Both longtime and new Broombusters participants take down the last bit of Scotch broom from a section of the Alberni Highway between the local SPCA and the Mid Islan Co-op on Friday, May 11. — Adam Kveton Photo

Group sees broom busting success along Alberni Highway

More and more broom disappearing in Parksville, Qualicum Beach

The invasive plant Scotch broom is having a harder and harder time taking root in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, with the local Broombusters group seeing more success.

A group of Broombusters took out the last patch of the plant on a stretch of the Alberni Highway between the Mid-Island Co-op and the SPCA on Friday, May 11 — a section that had taken about 10 years to go from two-metre tall bushes of the stuff to clear, said Broombusters founder Joanne Sales.

“It feels really good,” Sales said of the last few minutes of work. “This is a sign that the community has really taken ownership of the Alberni (Highway) stretch.”

She added that progress is also being made in the Parksville and Qualicum Beach areas.

“(People) now believe you can do it (remove the plant) and know how to do it,” she said.

That’s thanks in no small part to the Broombusters’ efforts, both in cutting broom and educating the community.

Broom is known to take over huge areas in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, and is particularly difficult to get rid of as each plant can produce thousands of seeds that are viable for many years, according to the Broombusters’ website, www.broombusters.org. Pulling out the plants and disturbing the soil also helps the seeds to sprout.

Broom can inhibit forest regrowth, and is highly flammable. The key to getting rid of the plant is to cut the plant at ground level without disturbing the soil, and while the plant is in bloom, usually in mid-April.

The bloom has been late this year, so the Broombusters are hoping to get more people out now to help with the cutting.

But big group cuts like the one on May 11 are geared more toward educating and getting community members to meet each other. Keeping the plant out of communities requires smaller groups of people to take the task up themselves, said Sales.

“The success of controlling this invasive plant depends on people taking ownership of their own neighbourhood and town,” she said.

For more info on how to do that, go to www.broombusters.org.

There is also a broom-busting event taking place Friday, May 18, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the Parksville interchange (exit 46 on Highway 19). Broombusters meet at the weigh station, and tools will be provided.

Send story tips to: adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

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