 spokesman Colin Jones noted that State Route 58 is not meant for high-volume, or for that matter high-speed, traffic.  Travelers from the north are advised to fill up on fuel in Atascadero or Santa Margarita and allow for unexpected delays on the winding rural roads.

As of the first week in April, stretches of SR 58 were being resurfaced with new pavement over 23 miles in a $7 million effort. Currently, orange cones are in place of white lines.  Jones reminds motorists to only pull over or stop at approved turnouts and to use caution in work zones.

The BLM’s on-site manager for Carrizo Plain, Johna Hurl added that, for the most part, recent visitors have been quite pleasant, “It’s really pretty out and most folks have been pretty well behaved. We just ask people to respect the flowers they came to see.”

For those who can’t make the trip over the next two weeks, Hurl will continue to #trackthebloom for them through pictures on the BLM Twitter account and on Facebook.

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Little flowers cover the hillsides right now on the way to Soda Lake on the Carrizo Plain (photos by Camas Frank)


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