Borrego Sun - Since 1949

No Superbloom...

We'll have to wait another year

 

Last updated 2/24/2023 at 11:16am

Based on vegetation systemics and yearly recorded data, Borrego Anza Desert State Park experts are predicting a "Regular Bloom," not another 2019 Super Bloom.

According to Dan McCamish, California State Park Senior Environmental Scientist, "Everything points to a bloom in regional patches in specific areas of the park, rather than flowers covering every patch of dirt.

"Super Blooms require a complex formula of rain, hot and cool periods, but mainly they require 10 inches of rain. At this time, we only have only five recorded inches and the outlook for heavy rainfall in February is bleak," he said.

"I have learned to say never, however; and if we have another two to three inches of rain, it can change the equation," he added.

At a meeting called by the Anza-Borrego Foundation and the Borrego Village Association, community members discussed planning for the impacts of a large tourism season, generated by expectations of another Super Bloom.

According to most speakers, media hype of another Super Bloom has been unrelenting, and as a result, the Anza-Borrego State Park is already seeing an increase in visitors and campers. One indication, according to Park personnel, is an unusual increase of visitors at the visitor's center, and Palm Canyon picnic and camping sites, during the week and weekends.

"I think we should prepare for an overflow of visitors and tourists regardless, and at the same time, dampen down expectations of a Super Bloom. That's not to say there are not some lovely isolated areas of wildflowers, and it will be our job, both the park personnel and the Borrego Community, to direct visitors to those sites," recommended a Park spokesperson.

"One important point to get to the public is that this year some of the better viewing areas may be difficult to access and will require maps and four-wheel vehicles."

Everyone agreed on the importance of consistent messaging to the public to overcome the media hypes of a Super Bloom.

"While damping down expectations of wild flowers blooming on every piece of ground, it's still important to point out the beauty and abundance of sights in the Park. Loads of people not used to the fragility of the desert, as well as dangers, need to be reminded of the Park's wildflower and animal protocols, like not leaving roads and trails to walk or drive over plants and other fragile areas," McCamish said. "Large crowds of tourists can do damage to the flower fields and future blooming by not following the rules."

Park officials also said they would close Palm Canyon when it reaches capacity, and will be on call to help as needed in the town.

After the Park officials shared their plans and expectations, the questions and comments turned to impacts and opportunities for businesses in the village.

"For example, in lowering expectations of rampant wildflowers, Borrego Springs can take the opportunity to promote other experiences in the village from the sculptures, shops, and restaurants," suggested Jim Dion, Executive Director of the Borrego Village Association.

The discussion also centered on addressing the practical needs of a larger than usual number of visitors in the village, which go beyond communicating where they may find areas of flowers or park protocols and responses.

Practical considerations for an avalanche of visitors include meeting needs for sanitation with imported temporary bath rooms. Borrego Springs has only four public bathrooms, which the community found were inadequate during the 2019 surprise explosion of flowers and visitors. Estimating the costs, as well as where to place in the village, and how many to rent, as well as the cost of daily cleaning, was explored at the meeting. Suggestions were made for raising the cash to cover the costs.

Since the number of tourists enticed by wildflower reports cannot be absolutely predicted, the Park has a standby plan for portable bathrooms and suggested the same for the town.

Other village issues were: handing out or selling drinking water, and available directional and fliers in town to guide people to flowering areas. The park has created a regularly updated map on its website and organizations like ABF and the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) are posting updates on websites, and will be printing fliers directing visitors to all the essentials.

Dion recommended that the fliers be posted at key sites, and handed out to local businesses, saying, "Give me the fliers, and I will go door-to-door handing them out."

Controlling large crowds of visitors also requires preparation by the Sheriff's department and Borrego Springs Fire Department emergency responders. Chief John Hardcastle of the Borrego Springs Fire Protection District, who attended the meeting, reported the department was prepared to do what was necessary.

All organizations agreed on staying on message. "The message: This year it is unlikely Borrego will experience a Super Bloom. However, the Regular Bloom is an impressive display of wild flowers found in patches here and there in specific regions. Remember while in the Park and Borrego Springs to take advantage of the other spectacular sites and experiences."

One questioner asked, "Where was the Chamber leadership?" Questioning why they weren't leading in assisting in organizing and preparing local businesses members for handling exceptionally large crowds, like the one that impacted businesses in 2017 and 2019.

For information from the Anza-Borrego Desert Park, visit the Park's wildflower page for the most recent updates: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=28694.

Check out the Park's wildflower map: http://parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638. This map will get updated weekly. If there is a wet and cool spring, there might be more flowers. Currently, there are a few flowers here and there if you look for them.

For weekly updates, call the Park's Wildflower Hotline at 760-767-4684.

Printed maps are available at ABDNHA, 652 Palm Canyon Road, Borrego Springs. Check out for full size maps of current wildflower viewing locations.

At the site you can Click on a map below for a full-size PDF to print of locations on the Northern, and Southern areas of the Park where flowers are to be found. Plus, there are some fantastic photos of the types of wildflowers to view. Or visit http://www.borregoblooms.org, which shows flower sites around the Borrego Valley. All of these locations are easily viewed from paved roadways.

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