Minutes of 10/18/04 Meeting of the Thurston Nature Center Committee


Members present: Heidi Koester - Chair, Jan Baty, Vicky Botek, Beth Caldwell, Neal Foster, Katie Richter, Bram van Leer, Lia van Leer, and Georgia White-Epperson


The meeting was called to order at 7 PM. A quorum was met.


Land Steward's Report - Presented by Beth for Mike Conboy
Copies of the report were handed out.  Highlights of the report included:
  Nine new families were signed up for the Adopt-A-Tree program.
  Over 100 trees are now protected and less than 20 trees are still threatened. 

  Education in terms of invasive species, methods of care, and identification of   valuable specimen trees is rapidly spreading.


In the future, we hope to include flowers and Thurston Prairie in the adoption idea.  Next spring we will be able to plant a few missing native species.  A GPS map locating individual adopted trees will be produced and given to each family and new cedar identification signs will be made to replace the aspen signs.


There is a new insecticide for the Emerald Ash Borer but it requires several applications to work.


Neal moved and Beth seconded that the September minutes be approved as read.  The minutes were approved.  Neal will send out the unofficial revision of the May minutes.


Water Report - Heidi and Georgia


Georgia performed the Fall phosphorus test and sent it in.  Heidi asked Howard Wandell (MSU) whether he had A) received the fall phosphorus sample frozen, b) received the results of the spring phosphorus sample, and c) whether we could start doing sediment testing.  She has not received an answer yet.


School District Meeting on 10/11/04 - Heidi


Heidi attended a school district meeting regarding Thurston Pond on Oct. 11. Randy Trent,  the environmental services director for AAPS, chaired the meeting, and it was attended by Thurston Principal Mrs. Manley, another AAPS representative, two architects working on the Thurston school additions, four professionals from the environmental/landscape firm JJR (including wetland specialist Terry Heatley), and Scott Dierks from ALNM, representing the Miller's Creek Study.
JJR (Johnson, Johnson, and Roy) is the landscape architecture and environmental firm that has been hired by AAPS to facilitate Thurston Pond renovations. Per Randy Trent,
the district definitely wants to facilitate some improvement of Thurston Pond.  Heidi presented our TNCC viewpoints and work. As part of the building additions to
Thurston School, the school district is looking at improved management of storm water run-off; they would like to send the treated water to the pond.


Neal asked whether Randy was familiar with what Heidi was presenting.  Heidi answered that he generally was.  Ms. Manley supports us.  Scott Dierks seems most concerned about getting clean storm run off into the pond.


Scarlett got $25,000 to improve their nature area.


Lia remarked that if the berm were higher, the pond would be 6"-8 " deeper. A short discussion of the berm revealed that it was last renovated about 10 years ago by piling pebbles on a plastic lattice.  It has since settled.


Results of September Goal-setting - Heidi


The prioritized goals were 1) pond restoration, 2) water quality monitoring, 3) Adopt-a-tree/invasives, 4) short-term berm fix, 5) OHAC shoreline, 6) turtle task force, 7) enhance communication, 8) pond hardscape, 9) Thurston/Clague relations, and 10) enhance OHAC relations.  Heidi created a table (see Oct. agenda) showing the average ranking, total number of votes, and number of votes in the top 3.  Heidi encouraged those who had rated the turtle task force, hardscaping, and berm restoration high to initiate the projects.


Neal said that he had pulled up his flat sandstone patio and asked whether we could use the flagstones for berm restoration.


Georgia asked when we could anticipate action on Thurston pond.  Heidi said, according to Randy Trent, it would probably take several years to finish.  The building at Thurston Elementary should be finished in 2006.


Vicky will ask Chris Barry (chairman of the Thurston Grounds Committee) whether JJR had drawn up the landscaping plan she had at the fall clean up day.


Establishing a Budget for TNCC - Georgia


Georgia suggested that we set up a budget for TNCC; the committee was amenable to exploring this option. Georgia will talk to Cathy Behrendt (PTO president) about getting funded.  It was suggested that we could get some funds this year from the school discretionary fund.


Neal went out on the peninsula near the berm and found sensitive ferns. The young loose strife, which was sprouting, showed evidence of eaten leaves and lots of new growth as the beetles pupate in July or August.  Neal would like to see more ferns in the nature area.  Beth and Neal can donate some. 

Pond Restoration


Heidi requested that we postpone the vote on the Briefing Book by Tom since Tom was not at the meeting, but suggested that we could discuss our thoughts about the book briefly.  Neal thought that the briefing book was good. Bram had not been aware of the summer meeting between Tom, Neal, and Heidi and was concerned that the group at large did not know about an important meeting.  Heidi explained that Tom had been absent in spring and the meeting was held to update him on the pond restoration progress.  He suggested that they work up additional material to compliment what had already been done.  As a result, Tom wrote the briefing book.  Although Heidi had seen his document before, she was unaware that he was going to hand out his unchanged draft at our first meeting.


Heidi asked the committee whether they want to strongly recommend dredging or just present the material.  Heidi showed the document to JJR at the school district meeting simply as supplemental material.


Neal supports Tom as Tom has a lot of experience in this area.


Bram suggested that we present Tom's information as supplementary and not necessarily as the opinion of the entire committee.  The briefing book idea was an expansion of the initial report.  Bram doesn't want Tom to completely rewrite the proposal. 


An alternative to Tom's document was proposed.  There would be three parts; the initial document, Tom's document exploring dredging option in more detail as an appendix, and a brief introduction to the appendix.  Heidi asked Bram to write the introduction, which he agreed to unless time restraints prevent him.


Submitted by Georgia White-Epperson, 11/11/04