Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 (Approved version)


In attendance:

Neal Foster, Mike Conboy, Tom Edsall, Colin Brooks, Beth Caldwell, Bill Phillips, Bram Van Leer, Lia Van Leer.


The minutes from the March 20th, 2009 meeting of the working groups were approved (without changes).


Mike Conboy gave the Land Steward’s Report.  We had 20 people show up to the Saturday April 4th workday (including four families from Cub Scout Pack 160) and 22 people show up on Sunday April 5th.  10 people worked on adopted trails while the largest parts of the crowd spread the wood chips.  This year, we did not burn the prairie, although Mike had obtained a permit.  There are advantages to skipping a year so long as brush & briars are controlled.  Mike opened up a new secondary trail that connects openings to 73 trees adopted by 22 families. Wildflowers are growing well in open areas. Summer clearing work will start soon!


Next we discussed showing at the June 5th Ice Cream Social the 1967 “We’re on our Way” video that features Lady Bird Johnson and Thurston Elementary kids turning the ceremonial first shovel for establishment of the Thurston Nature Center.  Neal said he would follow up with this year’s Ice Cream Social chair after Colin forwarded him the contact.


We spent most of our time discussing the then-upcoming planting of the 20 oak trees planned for Saturday, April 25th at the north end of the Thurston Elementary property near the end of Yorktown Drive.  The trees were due to arrive on Thursday, 4/23 from Possibility Place Nursery.  Digging of the tree holes, by AAPS personnel, would happen on the Friday, 4/24.  Four species of oaks were purchased using the Michigan DNR Community Forestry Grant – chinquapin oak, burr oak, swamp white oak, and white oak.  The white oaks were planned for the somewhat drier southeast area with other oaks scattered in the rest of the area per Tom’s revised planting plan, with swamp white oaks in the wettest areas. Tom had repainted the 20 planting spots, although as a group we decided to move tree “B” to the “C8” spot to avoid being too close to the existing tree at the north end.  Lia Van Leer asked if an approximately 15’ strip next to their fence could still be mowed.  The TNCC group felt this was possible, with the rest of the oak savannah going unmowed as it is converted to an oak savanna over time.  The OHAC pool kindly agreed to let use their water on planting day.  The Van Leers were amenable to using their water in the future so long as we installed an inexpensive water meter to monitor water usage.  The trees would also have tree gators eventually, to hold up to 20 gallons and more slowly release water to the tree roots.  The trees would be 6’ to 8’ tall and include root bags.  Staking would also be needed to comply with DNR tree planting guidelines.


Bill Phillips then discussed future pond restoration work.  He is trying to arrange a pre-application (for restoration funding) with John Sallee (sp?) from Michigan DEQ.  We are hoping to get the per-permit visit fees (of about $1,000) waived by MDEQ.  I offered to create a map showing the neighborhood, with labeled roads and an aerial photograph, to help.  Restoration points that need addressing include water quality issues nitrogen and phosphates, and where would any dredged material be put?  The next round of grant cycles is in a year.  The eventual goal is to possibly get dredging work donated by a firm that might be able to take advantage of current tax benefits.  A joint permit application would be needed first.  We agreed to continue this conversation at the next TNCC meeting.


Submitted by Colin Brooks, TNCC Secretary-Treasurer,  

(v.2009.08.30 – revised version)