Poppy Reserve Volunteer Appreciation Event

On June 1, 2019 Poppy Reserve Volunteers were invited to join California State Park Staff at the Antelope Valley Indian Museum for a private tour, awards ceremony and lunch. State Park Interpreter Jean Rhyne recognized individual volunteers for hours dedicated to the Poppy Reserve and other area state parks with updated Quail Pins and awarded the annual "Poppy Wrangler of the Year" award to volunteer Phil D.
Museum Curator, Peggy Ronning led volunteers on a private tour of the Indian Museum. Lunch was provided by PRMDIA. Many thanks to all of the volunteers whose dedication guards precious resources and keeps parks open to the public!

Poppy Reserve 2019 Wildflower Season

and Updates for Saddleback, Tomo-Kahni, Mitchell Caverns and Ripley Desert Woodland

More than 200,000 people visited the Poppy Reserve this past March and April. To give some perspective on this number, it exceeds the population of the City of Lancaster, which according to the latest statistics is 160,000!   Still trying to wrap my mind around those numbers!  To break down the statistic,  approximately 93,000 visited in March and 116,000 in April to tour the Jane Pinheiro Visitor Center, browse the gift shop and walk the trails at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve!  Fortunately, both PRMDIA, State Parks and volunteers were better prepared for this remarkable season due to the 2017 season. Lessons learned during the spring of 2017, when numbers of visitors were also unprecedented,  helped our local state park personnel, led by Superintendent Russ Dingman, make changes to infrastructure, staffing and use of social media that made a significant difference.

The creation of a walk-in trail was perhaps the most important and visible change. This trail created a safe path for visitors who choose to park outside the park. Use of this trail eliminated habitat destruction caused by the use of a “social trail” created by walk-in visitors in 2017.   Fencing along the entrance road prevented visitors from parking on vegetation as happened in 2017.  State park staff began the process of installing  fencing with a low visual impact along trails to create an additional reminder of trail boundaries. PRMDIA is happy that we have been able to donate the material for this project that will more clearly mark park trails. 

Extra staffing for rangers and park aides (in the visitor center, kiosk and for maintenance) was also a welcomed addition for the 2019 flower season.  Many thanks to Superintendent Russ Dingman for leading the charge to make these changes.

Park staff led by Interpreter Jean Rhyne used social media in a proactive way to educate the public concerning the importance of staying on trails. Off trail visitors were not eliminated in 2019 but were significantly reduced in comparison to 2017. A network of “followers” of the Poppy Reserve and PRMDIA Facebook pages need to be thanked for commenting on and sharing the message that wildflower growth is significantly reduced in areas where ground has been compacted. Our dedicated volunteer trail walkers also played a crucial role in helping visitors decrease negative impacts, thank you!

Another statistic that I am sure that staff and volunteers who spent part of the poppy season in the gift shop will not find hard to believe: sales topped $144,000  in April! With so much flying off the shelves, reordering, transporting, restocking and pricing took up enormous amounts of volunteer time. To the gift shop committee and the many state park staff and volunteers who helped them, many, many thanks. 

So what else has been going on in area state parks not related to coping with large crowds at the Poppy Reserve? A cell phone, financed by PRMDIA and created by Interpreter Jean Rhyne, was a new innovation at the Poppy Reserve.  For visitors using the tour, alerts are sent as they pass spots along the trails that are on the tour. They are then able to listen to information about the Reserve. Information concerns flora and fauna as well as historical facts about the Reserve and adjacent areas of the West Antelope Valley. 

Saddleback Butte continues to have an increased public presence due to staffing by park aides in the visitor center on the weekend. Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park featured their first ever Spanish Language tour this past spring. Arthur B. Ripley State Park, just west of the Poppy Reserve, also had a spectacular flower season with many of the park’s Joshua trees blooming along with abundant wildflowers. Ripley is a great place to visit year round as all-season desert greenery is provided by Joshua trees and California Junipers that can be enjoyed with plentiful doses of desert peace and quiet. Finally, Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, home of Mitchell Caverns now has a virtual 3D tour, supported by PRMDIA.  To experience this tour, click here: Mitchell Caverns. The new cell phone tour at the Poppy Reserve can also be experienced from your computer:Poppy Reserve Cell Phone Tour. Once on the site, select map (bottom left). Move through the map and click on the marked sites. Be sure to scroll down undert he photos to read the information. 

Hope you have enjoyed the May rains and have the opportunity to walk the now peaceful trails at the Poppy Reserve and other area parks to see what may still be blooming!

Poppy Reserve Volunteer Training 2019 - Saturday, February 2

12 new volunteers braved the wind and rain to attend day 1 of this year's training. Congratulations to all! Look forward to seeing you next week to meet returning volunteers and enjoy a potluck lunch!
7th Annual First Day Hike

More than 90 hikers joined us for the 7th annual First Day Hike at Saddleback Butte State Park. Despite record cold temperatures, all three hikes were very well attended! Thank you to all participants and hike leaders! Photos below: Group that made it to the peak of Saddleback Butte (9 am hike), 10 am hike to Little Butte, and 11 am family hike.
Public Lands Day at Saddleback Butte State Park

Thank you to everyone volunteered on October 6 to celebrate National Public Lands Day 2018 with a  habitat cleanup!

More than 20 volunteers braved the wind advisory and picked up 16 huge bags of trash, leaving our park much more beautiful and natural!

A California Grizzly found a $100 bill!  Full disclosure: it was movie prop money from all the filming they do in the area!

Volunteer Elaine won the prize for most trash collected by one person!

All participants were rewarded with a local State Park day use pass, a Litter Getter magnet, and a Saddleback Butte patch or water bottle... and knowing they made a big impact on our park.

April 2018 Poker Ride at Saddleback
Thank you to all of the guests, volunteers and state park staff who participated in this year's "Poker Ride" on Saturday, April 28 at Saddleback Butte State Park. Ranger Kevin was this year's chef!