By JANE PETCH
It’s springtime and Scotch broom is in bloom along our roads and fields. Now is the time to make Salt Spring fire-safer by removing this invasive flammable weed as well as its prickly fire-loving cousin gorse.
Dispose of broom, gorse, Himalayan blackberry, holly, spurge laurel, ivy and more at this year’s first Invasive Weed Drop-off on Saturday, May 28 at the Community Gospel Chapel from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 at the Fulford Community Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will see a second drop-off event for these invasive introduced plants that are spreading across the island. Volunteers will be on hand to help unload and to collect donations to cover disposal costs.
It’s no surprise that Salt Spring firefighters are welcome volunteers for the drop-offs. Broom and gorse, covered in volatile oils, are fire threats. A patch of broom can turn into a racing fire, almost impossible to extinguish, especially in hot dry summers. Removing these plants is one way to make the island safer in times of climate change. Native plants benefit as well with the introduced competition gone.
The effort to remove broom on this island has been highly successful. It is a common sight now to see residents removing this invasive plant as it goes into bloom. Last year, over eight tons of invasive plants, mostly broom, were collected. Half of these were chipped and the others were composted or used for energy generation.
Community partners have grown to include local media outlets, the Community Gospel Chapel, Salt Spring Conservancy, Transition Salt Spring, Fulford Hall, Emcon Services, Fisher Road Recycling, DL’s Bins and the many community volunteers who cut invasive plants every spring.
For excellent tips on how to remove broom by cutting plants at the base, not pulling, visit the Broombusters.org website. Remove all rocks and dirt to save the chipper blades. And no giant hogweed, please.
For more information about the drop-offs and the Native Plant Stewardship Group that organizes them, call 250-537-0880, or check out the Transition Salt Spring website.