March 15, 2004 Thurston Nature Center Committee Meeting

7:00-8:30 pm, Thurston Elementary School Library


Present: Vicki Botek, Jim Breck, Beth Caldwell, Mike Conboy, Neal Foster, Heidi Koester, David Miller, Howard Schafer, Elsa Stuber, Georgia White-Epperson


Guest: Colin Forgacs


The meeting was called to order 7:00.  A quorum was present.  Howard Schafer requested to become a committee member.  Elsa moved to approve.  Beth seconded.  All in favor; none opposed; none abstained.


The minutes from February 16 were presented.  Neal moved to approve them.  Jim seconded.  All in favor; none opposed; none abstained.


Colin Forgacs from Scout Troop 8 presented his Eagle Scout project.  He was originally supposed to do it for OHAC, but there was a problem with OHAC’s specific type of nonprofit designation, which made them ineligible as the official sponsor.  However, OHAC would still be happy to cooperate it the TNC could be the sponsor.  Colin would like to continue with part of his original project plan, which was to build a picnic table for an area near the pond, on OHAC property.  He was also planning to replace some damaged and deteriorating benches.  He can expand that part of the plan to include more benches in the TNC.  In addition, he would plant native species in the area near the Bluett stairway where vegetation was removed or destroyed when the large fallen willow was removed from the TNC.  Colin needs to finish the project by the end of April, but may be able to get an extension due to the delay caused by the problem with OHAC sponsorhip.  Some funding would come from OHAC.  Neal offered to donate a paw-paw.  Vicki offered to contribute toward plant purchases.  Colin’s fellow scouts will help with the work.  David offered to help with tools or expertise.


There were concerns about the picnic table: increased noise, increased trash, attraction for insects, maintenance and affect on view/esthetics (depending where the table would be located).  It was suggested that OHAC be advised of our willingness to sponsor the project , provided location and responsibility for maintenance can be agreed upon.  Vicki moved to approve the entire project, pending the response from OHAC regarding the table.  Beth seconded.  All in favor; none opposed; none abstained.


Colin requires full approval before he can begin.  He will write up his proposal leaving the exact location of the table open, and give the proposal to Heidi.  Heidi will give him a letter of consent if the proposal is consistent with the committee’s conclusions.



Neal reported on the website.  He has posted the minutes from September through January, along with meeting times and dates.

Neal had prepared several possible items for the kiosk:a header, “Thurston Nature News,” and information about friendly yards, the Adpot-a-Tree program, and flowers list.  Suggestions were made about what would be best to put in the kiosk and when (periodic changes, seasonal interest).  Heidi suggested some “do’s and don’ts.”  It was suggested that we needed more graphic items such as photos of the native plants, birds, etc.  Mike has flower and other photos.  Jim and Heidi have some historical photos.  Neal suggested that the kiosk might need to be ventilated.  David offered to help with that, when the best method is determined.



Mike reported that a burn should be conducted when the conditions are right.  He asked who would like to be called to help or observe; usually it is on short notice.  Several members were interested.  Jim would like to take photos.


Mike suggested a Work Weekend in April.  The third and fourth were chosen, 1-4 pm on Saturday and 2-5 on Sunday.  The usual signs will be put up in the neighborhood, plus Neal will make a few flyers and Heidi will try to get an announcement into the Thurston newsletter if it works out date-wise. 


Mike reported that the threats to specific valuable trees had been removed.



Heidi presented the draft of Goals for Thurston Pond.  They are not necessarily in order of priority.  This document will serve to present the TNC goals to the Ann Arbor Public School’s Environmental and Utilities Services.  The next step will be to develop an action plan.  Heidi will prepare some ideas for the next meeting.  Neal moved to approve the Goals.  Elsa seconded.  All in favor; none opposed; none abstained.


Heidi informed members of the opportunity for people to participate in a water monitoring project sponsored by the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP).  [CLMP is a partnership between the DEQ’s Water Division and the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc. (ML&SA), a nonprofit statewide riparian organization. of the DEQ.]


Heidi noted that mergansers were in the pond.


Purple Loose Strife (PLS)

Neal attended the PLS control workshop at Michigan State and shared some of what he had learned and materials he obtained there.  The beetle project appears to be working in certain areas, and Neal is going to try it for the TNC.  It will require some monitoring.


Neal informed members of an upcoming salamander survey, which could include the vernal ponds in Sugarbush and the TNC.  He also passed out flyers for the River Roundup, a chance to look at creatures in the Huron River on April 17.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:30.  The next meeting will be April 19.