Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

March 25, 2010 (Approved)

In attendance:

Neal Foster, Bill Phillips, Colin Brooks, Barry Johnson, and Tom Edsall.

First we approved the minutes from the November 24th, 2009 meeting, They were approved with a change to correct the spelling of Elsa Stuber's name.

For the treasurer’s report, I report that we had $8553, all with the Thurston PTO. I was asked to summarize the totals in a Treasurer’s report spreadsheet and circulate it with the TNCC. I was also asked to get written confirmation of this number from the Thurston PTO, working with the President (Nikki Bonevich) and Treasurer (Lixian Fan). I was asked to see if we could get a specific line item in the Thurston PTO budget for our totals so everyone would be able to see the amount we had there.

For reimbursements, we voted to approve reimbursing the Van Leers for $55 of water. I reminded the Committee that we have to submit this using the Thurston PTO reimbursement form ( ). We received an annual donation of $300 from the Orchard Hills – Maplewood Homeowner's Assocation (OHMHA), check number 1015. However, it did not mention the Thurston PTO in the “Pay to” form so Neal Foster was going to take it back to OHMHA for that addition.

We set the Thurston Nature Center Spring Work Days for April 10 and 11th, with the City still providing free woodchips. I said I would ask Cub Scout Pack 160 members (of which I am the current Cubmaster) to help out again.

We discussed a volunteer schedule for watering the oak savannah trees planted last year, and we agreed that the trees would only be watered when needed, when the ground is dry, under Mike Conboy's advisement.

Mike recommended not burning the prairie this year, although he did get the permit just in case we had wanted to do that this year.

We discussed issues with “clear cutting” of Thurston Nature Center land on the OHAC property that occurred late last summer. Mike talked with the property owners who wanted to clear brush, and they came to agreement on clearing only non-natives, and that anything beyond selective thinning should be discussed with the TNCC first, per an e-mail of Mike Conboy's dated 12/16/2009. We agreed to update the original 6/14/1993 letter sent on behalf of OHAC and TNCC to remind landowners of appropriate land management on property that belongs to OHAC. Neal said he would recirculate the current redraft of the letter.

There was no update at the the time on our $297,000 proposal to the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore Thurston Pond.

We discussed developing a “No Mow Zone” memo to Randy Trent, AAPS property manager, asking for permission to put up about 8 signs to remind the various people doing the mowing that we do not want the oak savannah area mowed. I shared an example of $10 “Now Mowing – Prairie Plants” signs ( ) that were available.

For new business, we discussed TNCC observation of the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day (April 22, 2010), and I said I would help notify the school website and newsletter. Thurston did celebrate Earth Day, becoming an official Green School and planting a tulip tree transplanted from the TNCC!

We discussed a direct mail campaign for fundraising but decided it was too early for that at the time. We did say that we needed specific goals for a mailing, focused on costed examples that people would want to support, such as tree planting as part of a formal plan, such as getting a representative planted of every regional tree species. Wildflower plantings and oak savannah grass plantings were also mentioned as examples.

We then discussed more about long-range planning for the future maintenance of TNC, including involving the Washtenaw Natural Area Program (NAP). Eberwhite Elementary, for example, involves the County NAP with its natural areas conservation program. Neal got information from the N.E.W. Foundation database on groups that fund environmental and educational outreach, and found 23 of them. Our first investigation of one of them found they did not cover this area, but we agreed to continue pursuing this as individuals and as a group. Making sure we're tied into environmental education was mentioned as important. If we need more information from experts to help with proposals, such as botanical surveys or Phragmites control, we agreed that we can't always expect free advice.

Finally, I said I would follow up with a GIS analysis of the size of the Thurston Nature Center (our website says 24 acres with a 7-acre shallow pond). A quick review of online property records through the Washtenaw County website showed this was approximately correct for the school property plus the OHAC outlot.

Submitted by Colin Brooks, TNCC Secretary-Treasurer,