Wildfire to Wildflowers: Powerhouse Fire Burns Portion of Poppy Reserve

A photo showing where the Powerhouse Fire burned within the reserve.
| Photo: Courtesy California State Parks.

The Powerhouse Fire that has burned over 30,000 acres in northern Los Angeles County reached into one of state's best places for viewing the state flower: the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Officials said the blaze burned about 10 acres or less at the state park's northwest corner near the North Poppy Loop Trail.

That might sound bad -- and it actually could be -- but since wildfires can be a natural part of California's land lifecycle, there may be a positive outcome.

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In that area of the park, crews have been working to eradicate invasive species like cereal rye and Russian thistle (a species of tumbleweed) that compete with poppy growth. If the fire burned quickly, not damaging the soil and roots, there's a chance the poppies may bloom as normal, if not better. "This is all theory: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," warned Rick Reisenhofer, the state parks superintendent for the area. But Reisenhofer did note that two previous fires seemed to not have an effect on poppy growth; in fact, one scorched area had a better bloom.

As for the burned section from the Powerhouse Fire, park officials will be monitoring the area's future bloom, which after three weak years, can't come soon enough.

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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