Saturday, December 10, 2022
December 10, 2022

Reflections on 10 years at the Long Harbour Road broom removal site

BY JANE PETCH

NATIVE PLANT STEWARDSHIP GROUP

I am inching across the steep hillside, an axe in my hand, my quarry half hidden behind an ocean spray bush. Definitely I need cleats. Cutting broom here on this broom removal site seemed much less precipitous 10 years ago.
Members of my Native Plant Stewardship Group are scattered along this Long Harbour hillside, searching for escapee Scotch broom plants and newly sprouted seedlings. The escapees, it turns out, are either camouflaged, or were badly cut in previous years, just high enough for the photosynthetic stem to sprout again.
We will pound in a few stake markers to find out whether cutting in the fall is as effective as cutting in the spring when the broom is in bloom.
This work over 10 years has paid off. Native plants are returning to this cleared hillside: baldhip roses, monkey flower, blue-eyed Mary, yarrow, miners lettuce, willow and ocean spray. We see Oregon grape, with its bright yellow blossoms that provide early nectar and pollen for bees, and later berries for birds, spreading down the hillside.
Qualicum Beach, which advertises that it is almost broom-free, confirms what our demo site on Long Harbour Road shows us. It is possible to get rid of broom, and take back our roadsides and properties. Many Salt Springers at our Invasive Weed Drop-offs tell us similar stories.
Today, it takes us an hour and a half to clear the slope. In 2012, after MainRoad gave us permission to set up the broom removal demonstration site, it took two days of hard work, and multiple truckloads to clear an area a quarter of the size we have monitored today.
This morning our take-away is five large garbage bags of cut broom destined for the Blackburn Road transfer station, which now takes these invasives; that and the great satisfaction of seeing a more fire-safe broom-free hillside with so many native plants now recovering and thriving.

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