In 2010 Kate Kramer, the biologist for the National Forest Service, Dave Stith an amateur botanist and Doug Yagaloff, a local business owner put out a call to Idyllwild for people to come together in support of the lilium parryi, the Lemon Lily. A group of 15 dedicated locals developed the idea of a festival to “educate, celebrate and restore the Lemon Lily and to promote Idyllwild as a tourist destination.
Now in its fifth year the festival has grown and matured. Last year we set an attendance record at the Idyllwild Nature Center, one of two venues for the festival. A successful bluegrass series had its second year at the in town portion of the festival.
Pioneer Town at the Nature Center has been an educational success providing experiences for children to learn the culture that existed when the Lily was prominent in the area. They were able to pan for gold, ride ponies, make rag dolls, and many other experiences. Period music and historical re-enactments completed the event.
In terms of restoration, we have had several work parties involving approximately 100 people to remove invasive non-native plants from the stream beds. We are expanding this process and at the same time working to educate residents in landscaping so that the environment can remain healthy and stable. We are identifying areas to be planted with over 100 plants this fall. We are raising lilies from seed, bulb and division of established plants. For the first time this year we will be able to sell a limited amount of lilies at our plant sale. We will also be “adopting” out plants which will be cared for at the Nature Center and eventually planted back into their original habitat.
The support we have received from the Idyllwild Community Fund has allowed us initially to produce activity books to help educate children about the lily. Further funding has benefited the education portion of the Festival. This along with other grants will help us reestablish the Lemon Lily to its original habitat.