by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
Bayard Taylor wrote, “And far and wide, in a scarlet tide, the poppy’s bonfire spread.” He could have been describing the famous poppy fields in Lake Elsinore, California. They cover the hillsides so colorfully that they are a popular destination for picnickers and shutterbugs.
They also provide a seasonal economic boom for the town, but officials there decided there were just too many people enjoying the fields of red. So they closed access during the most intense blooming season. It reminds me of the National Park Service’s reaction to the popularity of DC’s famous cherry blossoms every year — they close the parking lots and restrict access to the sidewalks.
Poppies have long symbolized nature’s ability to produce great beauty from tiny seeds, representing for many people the renewal that is central to all life. Remember John McCrae’s famous poem once memorized in schools, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row…”