Minutes of 5/17/04 Meeting of Thurston Nature Center Committee

 

Present: Heidi Koester, Chair; Mike Conboy, Bram & Lia van Leer, Cathy Behrent, Janet Beatty, Jim Breck, Beth Caldwell, Neal Foster, Penelope Moskus, Katie Richter, Dave Szczygiel, and Georgia White-Epperson.

 

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The meeting was called to order by Heidi at 7:02 PM. A quorum (five members) of committee members was present. The revised minutes of the April 19, 2004, meeting as recorded and emailed by Katie Richter were approved.

 

Katie Richter introduced Penelope Moskus, who does watershed modeling and assessment for the Ann Arbor firm Limnotech. Penelope was interested in becoming an active member of the TNC Committee.

 

Communications: Cathy Behrent (cmbehr@comcast.net) said a new issue of the Orchard Hills-Maplewood Homeowners Association newsletter would be coming out soon and she would welcome submission of articles related to TNC. It was suggested that Neal Foster and Bram van Leer might put together an article about the mystery of the disappearing Canada Geese, and Bram and Neal volunteered to do so.

 

Neal reported on his plans for updating the TNC website, (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nealfost/TNC-info.htm)

 

Heidi discussed action on the Three-Part Pond Restoration Document that was sent out to TNC members on May 7. The third part of the document, entitled 'Actions for Thurston Pond', was then approved by TNC Committee vote. The document describes possible actions that could achieve the goals outlined in our previously approved Goals Statement, but does not explicitly recommend a specific solution.

 

Tonight's agenda: Status of the Watershed.

 

Dave Szczygiel commented that Randy Trent (Position Title?, AA School System) has been working on plans to keep snow and storm runoff water on the property of the proposed new high school (in northwest Ann Arbor) as long as possible. This approach might also indirectly help our interest in conserving or even enhancing the amount of water flowing into Thurston Pond from the immediate neighborhood. Randy has been getting copies of all TNC emails, but we don't know to what extent he has had time to read them. Randy has been getting a review of Scott Dierks' Report.

 

Penelope asked what was known about the hydrology of Thurston Pond. She also asked about the purpose and goals parts of the statement and volunteered to coordinate an informal outside review of the 3-part document that Heidi and the committee have prepared. Penelope also asked about funding possibilities. Need to get the 3-part document to Randy well before June 14 voting day for the new school.

 

Neal recommended that we work toward some sort of partnership with Pfizer, Scott Dierks, and Randy Trent

 

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LAND REPORT by Mike Conboy [scanned from Mike's handout]

 

Prescribed Prairie Burn: Thurston Prairie was burned on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 at 5:30 to 7:15 PM. The prescription was submitted to the Fire Department on, February 27, 2004, and a permit was obtained for a March burn when weather and biomass conditions were favorable. Conditions on burn day were checked with the Natural Areas Preservation group for humidity and west wind at (5 to 15 MPH). Phone calls produced 6 volunteers. The Fire Department was notified by phone on the burn day before the fire was set and after it was out. Site preparation in advance included brush cutting and removal of trash, especially paper which creates a danger of spreading the fire to other areas by blowing away. Follow-up work involved removing briars, brush limbs and unburned invasives. Copies of the prescription and permit are available for future reference.

 

Signs for Trees and Flowers: Signs were renovated or replaced for trees and flowers along the path from the bridge around the east side of the pond to the amphitheatre The work was done by a family of three home schoolers using a mobile work bench for printing, wire bending and nailing. They have offered to complete the work on another day.

 

Wood Chip Grooming of Paths: Five loads of chips, (25 cu. yds.) were delivered to two sites. (Yorktown and Prairie) by Ann Arbor Forestry Dept. Five cubic yards were moved by trailer from Prairie St. to the Bluett stairway entrance for better access to the Northeast paths. A total of 50 volunteers worked on Saturday and Sunday and the following Thursday to complete the paths using the chips. Five Cub Scouts and their parents finished the trails on Thursday evening.

 

ADOPT-A-TREE Program: Ten families have agreed to adopt trees in the past month, and fifteen more families hav( indicated interest. Sixteen Brownie Scouts have adopted six trees and have scheduled Monday evening, May 24th to do the work. A small number of endangered trees have been selected for high priority attention. A list of Adopted Trees with family names will be posted in the Kiosk

 

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East Shoreline Naturalization Plan:

 

Erosion Control Project on eastern side of Thurston Pond: Mike, Tom Edsall, and Dan Koester have been building rip-rap structure with large rocks to reinforce the shoreline against erosion by the gentle, but fairly constant wave action at that location. Sixty feet needs to be done, 40 feet done so far. Orchid Hills Athletic Club mowing, which is contracted out to someone, is being done right up to the shore of the pond, an undesirable situation. Some vegetation needs to be left unmowed along the edge of the pond. This raises the issue of how to arrange to have a naturalized "lawn" area inside OHAC's property. Katie Richter volunteered to prepare plan for such a natural lawn and to take charge.

 

Year-end Wrap-up:

 

Heidi reminded us that this was our last meeting (essentially coinciding with the end of the Ann Arbor School System's year) and led a discussion of what we had accomplished:

1. Developed firmer policies and procedures.

2. Increasingly focused on enhancing long-term future of the pond itself.

3. Better appreciation of impact and need to control invasive/nonnative species.

4. Adopt-a-tree and other volunteer programs up and running.

5. Communications new and somewhat updated website, information kiosk.

6. Two Scout community service projects building picnic bench, information kiosk, trail and vegetation cleanup, planting new trees.

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New Business: Lia and Bram van Leer, who live right next to Thurston Pond and have closely observed the birds and other wildlife there for many years, discussed some aspects of Canada Goose behavior and brought up the issue of the abrupt disappearance of whole goose families (parents and goslings) in recent years. For example, Bram noted that a pair appeared on the lawn today with four goslings, and commented that this was about the time that disappearances of individual goose families had occurred in previous years. Neal volunteered to work with Bram on investigating this mystery. Ideas ranged from nocturnal "goose-nappers" to the possibility that geese might suddenly leave TNC of their own volition

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Election of Officers for the 2004-2005 School Year

 

Heidi commented that she has been Chair of the TNC for two years, and suggested there might be other members of the TNC who would like to serve in that capacity. No one volunteered and Heidi--after admitting that she was eligible to run again--was warmly cajoled into doing so and was unanimously reelected to the post. Next Heidi reviewed the duties of the office of Secretary-Treasurer, reporting that Vicki Botek had asked not to be nominated for that office. Georgia White-Epperson, who is secretary for an investment company, volunteered to be nominated. This was promptly done, seconded, and she was unanimously elected forthwith. Georgia also noted that she had adopted a tree (gingko) in the Center.

 

Finally, Heidi asked who wanted to continue serving on the TNCC. All of those present indicated that they were interested in continuing to serve in 2004-2005.

Our next meeting will be held on the third Monday in September unless TNC members are notified to the contrary.

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--Respectfully submitted by Neal Foster, temporary secretary