Effort needed to rid us of broom scourge

So let’s talk broom.

Scotch broom to be precise.

That yellow scourge that visitors to the province see lining the roadsides and overtaking clearings everywhere and exclaim that it’s so pretty.

Locals know differently.

Broom is an invader that we’ve so far failed to repel, and it creeps further and further into untouched areas every year.

The Invasive Species Council of British Columbia tells us that southern Vancouver Island is the epicentre of this outbreak.

So what’s the big deal?

This plant is not natural to this area, but it sure thrives here.

That’s a problem for native species, which tend to be pushed out by its onslaught of exploding seed pods. Each mature plant can have as many as 3,500 pods, each containing five to 12 seeds. What chance do camas and others have against such a prolific spreader?

Not much, as it turns out. Broom also increases the risk of wildfire, providing fuel for the flames.

And the stuff is horribly stubborn and hardy in our Island climate, which seems to be perfect for it to thrive.

It doesn’t just take one cutting to kill this miscreant. You have to go back year after year. And you have to get it before the seeds mature enough to be viable. So, basically, right now is when we should be out in force tackling this problem.

And while some groups and individuals have taken on the task and done good work, it’s not nearly enough. That’s obvious just to the naked eye on a quick trip around the Valley.

We’d like to see some regulations requiring anyone who owns cleared sections of land

– vacant building lots and the like – to be responsible for making sure broom on them is cut down or removed.

By far the worst offenders are BC Hydro and the province itself.

Our power utility owns a veritable network of broom corridors, where the plant has been allowed to run unchecked deep into otherwise untouched lands. The broom, of course, fails to stay just in the Hydro rights-of-way.

Our highway shoulders are likewise a perfect corridor for the stuff to go forth and multiply. If these two entities, our province and Hydro made a concerted effort to curb the spread of broom it would be much easier to get a handle on it.

There is no quick fix. At this point the contagion has spread so widely that it will, realistically, be years before we can really make inroads.

But the more people to lend a hand and try, both in the physical cutting and in putting pressure on the broom enablers to do their part, the sooner progress will be made.

Happy cutting.