Tag Archives: Scotch broom

Scotch broom infiltrating SR16 decorative medians

The in basket: I noticed during a series of trips to Tacoma and back recently that the median on Highway 16 along what I call the Purdy Bypass is particularly attractive, with flowering trees and other landscaping I must assume the state spend a good sum on when the highway was built. Some other stretches of Highway 16’s median are as nice.

But among the flowers in late May and early June was a tell-tale bright yellow, the blooms of scotch broom. They actually looked quite nice as an accent for the other plants while they lasted. But we all know what happens when scotch broom goes untended. You can see it blanketing the shoulders on either side of the nice medians.

The state finds it nearly impossible to eradicate scotch broom on its right of way, but I asked if the few plants that have gotten a toe-hold in an area the state evidently paid to make garden-like is something they try to remove.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokesperson for the state highways here, replied, “Unfortunately, we don’t have dedicated resources to totally clear scotch broom from our right of way. We use our limited resources to clear scotch broom in areas where it limits sight distance or encroaches into travel lanes.

“In the area you referenced, the scotch broom actually serves the useful purpose of reducing the glare at night from oncoming headlights.

There’s a lot more about the state’s roadside vegetation program online at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Maintenance/Roadside/.

What’s our $2 noxious weed fee being spent on?

The in basket: Michael Ball writes to ask, “What is the Kitsap County Noxious Weed Program doing with our tax dollars?

“With the amount of noxious weeds (scotch broom, gorse) present on our roadways,” he said, “I was wondering what Kitsap county is doing to prevent and eradicate the spread of noxious weeds? It doesn’t appear that anything is happening, each year the scotch broom seems to double and quadruple in size. On state highways it doesn’t appear that the state is doing anything in Kitsap County either.”

The out basket: It happened that I was working up a Road Warrior column about this year’s noxious weed spraying program when Michael’s e-mail came in.

He emphasizes scotch broom, but noxious as it is, it isn’t a target of the county program. Neither are Himalayan blackberries, which also strike me as noxious, except when their tasty berries are abundant.

But the focus of the program is attacking non-native weeds that force out native plants before they get too numerous to eradicate.

Dana Coggon, head of the program, explains.

“Scotch broom is not a designated noxious weed for control here in Kitsap County,” she said. “The State Weed Laws RCW 17.10 and WAC 16-750 state that “the goal of the Weed Board is to slow the spread of designated noxious weeds. Unfortunately for many Western Washington counties, Scotch broom is so widespread that it is not seen as good use of resources to mandate its control.

“Our goal is to stop the spread of many weeds before they become as widespread as Scotch broom. Your fees go towards trainings that are held throughout the county to inform citizens about the impacts of invasive weeds in hopes of empowering individuals to make a difference one site at a time.

 “We do, however, advocate for citizens to work on their Scotch broom and we have worked with home owners associations to put together community Scotch broom pulls in many neighborhoods. If you would like some information on how to set up a community pull, please contact me. (DCoggon@co.kitsap.wa.us).

“Many of us are allergic to Scotch broom,” she said. “I also find it difficult and frustrating that there is not more action on the control of this menace not only in our back yards but also along the roadways. I have been working with the county road crews and the State Department of Transportation to address some of the larger problem areas

“Unfortunately the county weed control program has only been in existence since 2005 and the Scotch broom has had about a 20-30 year jump on me.

“The best motto that I have with the Scotch broom is ‘One a day keeps millions away.’ If we all (pulled out) just one a day not only on our properties but also in public areas we could make a difference.

“I would like to have funds to address all of the noxious weed issues in the county, but unfortunately we are relegated to addressing the few challenges that our board feels are the highest priorities.

“I invite you to attend one of our County Noxious Weed Control Board meetings to voice your concerns about what the noxious weed priorities should be. I also challenge you to become more involved and active in our program to help stop the spread of invasive weeds.”

So what are the priorities that trump Scotch broom? That’s the subject of the next Road Warrior.