With recent news highlighting the brilliant beauty of poppy blooms, people are flocking to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve to see for themselves.
The Antelope Valley community takes great pride in the Reserve and in the leadership of local artist and activist, Jane Pinheiro, who was able to protect the state flower in this area by establishing the park. Margaret Rhyne, President of the Poppy Reserve Mojave Desert Interpretive Association, recently shared with the Antelope Valley Community Standards Districts (CSDs) team: “I first fell in love with the park due to my interest in native wildflowers. I visited many times and eventually, due to the urging of Dorothy Bolt and Milt Stark, became a volunteer, then a member of the governing board of the nonprofit, and now its president.”
In 1903, the California Poppy officially became the State flower and in the 1970s, the Wildflower Preservation Committee, an ad hoc committee of the Lancaster Woman’s Club, paired up with Jane Pinheiro to raise additional funds in order to create their vision of a “Poppy Park.” Donations poured in from many sources, including local groups and federal and state matching funds, that allowed the Committee to purchase what is now the Reserve. In 1976, the Reserve was officially dedicated.
The community’s efforts did not stop there. Today, Ms. Rhyne indicated that Antelope Valley residents as well as others nearby continue to take an active role in supporting the Reserve through their Poppy Reserve Mojave Desert Interpretive Association membership, and by volunteering. In fact, some volunteers drive between 40 and 50 miles roundtrip multiple times a week to assist at the Reserve!
The story of this Reserve’s creation and the continued support by volunteer organizations truly demonstrates the Antelope Valley’s sense of community and what great feats can be accomplished when the community comes together with a common goal. We hope to harness this spirit of participation and shared vision as we update the Antelope Valley CSDs together.
Special thanks to Margaret Rhyne and the Poppy Reserve Mojave Desert Interpretive Association for providing a wonderful history on Jane Pinheiro and the creation of the Reserve. More information is available below:
Biography of Jane Pinheiro
Excerpts from “A Flower-Watcher’s Guide to the Wildflowers of the Western Mojave Desert” by Milt Stark.