The South Yuba River Citizens League has taken on some tough challenges in its 30 year history. We saved the Yuba from dams and won statewide Wild and Scenic Status for the South Yuba River. Last year, we rallied the community to prevent the closure of the South Yuba River State Park. And every year, we recruit hundreds of volunteers to pick up tons of garbage along the river banks in just one day. But we now are gearing up for the biggest challenge of them all: the annual Scotch Broom Challenge!
As a river conservation organization, SYRCL understands the need to protect water quality by removing invasive weeds along the river corridor. This ambitious goal calls for SYRCL’s proven ability to unite the community — and we are calling on all river lovers to join us in this effort to rid our local environment of scotch broom.
SYRCL is proud to be part of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County’s Scotch Broom Challenge once again. Scotch broom is the dominant invasive weed in the area, and this year, SYRCL has adopted a site located at Hoyt’s Crossing, a popular swimming hole on the South Yuba River on Bureau of Land Management land near the Highway 49 Bridge.
Scotch broom is said to have spread to the United States as an ornamental shrub. Rumors say that the plant moved into the Sierra as a packing material for whiskey crates. Scotch broom spreads rapidly and is highly aggressive. After two years of growth, its seed pods can disperse up to 15,000 seeds that can live for more than 80 years.
As many citizens of Nevada County know, scotch broom is a contentious plant. In the springtime, this non-native invasive weed blooms into a pretty yellow flowering shrub, but scotch broom is undesirable for several reasons. First of all, the plant is highly flammable, creating fire danger throughout our forests and on our roadsides. Additionally, it rapidly displaces beneficial native plants, degrades habitat for native birds and insects, and decreases biodiversity. Such impacts to habitat are of particular concern in sensitive areas, such as riparian habitats along waterways. Finally, Scotch Broom often grows in thick stands, which can inhibit the movement of wildlife and livestock.
There are several methods for removing Scotch Broom. The favored method is to pull it up by its trunk, effectively de-rooting the plant. Pulling is easiest in the winter and early spring while the soil is wet. Pulling is also made easy by the use of a weed wrench. Weed wrenches may be borrowed for pulling scotch broom on your personal property year-round from the Fire Safe Council. Another method for the removal of scotch broom is cutting during the dry summer months. Scotch broom must be cut below the lowest node on its trunk, and the soil must be dry, as any moisture can aid regrowth through the stump.
Volunteers are vital to the fight against scotch broom and other invasive weeds. Because it is so widespread, we rely on human power to work toward eradication. We need the community! It’s simple: The more people we have working to remove scotch broom, the more ground we will cover. Together, we can create a more fire safe and healthy riparian ecosystem.
Experience shows that invasive weed removal efforts can be both fun and effective. During SYRCL’s annual Cleanup Day for the last two years, 139 volunteers participated in pulling invasive weeds at nine sites with a total of 22 acres before enjoying a fantastic picnic at Bridgeport.
Please join us in the fight against these pesky invasive weeds by coming out for the Scotch Broom Challenge! The SYRCL team will be at Hoyt’s Crossing April 27 starting at 9 a.m. Contact Adele Rife, SYRCL’s Restoration Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating (http://yubariver.org). A full list of removal sites and dates can be found from the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County at http://areyoufiresafe.com. Happy weed removal!
Adele Rife is restoration coordinator with AmeriCorps and with the South Yuba River Citizens League.
After two years of growth, (scotch broom) seed pods can disperse up to 15,000 seeds that can live for more than 80 years.