They continue to battle marauding invaders.
Members of the Broombusters Invasive Plant Society have been trying to eradicate the spread of Scotch broom in Parksville Qualicum Beach and around the Island since 2006.
According to society founder and executive director Joanne Sales, in 2021, more than 600 volunteers came out to cut broom for over 7,000 hours in the region.
“Why, it’s because we care about the Island,” said Sales, who indicated that the proliferation of Scotch broom is getting really bad.
“Scotch broom was recently designated as the worst invasive plant by an assessment report of the Invasive Species Council of BC,” said Sales. “Because Scotch broom is the invasive species causing the greatest harm to species at risk in B.C.”
Broom spreads rapidly as a single plant can produce more than 18,000 seeds viable for 20 to 40 or more years.
“It’s called the scourge of pasture lands because once it gets into pastures it’s almost impossible to get rid of,” said Sales. “Brooms grows huge quickly, strangles native species and leads to a dramatic loss of diversity.”
The dense thickets prevents forest regrowth and is also considered to be a fire hazard.
“It will increase a wildfire’s fuel load, escalate the fire’s intensity and compromise fire situations,” said Sales. “It makes fire more difficult to fight. It’s like pouring kerosene onto the fire.”
In a recent presentation to the Regional District of Nanaimo board, she highlighted the many areas where the brooms are spreading and also potential areas where these plants will likely to grow in the years ahead.
“Broombusters have taken on an impossible task,” said Sales. “We’re succeeding in the towns. But the problems created by broom spreading on private land, cleared forest lands and under powerlines are beyond the work of volunteers. We need all levels of government to help.”
Sales wants the RDN to require private owners, electric and forest companies to be held responsible for keeping their properties clear of Scotch broom.
City of Nanaimo director Leonard Krog suggested it’s time the RDN take an aggressive approach to lobby the provincial government to take action and offer funding, though no motion was made.