February 22, 2017 – With the abundant rains this winter, springtime will be an epic time for wildflowers. As we approach the season of bursting flowers and renewed life, we want to bring your attention to a shrub with vibrant, yellow flowers distracting you from a dangerous secret: the nefarious Scotch broom.

This seemingly happy, go-lucky plant outcompetes native plant species through a number of strategies. First, animals can’t keep it in check because they don’t want to eat it. Scotch broom also drops oils that change the content of the soil itself. Furthermore, this noxious weed thrives in a wide range of environmental conditions and seeds can survive in soil for over 80 years. The long-term seed survival is doubly impressive considering that just one shrub produces thousands of seeds, which are transported over large areas by animals, humans, automobiles—you name it. Scotch broom flourishes on roadsides, limiting visibility, and the shrubs are a notorious fire hazard in the Sierra Nevada.

That’s right, we said fire. Scotch broom is known as a ladder-fuel—vegetation that allows fire to climb to greater heights. Scotch broom forms high density stands, increasing fuel loading in the Sierra Nevada. Remember those soil-changing oils? The flammable nature of those oils just add to the risk of a fast spreading wildfire in a Scotch broom stand.

Despair not, for we have a solution: The Scotch Broom Challenge! Local organizations such as The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and the Fire Safe Council are teaming up to remove this plant and to actively inform the public about Scotch Broom’s role as a fire hazard. In the past few years, several acres of broom have been removed from beloved Nevada County trails, and the sale of Scotch broom was banned by the Agricultural Commission of Nevada County.

If you’re ready to continue the good work and tackle Scotch broom head-on, then we have more exciting news! SYRCL is hosting a Scotch Broom Challenge on Sunday, April 2nd from 9am-1pm at Hoyt’s Crossing/Independence Trail. We will meet at the Highway 49 Bridge parking lot at 9am and use weed wrenches to show Scotch broom the door. For more information, please visit our website at: http://yubariver.org/event/2017-scotch-broom-challenge/. Also, be sure to check out the Fire Safe Council website (www.areyoufiresafe.com) for more Scotch Broom Challenge events close to you!

As SYRCL’s Restoration team (a.k.a. The River Avengers) like to say: DOOM ON BROOM!

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering, contact Courtney Hudson, AmeriCorps Restoration Coordinator at courtney@syrcl.org or 530.265.5961 ext. 216.

Know &Go:

What: SYRCL’s Scotch Broom Challenge

When: Sunday, April 2, 2017

Where: Hoyt’s Crossing/Independence Trail

Meet at the Highway 49 parking lot