For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 22, 2017
Tiburon Peninsula residents mark 20 years of invasive plant eradication
San Rafael, CA – When invasive plants on a nearby nature preserve became a threat to native flowers and a wildland fire risk for homes, a handful of Tiburon Peninsula residents pulled on their gardening gloves and took to the slopes, yanking out the culprits by the roots. That was 20 years ago, and dirt-stained Broom Busters are still going strong on the first Saturday of each month at Old Saint Hilary’s Open Space Preserve.
Marin County Parks had two representatives at the group’s first organizational meeting in January 1997. Kathy Martinez, Chuck Taylor, Jean Taylor, Maureen Meikle, Rodger Felton, Helen Lindqvvist, and Linda Chute were the original resident members who talked with Parks’ Leonard Page and Brian Sanford.
“The volunteers wanted to save the land from development, but they also wanted to improve it,” said Brian Sanford, Parks’ south region superintendent. “Several rare and endangered plants were being overrun by invasive french broom, and they understood how important the work was going to be.”
The first work day took place three weeks later. Once word circulated in the community about the Broom Busters’ mission, a homeowners group and youth group occasionally joined the ranks. The Broom Busters won a statewide community volunteering award in 2005 from the California Park & Recreation Society. Marin Community Foundation awarded the group a grant that allowed the Broom Busters to purchase tools in 2007.
Today, all of the original broom plants have been removed, in some cases several times. As an example of how persistence can pay off, a patch of invasive yellow starthistle was pulled regularly for many years, but no new plants have been located in the area since 2009.
“We need to work with private community members near the preserve to keep the volunteers motivated to pull new growth to restore this incredible place,” said Greg Reza, Parks’ volunteer program coordinator. “It’s going to take another 20 or 30 years to completely eradicate the invasive plants from this area.”
The spirit of groups such as the Broom Busters is central to Parks’ approach to vegetation management, which follows the goal of removing invasive plants in open space preserves and other facilities with little or no pesticide use. Each year volunteers provide nearly 8,000 hours out of 37,000 total hours of labor to physically remove invasive vegetation such as french broom, scotch broom, thistles, fennel, and non-native grasses. Anyone interested in joining or forming a volunteer group should contact Reza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-473-3778. More volunteering opportunities may be found on Parks’ volunteering webpage.
Refreshments will be served at the March 11 celebration, and afterward attendees are invited to help uproot more invasive plants. The event may be cancelled if it’s raining.
Greg RezaVolunteer CoordinatorMarin County Parks
18 Jeannette Prandi WaySan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-3778Email: Greg RezaMarin County Parks website