2023 Broom Bash at Mansons Spit

Close to a dozen volunteers and two Park Rangers participated in the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) annual Broom Bash on Saturday, March 18.

They swept the spit at Mansons Lagoon in about 3 hours. 

“We really appreciate all of the help from the volunteers here on Cortes. It’s really amazing that the local community comes out and takes ownership of this place. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” said Eli Simcoe Metcalfe, of BC Parks.

The Broom – Photo by Roy L hales

He and his partner, Thomas Porsborg, joined in the work and also brought some baked goods for break time.  

Helen Hall, Executive Director of FOCI, explained “The fact there’s very little broom left in the spit is all through community volunteers. Before we started doing this, the broom was  7-8 feet tall and we had to get out with chainsaws.  Now, coming back each year, we’ve just cut the regrowth.”

CC: How many volunteer activities do you have happening at FOCI? 

HH: “We’ve got a whole range of different volunteer activities. Things like this, which is practical conservation. We’ve also been doing a lot of work bees at the newly restored Dillon Creek Wetland at Linnaea Farm. We also have volunteers doing monitoring work for us. Over the winter months we’ve been doing forage fish surveys on the beach. In the summer we do foreshore monitoring with volunteers, looking at the different plant and animal communities at low tides on the beach. We’ve been doing that now for 25 years, so that data’s really important. We also have volunteers going out once a month doing monitoring on the lake.”

“We’re also just about to start what’s called light trap monitoring, which is placing a light trap into Cortes Bay. We are currently looking for volunteers for that. It involves putting the light trap in the water each night. We’re looking for the larvae of two crabs. The Dungeness Crab, which is under threat and also the invasive Green Crab. We’re looking for those two larvae to see if those crabs are here. Data is going back to the Hakai Institute, which has 20 light traps throughout the Salish Sea.”

CC: So we’re talking about dozens of people? 

HH: “Yes, lots of people, doing lots of different types of volunteer work.”

Leona Jensen has been volunteering since she arrived on Cortes Island 7 years ago. She thinks she might take part in about 30 FOCI events per year. 

“Yesterday I went to a Streamkeepers meeting.  Then there was the wetland project, I went to pretty well all of their volunteer days. I like to be outside,  to be in nature. I like to help nature if I can,” she said.

“I’m here today because I’m concerned about the invasive broom plants  everywhere, but especially here on Manson’s Landing because it’s such a vulnerable spot.” 

Alex Bernier is one of the contractors FOCI uses to maintain Cortes Island parks, but he came in a different role Saturday.  

“I’m just volunteering  to try to mitigate the broom invasion down at Manson’s Lagoon. It’s a beautiful day and it’s a good cause to try to promote the native species to take back this land,” he said.  

CC: Do you come every year?

AB:  “Yes, for probably the last five years now.” 

CC: Do you have any idea of the kind of impact FOCI is making on Cortes society? 

HH: “We like to feel that we’re an organization that’s open to anyone joining us to volunteer. I think they get a lot out of it. There’s a lot for the environment, but there’s a lot for people too.”  

“A lot of people this morning are having good fun, having a chance to meet with their neighbors and do something really positive too. I think individual projects bring a lot to volunteers. They also learn a lot about the local environment as well as contributing to some really important monitoring work and some conservation work too.” 

“We’re always looking for volunteers to come and help us.  If anyone’s interested, they can phone 250-935-0087 or email  friendsofcortes@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you.” 

“Everybody come out, come to  FOCI meetings, come to any chance you get to volunteer, come out to the Broom Bash,” added Jensen.

Top photo credit: Leona Jensen clipping broom- Photo by Roy L Hales

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