Park officials in California’s Antelope Valley, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, said Tuesday that in recent days someone landed a helicopter in a field of poppies – part of the massive “super bloom” unfolding across the state – and then began a hike.
“We never thought it would be explicitly necessary to state that it is illegal to land a helicopter in the middle of the fields and begin hiking off trail,” the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve said in a Facebook post along with the hashtag #Don’tDoomTheBloom, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We were wrong.”
When a law-enforcement official began to approach the pair, they ran back to the helicopter and fled.
Park officials also included a photo of the helicopter.
The Facebook post has since been deleted – but not before it had been reported by the Times and other local news outlets.
“Money buys arrogance and sense of entitlement and privilege,” one person wrote in response to the post, as angry comments flooded in, according to KTLA. “What it apparently doesn’t buy is common sense and decency.”
The super bloom – a phenomenon where wildflowers have bloomed at higher-than-normal rates after unusually heavy rains and favorable temperatures in Southern California – has been drawing throngs of visitors to parkland outside of Los Angeles for weeks.
Golden poppies, which are the state’s official flower and have turned arid fields into brilliant orange carpets of flowers, have been a particularly popular draw.
Officials recently had to close access to poppy fields in Lake Elsinore, California, an hour southeast of Los Angeles, after they were thronged with “Disneyland-sized crowds.”
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” the city’s mayor wrote in a post titled “POPPY PROBLEMS.” “We’re shorthanded. … One of our employees was hit and run by a driver. A rattlesnake bit a visitor. Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic.”
Park officials in Antelope Valley did not respond to a request for comment. They note on their website that the poppies open in the morning and curl up in the afternoon.
“Please remember, visitors must stay on OFFICIAL TRAILS only,” they write. “Photos in the flowers are not allowed in the park. Walking in the poppies creates dirt patches and may result in a ticket. DO NOT walk where others have already damaged the habitat; it will compound the damage and leave a scar for years to come.”
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The Washington Post’s Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.