Community

Time to cut broom in bloom

The Broombusters are out in force and looking for volunteers for cuts like the recent one above on Newcastle Island. From left: Ladislav Wagner, Gerry Vanderwolf, Judy Borserio, Penny Pepper, Pat Galbraith, Gord Almond and Joanne Sales. - Photo submitted by Joanne Sales
The Broombusters are out in force and looking for volunteers for cuts like the recent one above on Newcastle Island. From left: Ladislav Wagner, Gerry Vanderwolf, Judy Borserio, Penny Pepper, Pat Galbraith, Gord Almond and Joanne Sales.
— image credit: Photo submitted by Joanne Sales

The broom is in bloom.

“Our loppers are all sharpened, and we’re ready to go,” said Broombusters society president Joanne Sales announcing the beginning of the Scotch broom cutting season.

So far this year the volunteer group has focused on cutting gorse in Parksville, a similar invasive weed which blooms earlier, but the bright yellow broom is now in full bloom along local roads.

The Mediterranean plant was introduced to North America for aesthetic reasons in Sooke in the 1850s and has since spread to much of the province and is particularly dense in open areas on the east side of Vancouver Island.

People might enjoy the flowers, but broom is called “the scourge of pastureland” because it takes over, damages farms, prevents forest re-growth, is a fire hazard and is toxic to some animals.

The provincial government currently designates broom as a “nuisance weed,” but various groups, including local municipalities have been asking the government to upgrade it to “noxious weed.”

A small group of about a dozen, half from the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, cut broom on Newcastle Island last weekend, and this week they were on Grafton Avenue near the Errington Store.

On April 25 they were on the Alberni Highway between Errington Road and Coombs.

“We have made huge progress working on clearing the Alberni Highway for years now,” Sales said adding that they need a big push to conquer it.

She noted that while they had trouble getting volunteers in Parksville in the past, that has been getting better and she is more optimistic than ever.

The society encourages anyone to stop by and join them working in small groups along the highway, marked by Broombuster signs.

Sales said they are looking for input on the times and places that work best for the most people, so e-mail your suggestions.

“We arrange cuts based on who can come, you are the key,” she said of the public.

People can also cut on their own, but they should contact Sales first to co-ordinate locations, permission, broom pick-up and signing waivers.

The society can provide the cutting tools but you should bring your own gloves, water, sturdy shoes and weather appropriate clothing, including a hat and safety vest if you have one. Bring your own loppers if you have them.

Broombusters started in Errington in 2006 and now has volunteers from Courtenay to Nanaimo.

Contact Sales at 250-752-4816, info@broombuters.org or check www.broombusters.org.

 

UPDATE:

Upcoming Broom cuttings:

• Friday, May 1: 9:30-11:30 Qualicum Beach. 
Corner of Bennett Rd. & Rupert Rd. Near the airport.

• Saturday, May 2: 12:45-3. Qualicum Beach. Memorial Rd at power lines.
The power lines cross Memorial about half way into town from the Interchange Hwy 19. There are parking lots on either side of Memorial at that location. We want to create a fire block under the power lines, by making huge gaps.

• Sunday, May 3. The River Never Sleeps Festival In Fanny Bay
Family & Community Day At Rosewall Creek Hatchery
Broombusters goes every year!

Errington/ Coombs/ Parksville Folks:  If you can’t join us, and you want to cut in your area, you can cut along Alberni Hwy, at any safe location.  Make piles of the broom at least 6 feet away from the shoulder.

•  May 8 – 10. A PARKSVILLE weekend!

 

 

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