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Vancouver Island Broombusters applaud UBCM resolution to halt broom invasion

Invasive species out-competes native plants and poses fire risk
Eight girls from 2nd Parksville Girl Guides volunteered to cut invasive Scotch broom on the Parksville-Coombs Rail Trail with the Broombusters on Friday, May 12. (Joanne Sales photo)

Vancouver Island broom busters are hoping reinforcements are on the way in their battle against the Island’s most high-profile invasive species.

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has passed a resolution calling on the B.C. government to take strong steps to stop the spread of Scotch Broom.

Resolution NR51, ‘Control of Scotch Broom’ passed during the UBCM conference on Sept. 22 and was sponsored by the Town of Qualicum Beach, where Broombusters Invasive Plant Society started in 2006, according to a news release by Broombusters.

Elected officials across B.C. supported the resolution upon learning that Scotch Broom has been recognized as the invasive species doing the greatest harm to species at risk — the “top offender of biodiversity in B.C.”

Broom spreads so quickly and densely that native species and young forest seedlings cannot compete. But the officials’ greatest concern relates to climate change and wildfires.

“Scotch broom’s high flammability and its ability to spread quickly and form dense stands increases the fuel load, impeding fire management efforts, making fires more difficult to fight,” wrote Terry Peters, recently retired fire chief of Powell River.

READ MORE: Parksville Girl Guides help bust broom in bloom

From three seeds brought to Sooke in 1850, Scotch broom has spread across Vancouver Island. It is now spreading aggressively on the Mainland as well.

“I was speaking with delegates from a community that tried to eradicate broom — but it didn’t work,” said Qualicum Beach Coun. Anne Skipsey.

“What we have learned is that the soil should not be disturbed. Instead, we ‘Cut Broom in Bloom.’”

Education will be an important next step.

“Solving this problem will require creativity, co-operation, commitment, and communication among all parties. But there are effective strategies that work. Resolution NR51 is a start,” said Joanne Sales, founder of Broombusters.

Hundreds of Broombusters volunteers are overjoyed at the passing of the resolution. The volunteers have been successfully eradicating broom from municipalities and regional districts for 17 years.

“Volunteers can’t do it all, nor should they have to,” said Skipsey.

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About the Author: Parksville Qualicum Beach News Staff

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