Broom Bash: Building Fire-Safe Communities Together!

Despite the drizzly conditions, our community rallied on Saturday, March 30, with over a dozen dedicated volunteers showing up on the corner of Lake Blvd and Carrol Ave in Lompico for a successful “Broom Bash.” The highly invasive French broom (Genista monspessulana) burns readily and carries fire to the tree canopy, increasing the frequency and intensity of fires. 

The volunteers worked on about an acre of land thoroughly invaded with the broom, growing within 300 feet of over 20 homes. Luckily, the winter rains and saturated soil conditions enabled the volunteers to easily remove the broom by pulling it out by the roots. Even the large, mature plants came out quickly without using tools. Volunteers pulled, hauled out, and filled up a total of FOUR PICKUP TRUCK LOADS! It was far more broom than was anticipated. The broom was then hauled and dumped at the Ben Lomond Transfer Station for free, thanks to a voucher provided by the County Recycling & Solid Waste Services.

Our collective effort in removing the broom from this area, which was dangerously close to many homes, has significantly enhanced the fire-readiness of the Lompico community. In the event of a fire, its spread will be slowed, giving our firefighters more time and space to combat it effectively, potentially saving more homes.

One of the significant benefits of our “Broom Bash” is the restoration of native understory plants. Broom, with its invasive nature, typically outcompetes our native ferns, lilies, hedge nettle, columbine, redwood sorrel, miners lettuce, native ginger, and many other species found in this area. By encouraging native plant biodiversity, we preserve our local ecosystem and make our community more fire-safe. These native plants are better adapted to fire and do not spread fire quickly or allow fire to reach the tree canopy. They also provide excellent habitats for our local native insects, pollinators, birds, reptiles, and mammals, contributing to the overall health of our environment.

Remember, each of us can make a difference. If you see French broom on your property, pull it out! It is effortless to pull after a good rain. Make sure you get it out before it goes to seed. The mature seed pods explode and can spread seeds up to 12 feet away from the mother plant. Each plant can produce up to 8,000 seeds, remaining viable in the soil for up to 30 years! If you notice an area infested by French broom and think it is threatening neighboring homes, contact your local Firewise coordinator (if you have one): https://www.cal-ipc.org/resources/library/publications/ipcw/report52/ or the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz: https://www.firesafesantacruz.org/

You can also organize your neighbors for a “Broom Bash,” strengthening your community bonds. 

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