Laura Brown

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March 25, 2008
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Big sweep to uproot Scotch Broom

Ridding the county of Scotch Broom is a daunting task, but volunteers are targeting four sites in the county this spring as part of a long-term war to stop the weeds.

The effort is being led by the Nevada County Fire Safe Council and the Nevada County Resource Conservation District.

Groups of volunteers will gather at two sites on Saturday along Wolf Creek and Pleasant Valley Road. Earlier this month, 20 volunteers devoted two days to a clean-up on Champion Road.

Scotch Broom is an invasive weed from the British Isles that runs rampant in Nevada County. It is considered a problem because it chokes out native species, poses a fire hazard and impedes movement of wildlife.

"It's an incredibly widespread, aggressive weed that tends to form dense clusters. This is not a desired plant in our area," said Hilary Drucker, natural resource management specialist for the conservation district.

Throughout the state of California, Scotch Broom has consumed 60,000 acres, Drucker said.

The yellow flowered shrub was planted for a number of years as erosion control along roadways. Until recently, shoppers could buy it at area nurseries as a hardy, drought-tolerant landscape plant.

Last year, the county's agriculture commissioner prohibited the sale of Scotch Broom at nurseries to slow the plant's spread.

The best time to remove plants is October through April, before the shrubs have flowered or gone to seed, Drucker said.

One plant can produce thousands of seeds that readily self-sow.

Volunteers will use an implement known as a weed wrench to pull the entire root base of the plant from the earth, Drucker said.

On Saturday, volunteers are asked to join the Wolf Creek Community Alliance from 9 a.m. until the nuisance plant is eradicated from Wolf Creek and Wolf Road. Volunteers will receive a free lunch and water bottle.

On April 5, volunteers are needed to help control a section of Tyler Foote Road on the San Juan Ridge.

A free lunch is offered along with a $5 gift certificate to the California Native Plant Society's upcoming plant sale.

To pre-register as a volunteer, contact Drucker at 272-3417.

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The Union Updated Mar 26, 2008 05:19AM Published Mar 25, 2008 03:00AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.