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LETTER: Scotch broom harm is well-documented

To the Editor...
The Broombusters Invasive Plant Society wants the province to officially label the invasive species Scotch broom as a noxious weed. (File photo)

To the Editor,

Re: “Writer disagrees with expert," Jun 19, 2024, Alberni Valley News

In a recent letter, Mr. Forbes seemed to be asking for documentation regarding harm done by Scotch broom. 

It is easy to find facts and figures about economic losses and harm caused by Scotch broom in Washington and Oregon.  We can assume Canada suffers similar losses. 

Oregon Department of Agriculture reports $47 million lost yearly in lost timber production and control of Scotch broom.  Washington State quotes direct loss caused by Scotch broom to livestock, timber and hunting over $59 million yearly; and additional $142.8 million yearly in lost business activity.

Regarding the impact on bees: “Scotch broom is documented as a threat to 36 focal species at risk, which are primarily plants, but also arthropods, molluscs, and birds.”

Arthropods are all insects, including bees. The harm to bees is primarily through destruction of habitat and displacement of native food sources which historically have supported bees throughout summer, creating a feast or famine situation for pollinators.

Forest industries in Washington State report, “Dense stands prevent forest regeneration after clearing.”  If the broom moves in after young trees are well-established, some trees can survive.  We are all looking for better, more effective ways to control Scotch broom.  We would love for interested parties to do multi-year experiments, and to share any repeatable new findings.

(Citations: Researchers for the international peer-reviewed research journal - FACETS, ESSA Technologies, and ISCBC; Oregon Department of Agriculture; Multiple Departments in Washington State.)

Joanne Sales,

Executive Director of Broombusters Invasive Plant Society