5 Group
Volunteers Pitch in on French Broom Pull at Wildlife Crossing
Properties, Projects, Environment, Trails
by Audrelina Mendiola-Arriola
on January 16, 2024

The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County held the first volunteer event to support the Highway 17 wildlife crossing in December 2023!

Twenty hard-working volunteers helped the Land Trust staff pull the non-native plant Genista monspessulana, commonly known as French broom. Although beautiful in its own way with oblong green leaflets and bright yellow flowers, French broom forms dense stands that exclude native plants and wildlife from their natural habitat. This plant is unpalatable to most livestock (excluding goats), and it decreases rangeland value while increasing fire hazards. These flowering plants produce copious amounts of seeds and may resprout from the root crown if cut or grazed.

Between hand pulling and weed wrenching (weed wrenches are specialized tools made to pull woody invasive plants), volunteers and staff were able to effectively clear two dense sections of French broom on a fire road leading up to the Highway 17 wildlife crossing. A few folks also stayed behind at the end of the event to rake the ground directly underneath the highway to help wildlife biologists track animal prints when they check their game cameras.

You may have heard the news already, but we’ve recently captured footage of the first puma to use the crossing underneath highway 17! You can check out the video here.

Weed management efforts like this will help to connect wildlife across the natural open spaces of Santa Cruz County.

The Highway 17 wildlife crossing is not usually open to the public. Volunteering with the Land Trust is a great way to see projects that support wildlife and biodiversity up close! Join our efforts by participating in unique volunteer opportunities like this event and fill out our volunteer form here.

And, if you're not already a member, you can also support our work by donating here.

Copy of Untitled Design