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Helicopter helps with removal of invasive Scotch broom at Mill Hill

Jun 07 2012

Mill Hill Regional Park will look a little less yellow after Wednesday’s removal by helicopter of bundles of Scotch broom.

Over the last decade, nearly 63 tonnes of invasive weeds have been removed from the 71-hectare park in Langford.

The park was closed Wednesday while a helicopter hoisted bundles of broom from the mountainous park and dropped them in the lower parking lot for transport. The shrubs will be processed into biofuel at a commercial facility.

Anyone tackling broom knows it doesn’t leave without resistance. The bright yellow blooms quickly fade, and tough seed pods take their place, popping in the summer sun and spreading seed far and wide.

“Taking on any invasive species project, you have to regard it as a long-term proposition,” said Marilyn Fuchs, an environmental conservation specialist with the Capital Regional District parks department.

“Mill Hill is an important and special place, partly due to the Garry oak meadows and how endangered they are, but also there is an extremely high concentration of rare and endangered plants,” Fuchs said.

“It’s among the highest concentration in the whole province, so it really warrants this kind of effort.”

Rare plants are being monitored to see if their numbers are growing with the broom gone.

The white-top aster, listed as a species at risk, is showing an increase in numbers, Fuchs said.

“That’s very gratifying to see,” she said.

“Initially following broom removal, you do see a rush of invasive grasses, but after a few years, we’re seeing native species start to re-establish themselves.”

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