Effort to control Scotch Broom also spurs job growth

A new effort to control the non-native and invasive Scotch broom infestation in the dunes and on the Ocean Shores peninsula was demonstrated last week to the city and local residents, led by a conservation group aiming to create more good-paying jobs in the process.

Scotch broom is classified as a noxious weed in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and India. It is known for quickly taking over new areas and “out-competing other plants. It prevents normal growth of native species,” according to the 10,000 Years Institute.

Scotch broom also is highly flammable and a serious fire hazard, the Institute notes, and is toxic to grazing wildlife.

The Institute’s goal is to “create a conservation corps program, employing local crews in their watershed to protect forests, salmon, wildlife, natural resources industries and our communities through elimination of Scotch broom.”

In Ocean Shores last week, Jill Silver, executive director of the Institute, brought out a work crew from the Forks area to meet with local citizens and city crew members to clear a large area of the dunes west of the Shilo Inn off the Chance a la Mer beach approach.

“Our restoration crews are employed under the project called Pulling Together in Restoration, funded through the Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative (WCRRI),” Silver explained. “It’s our fourth year creating jobs in coastal communities supporting coastal resiliency, healthy forests and fish habitat, and reducing wildfires.”

Mayor Crystal Dingler arranged for Silver’s group to visit Wednesday and Thursday, with the Shilo providing accommodations.

“We mostly work on the north coast, from Lake Crescent down to Quinault for the most part,” Silver said. “We work on 15 different plant species.”

Of the 10 people who came to Ocean Shores to work, Silver noted that everyone “is employed in family-wage jobs.”

Also on hand was Kiley Smith, noxious weed control coordinator for Grays Harbor County. The goal is to spread the effort as well as educate the public and create more jobs in areas where they are most needed. The group has made a presentation for 24th District lawmakers this past February.

“We’re trying to make the case to southwest district legislators that these are good-paying jobs with great training and skills that translate, and doing a service for communities,” Silver said.

“Many, many thanks to everyone who made this happen. This was an outstanding effort,” Dingler said.