Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

No Invasive Plant Drop-off events planned for 2024

SUBMITTED BY JANE PETCH

for the Native Plant Stewardship Group

The Native Plant Stewardship Group (NPSG) would like to thank the generous islanders and agencies that have supported and embraced the Invasive Plant Drop-Off events since 2010. 

Last year, 2023, was the most successful ever with over 172 loads delivered in vehicles ranging from Smart cars to moving vans. At least 10 tons of invasive plants were collected over the three drop-offs. 

This year the NPSG will no longer be conducting these drop-offs. We are looking at other options to dispose of broom, gorse, spurge laurel, blackberry, holly, ivy and other non-native invasive weeds. 

The sheer amount of invasive plants, the lack of a home base, the difficulty in finding enough chippers for specific dates and the cost of chipping itself, have become more challenging over the past 14 years. As the piles have become higher, so has the age of the small core of women organizing these events, with most now in their 60s and 70s.  

The ideal solution for invasive weed disposal would be a permanent location where broom and other invasives could be dropped off more frequently, where the plants could be chipped at the operators’ convenience, and where the chips with no seeds could be available to farmers.

We have contacted a number of agencies in the community, with the goal of developing a better system to dispose of invasive plants. In the meantime, there are a number of ways to dispose of these noxious weeds.

Salt Spring Garbage accepts invasive plants at the cost of $.35 per kilogram. These plants are not accepted as part of the green waste pile but rather go to the landfill.

There are local chippers on the island that will come to neighbourhood locations or homes and will chip invasive plants that have been cut and piled. Some pods have organized neighbourhood cuts and a group chipping. 

If you have only a few plants, you can scatter them under trees in the shade or pile them under a tarp to break down and feed the soil. You can solarize them in a light-blocking black plastic bag and they can also be buried. Take great care burning any broom or gorse because they are covered with volatile oils and are extremely flammable. Goats eat ivy and green broom, which is a natural dewormer. 

The NPSG, a working group of Transition Salt Spring, began as the Salt Spring Island Conservancy’s Broom Committee in 2010 to address the rapid spread of broom on the island.

For more information on chippers, and how to remove and dispose of non-native invasive plants, please see the Transition Salt Spring website. 

We would like to thank the firefighters who have provided the labour at the drop-offs in the last number of years. And thanks to all of you who continue to address the challenge posed by invasive plants as climate change proceeds and summer drought deepens. Broom’s extreme flammability and negative impact on native plants is only one example of how useful it is to remove the invasives. 

Thanks also to the Community Gospel Chapel and Fulford Hall, which so generously offered us their land at no cost for our chipping events.  

We look forward to continuing to promote the removal of broom and gorse and other non-native invasive weeds, and to provide information and support to those who wish to remove invasive plants in their area. We will continue to promote the development of a more permanent disposal system. 

As we move from one system to the next, the stewardship group looks forward to partnering with the next evolution in our combined community effort to keep Salt Spring more fire-safe and ecologically diverse. 

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