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With the arrival of spring, the invasive shrub called French broom, with its long woody stalks and pretty yellow flowers, is popping up all over Sonoma Valley. But French broom is unwanted here because it’s environmentally destructive, a fire hazard, and very hard to control.

And according to Sonoma Ecology Center Restoration Program Manager Jason Mills, French broom (Genista monspessulana) has been especially virulent this spring in Sonoma Valley’s post-fire areas. To slow its spread, Mills and the Restoration Department are inviting the public to take part in two outdoor “broom pull” events this month, on April 13 and April 22. These are family-friendly events where volunteers join us in a beautiful outdoor location – in Sonoma Developmental Center on sites where fire swept through in October 2017 – and help restore it to its natural glory.

“Broom is a highly invasive species here on the Central Coast,” Mills said. “I’ve been involved with its control for nearly 20 years now and have developed a systematic approach that has been effective.” Two important rules, he said, are don’t mow it, and try to pull it up while the ground is still wet.

That means now, and Mills said he is excited to spend the two days outside with fellow Sonoma Valley residents, working together to slow the spread of this pernicious plant. “Please join us!” he added.

Gloves and tools as well as drinks and snacks will be provided. Please wear sturdy shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in. All ages are welcome (children must be accompanied by an adult). Heavy rain will cancel.

What: Broom pull, an outdoor volunteer event
Where: Western side of Arnold Drive in Sonoma Developmental Center (see directions below)
When: April 13 and April 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Who: All are invited
Directions: SEE THIS MAP. We will be meeting in the parking lot of the old farmhouse/superintendent house on the SDC campus, located along Arnold Drive across from the parking area for Sonoma Valley Regional Park. This is the northern part of SDC between the two bridges crossing over Sonoma Creek.