Air Force joins broom war

19 Wing Comox joins Parksville Qualicum Beach broombusters

Joanne Sales works with Sgt. Steve Chaiasson, one of more than 80 service personnel who joined the broom battle.

Joanne Sales works with Sgt. Steve Chaiasson, one of more than 80 service personnel who joined the broom battle.

Joanne Sales has recruited a significant ally in her war against a foreign invader in the Central Island — the Royal Canadian Air Force.

And while they won’t be using broom-seeking missiles or napalm, Sales is confident they’ll make a significant impact on their foe — invasive Scotch broom.

On Tuesday, 19 Wing Comox Captain Trevor Reid announced that members of the unit will clear Scotch broom from Ryan Road on Wednesday.

“This volunteer work is being done in conjunction with Broombusters,” Reid said.  “This organization is providing tools and instruction on how to properly remove the plants to the 19 Wing volunteers.”

Sales said she was delighted with the development, noting that Ryan Road, which leads to the Comox military base, is particularly infested with broom.

“That’s a terrible road that leads down to the base,” Sales said. “Even with 120 people coming out, I still don’t think they will get it all.”

Even with help from the military, Sales conceded it’s unlikely Vancouver Island will ever be once-again broom-free, but if enough people get involved, it can be at least controlled.

“I don’t think we can beat the big areas,” she said. “We go to the little areas because what we have to do is stop it from spreading and save what’s left. When we see a small patch in the corner of an open field, we take it out and we’re saving that field. I try not to look at the areas already covered in broom.”

Support from the media, she said, has alerted many people to the need to do something about the problem. That support comes not only from The NEWS, but now also from CTV, which on Monday filmed a segment on Broom Busters for their show, I Love This Island.

Now, she said, the key is to get those people out in the field with a set of sharp loppers.

“Now that people are aware, we need to move people beyond awareness to saying, ‘I can do something about this,” she said. “It doesn’t have to spread any more than we have it now.”

Sales noted that aerial photographs show the major infestations of broom tend to be along road corridors, so when people see a sea of yellow along the side of the highway, they are seeing the worst of it.

“It’s much worse along the roads,” Sales said. “It goes where humans go.”

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