The cheerful blossoms of Scotch broom are a sign of spring on Oregon’s north coast … and a signal of habitat in crisis. Widely planted and admired in the early 20th century for those bright yellow blossoms, Scotch broom out-competes native plants and is turning open coastal prairies into a monoculture of dense, weedy shrubs, destroying the habitat that many coastal animals need to survive.
North Coast Land Conservancy has responded by declaring May Broom-Buster Month on the Oregon Coast. Each May staff and volunteers with North Coast Land Conservancy focus on removing invasive Scotch broom from their properties, and they encourage other property owners to do the same. The primary tool is loppers; cutting mature Scotch broom at or below ground level, where the stem is brown and not green, will kill the plant, and it won’t re-sprout. Digging out mature plants may actually encourage the growth of even more broom seedlings. For more tips, visit NCLCtrust.org/bust-broom-in-your-backyard.
On Saturday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will be busting broom at the conservancy’s Thompson Creek and Stanley March Habitat Reserve in Seaside. These 80 acres of creek and wetland are now one of NCLC’s most visible success stories, with beavers actively building dams throughout the property. As time permits, volunteers might use the same loppers they’re wielding against Scotch broom to cut back weeds encroaching on young willows that volunteers planted here in December.
Then on Wednesday, May 17, also from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., NCLC volunteers will be busting broom at Surf Pines Prairie in Warrenton, which NCLC manages for habitat conservation. Anyone interested in volunteering for either event is asked to contact NCLC Stewardship Director Melissa Reich at (503) 738-9126 or firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know you’re coming and to get directions. Wear sturdy boots and gloves.
Bring loppers if you have them; otherwise all equipment will be provided. Bring drinking water and lunch; there will be no toilets or potable water on site. Dogs are not allowed on NCLC properties. More details on both events are at NCLCtrust.org/hands-on-stewardship.
For more broom-busting, join NCLC’s Wednesday Weed Warriors. Every Wednesday May 3 through September, volunteers help the NCLC stewardship crew tackle various projects on NCLC lands. In May, they’ll be helping land steward Eric Owen bust broom on one NCLC property or another. All are welcome to help Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.—or for as much time as you can spare. For details, visit NCLCtrust.org/weed-warrior-Wednesdays.