Broom Busters back in action against local weed

Qualicum Beach Broom Busters take their loppers out for a spin

Volunteer Lila Volkas got a little more than she bargained for while Broom busting. The California visitor was thrilled by the deer skull she pulled out of the broom.

Volunteer Lila Volkas got a little more than she bargained for while Broom busting. The California visitor was thrilled by the deer skull she pulled out of the broom.

The invasion of the yellow-headed aliens started a long time ago and the fight-back by humans has only recently begun, but broom-buster Joanne Sales and her team are slowly winning the war.

The Broom Busters of Qualicum Beach continued the fight Saturday as they loaded their loppers and took to the highway to seek out and destroy the invasive species, in hopes of at least stemming the tide.

Sales, who founded Broom Busters in 2006 with a few ardent volunteers, said her team has grown over the years, with others not affiliated taking up the broom-busting torch.

“We have wonderful co-operation from the Ministry of Transportation and the Town of Qualicum Beach,” Sales said. “There’s also a group of retired men who love to go out and cut broom. They call themselves the Broom of Doom.”

The key to the successful eradication of broom in Qualicum Beach, Sales said, is for people to adopt a portion of roadway and take responsibility for keeping it clear of the weed.

“That’s the only way it can work is for people to adopt a part of a road and say OK, broom won’t grow here,” she said.

Although the battle against broom is going fairly well in Qualicum Beach, the message about the alien species is starting to take root in other communities as well, she added.

“There’s a whole new group started up in Courtenay,” Sales said. “As well, Parksville is turning around. It looked hopeless, but now we are starting to hear from volunteers there, too.”

Sales said people who would like to take part in community broom cutting sessions should look at the website, broombusters.org to find out where the next cut will be held.

“Coming to community cuts is important because we can show how to do it right,” she said.

“You have to cut it right down to the ground. If not, it grows back.”

Cutting broom while it’s in bloom is also important, she added, because when its trademark yellow flowers are in full bloom, the vast majority of the plant’s energy is devoted to the flowers, so if it is lopped off at ground level, it’s far more likely to die, rather than regrow.