On Saturday, March 26th, 19 volunteers joined SYRCL’s Restoration Team on the Independence Trail and removed two acres of invasive Scotch broom! Volunteers used weed wrenches to remove each plant from the soil, being careful to cause as little disturbance as possible to small mosses and wildflowers – especially in their springtime bloom. Volunteers then mulched each plant with loppers right where it was pulled. This method is meant to stabilize the soil where the plant was removed, and also inhibit new Scotch Broom plants from sprouting the next season.
California State Parks Environmental Scientist, Dan Lubin, and State Parks Forestry Aide, Anna Van Zuuk, partnered with SYRCL’s Restoration Coordinator, Cordi Craig, on this event. Lubin gave volunteers a thorough explanation of the negative effects of Scotch broom and taught participants how to correctly use weed wrenches and loppers.
Scotch broom is a highly invasive non-native plant that can be found all over the Sierra foothills. In the springtime, the weed develops small, pretty yellow flowers, but don’t be fooled; Scotch broom poses an extreme fire danger to our communities. It spreads rapidly and acts as a ladder fuel, moving fires up into the canopies of large, healthy trees during high severity fires. The plant does not provide habitat or food for wildlife, and it changes the microbial relationships in the soils below it to make it less hospitable for native plants. Scotch broom displaces beneficial native plants and decreases biodiversity. This is especially impactful on sensitive riparian habitats along waterways.
Volunteers are a necessary piece of the fight to control Scotch broom. We rely on people power as we work towards eradication. It is important to remember that timing is critical when dealing with this invasive weed. Pulling, using a weed wrench is easiest in the Winter and early Spring while the soil is wet and the plant has not quite flowered or set seed. The plant can be cut up using loppers below the lowest node in the late summer and early fall when the soil is very dry. Any moisture can aid regrowth through the stump. You must go back every year for at least five years to make sure the plant does not come back! Find out more about invasive plants in our watershed and how to deal with them in this concise synopsis written by State Parks.
Be sure to make sure your property is fire safe and remove Scotch broom from your properties! Tools can be borrowed from your local Fire Safe Council.