David Burns was among the volunteers spending Saturday morning atop Sugarloaf Mountain clearing out Scotch broom.

Spring cleaning busts Scotch broom

With Invasive Plant Awareness Month about two weeks away, city staff and volunteers launched a pre-emptive strike on Sugarloaf Mountain.

With the City of Nanaimo’s Invasive Plant Awareness Month about two weeks away, city staff and volunteers launched a pre-emptive strike.

A group, including Ian Thorpe, councillor and parks and rec commission chairman; city staff and community volunteer groups, gathered Saturday at Sugarloaf Mountain to remove Scotch broom.

“It’s really about getting rid of a lot of broom that is in an old Garry oak meadow and it’s really about working towards restoring the park and bringing it back to its natural condition,” said Rob Lawrance, city environmental planner.

Lynn Kropinak, with Broombusters, an organization dedicated to stopping the spread of Scotch broom, said her group was notified by a resident about the invasive plant in the area.

Lawrance said Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed are other invasive species the city is targeting this year.

“The reason is because of the impact they can have to our city infrastructure, but also to people’s homes and also the fact that hogweed is known as a toxic plant which can actually cause severe burning to anyone who has the sap on [their] skin,” said Lawrance.

Thorpe said it’s difficult to quantify how many invasive plants are removed by volunteer groups, but their work is needed.

“As much as we have a great parks staff, we just can’t keep up with it, so without these volunteer community groups, the invasive species would really be dominating in some of our park areas, so I can’t tell you how many tonnes they account for each year, but I do know their work is really invaluable,” said Thorpe.

For more information on Invasive Plant Awareness Month, please see the parks, recreation and environment section at www.nanaimo.ca.