In spring 2019, a rare super bloom of poppies created a frenzy. More than 800,000 visitors, photographers and nature lovers converged on Walker Canyon in southern California to view the vibrant hues of orange and yellow blanketing the vast hillsides. Thrilled by so many visitors enjoying and marveling at the site, the landowner wanted to protect his 271-acre property for future tourists and wildlife within Walker Canyon. So, he came to The Conservation Fund for help.  

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Walker Canyon. Photo by Ivan LaBianca


We worked quickly to purchase the property and worked with Riverside County to adhere to the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). Established in 2003, it’s one of the largest MSHCP in the country and helps balance critical infrastructure and development projects with the conservation of habitat. Working alongside our partners Ecosystem Investment Partners and the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, we focused on maintaining the environmental value of the poppy fields, ensuring future explosions of poppy blooms for the public, while also protecting essential habitat for the federally endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat and other rare species. 

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Stephens’ kangaroo rat. Photo by USFWS

“Working with The Conservation Fund, Ecosystem Investment Partners is pleased to be contributing to the goals of the Riverside County MSHCP, which include adding 153,000 acres to the public trust and protecting 146 different species. By providing acquisition funds, conducting biological surveys and working to identify parcels that meet the goals of the Regional Conservation Authority, our investments are contributing to the permanent protection of essential corridors and habitat."

- Glen Williams, Western Region Projects Director, Ecosystem Investment Partners

Why it matters

Urban regions often grapple with how to accommodate development while preserving their natural assets. Conservation and economic growth aren’t mutually exclusive yet striking the right balance between the two requires a thoughtful approach. Protection of the poppy field at Walker Canyon will successfully demonstrate the necessary role conservation plays in enabling sustainable development and economic growth.