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Invasive Scotch broom continues to be an issue in B.C.

Scotch broom is pictured in Campbell River. (iStock) Scotch broom is pictured in Campbell River. (iStock)
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Cut broom in bloom: That’s the message the province is preaching right now, as the invasive plant, Scotch broom, tries to take over Vancouver Island.

As some communities push the province to do more about the invasion, experts are explaining that it's easier said than done.

According to Becky Brown, B.C. Ministry of Forest invasive species specialist, the plant has run rampant across the region, inhabiting many areas with at-risk native species.

The plant also creates a risk with dry brush and stems that can quickly catch flame and spread.

The Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities passed a resolution in April calling on the B.C. government to take "actionable steps" to control the spread of introduced Scotch broom across the province, as well as encouraging local governments to address it through bylaws and policies.

Joanne Sales, the executive director of Broom Busters, says thanks to years of coordinated efforts to rein in broom on Gabriola Island, the problem is diminishing, and asks why a similar effort can’t be made in Qualicum.

Brown, however, says the situation is more complicated in the Qualicum area.

"Qualicum Beach, I mean, that’s in the center of some of our oldest Scotch broom populations in the province," she said.

"We’re not going to be able to make the problem go away in a short period of time. The areas outside the south coast, we have a far greater opportunity to prevent impact in those areas than we do right in the centre of our oldest populations," said Brown.

She says it would take more than a century of intense focus on a single highly populated area to make any notable difference.

Once cut down, seeds can continue to live in the soil for 60 years, and can continue to germinate the area.

However, individuals can do their part to help. If you spot a Scotch broom not in bloom, you can pull it out by the root and toss it in the compost bin. It is a little trickier if it has already bloomed. The best chance to limit spread at that point is through burning the plant. 

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