Sunday, June 23, 2024
June 23, 2024

Editorial: Broom busters salute

When it comes to doing their part for ecological causes, Salt Spring Islanders will often go above and beyond.

Take their enthusiasm for Scotch broom removal. While broom has long been understood to be both a fire hazard and a bully when it comes to taking terrain from the island’s native plants, it wasn’t until the Native Plant Stewardship Group (NPSG) spearheaded annual spring drop-off events that people had a deadline to work towards and a place to bring unwanted broom plants growing on their property.

For many years the NPSG — originally a Salt Spring Island Conservancy entity and now part of Transition Salt Spring — has encouraged islanders to “bust broom” by putting out “Cut Broom in Bloom” signs each spring and educating people about how to deal with broom and other invasive species found on the island. Since 2010, drop-off days for invasive species have been organized by the NPSG, with people bringing the results of their noxious plant culling efforts to specific sites, where the plants were taken to off-island disposal depots, given to hungry goats or, more recently, chipped on site.

Popularity of the drop-off events gradually grew, to the point that an estimated 10 tons were collected from 172 vehicles in three events last year. While the days seemed to unfold smoothly to the casual observer, the potential for things to not go as planned was always a possibility, and the sheer physical nature of the task — even with much appreciated help from local firefighters and chipping company personnel — has become too much for the NPSG volunteers.

It would be a shame to lose the momentum and impact provided by drop-off events, so hopefully another organization will step up to fill the void.

In announcing the stepping back of her group, NPSG spokesperson Jane Petch outlines the situation in an article in this week’s issue of the Driftwood. With the same level of conscientiousness that has motivated her to volunteer for so many years, she offers options for how people can deal with the broom they cut this year.

With any luck, that kind of care and enthusiasm will take root among a new generation of environmentally conscious, broom-busting volunteers.

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