Gorse (Ulex europeaus) is an Oregon State Class B Noxious weed found in abundance on the southern Oregon coast. Gorse was intentionally introduced into the southern Oregon coast in the late 1800s and is now rated one of the top 100 worst invasive species worldwide (World Conservation Union), and the #1 most invasive species on the south coast of Oregon (Oregon State Parks). The presence of gorse has negatively impacted the regional economy and, due to its flammable nature, has created a serious public safety concern. In 1936, gorse played a key role in the complete burning of the town of Bandon, OR (Oregon Historical Society).
Controlling gorse requires a collaborative, long-term effort to combine knowledge and resources. The Gorse Action Group (GAG) is a collaborative group of representatives from federal, state, and county agencies and nonprofit organizations seeking to work together to assess the extent of gorse and create a strategic plan for control on the southern Oregon coast. Initially a subgroup of the Curry Wildfire Preparation Team and funded by the BLM and National Fire Plan, it soon became apparent that the GAG should branch out to become its own focused initiative. The GAG is a great example of diverse groups pooling resources and working toward a common solution. The mission of the GAG is to:
- Restore natural and ecological values to the land
- Increase economic and recreational values in the region
- Increase public safety by reducing wildfire risk
In March & April 2014, David C. Smith & Associates, Inc. of Portland, OR flew over approximately 1.6 million acres in Coos, Curry, and Douglas Counties taking aerial photos at a 1-foot resolution in order to graphically assess the geographic coverage of gorse-covered land. Currently, teams are collecting data using environmental and spectral stratification inputs on groundcover to aid in calibrating the computer model for gorse presence and percent cover. The expected outcomes include percent cover of gorse, predicted spread, and a better understanding of the overall impact of the gorse.