Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) – Core Working Group Meeting Minutes

June 3rd, 2010 (Revised & approved)

In attendance:

Neal Foster, Mike Conboy, Tom Edsall, Barry Johnson, Colin Brooks, Beth Caldwell

First we approved the minutes from the March 25th, 2010 meeting, They were approved with a reminder from Tom that having them ahead of time would be very useful.

Mike Conboy gave his land steward report. The prairie looks in good shape and is recovering. There is no blue stem yet, but plantings are coming up nicely. The blue stem transplanted to next to the oak trees survived. The oak trees look fine. At the time, the situation with over-zealous clearing of OHAC property next to Georgetown homeowners appeared to be under control at the time, but sending out a reminder letter was recommended. Mike worked with the most overzealous landowner who appeared to have learned what was invasive and what wasn't. One other family that Mike, and Margaret Weiss, had talked to were interested in taking out invasive buckthorn. We discussed putting plantings eventually in cleared areas, possibly trees. Tom said that would should develop a more formal plan for plantings there & elsewhere. An Eagle Scout candidate expressed interest in filling in Michigan trees that we don't have that should grow in our area, and is supposed to come to us for input. Mike straightened some knocked-over trees. Girl Scouts planted some left-over prairie seeds in the Thurston Prairie, and the Conboys planted the rest around the oak trees.

Next, Neal said he had the order ready for the No-Mow signs for $55, covering 5 signs and $5 shipping. He also had an updated check from OHMHA with their $300 donation from December 2009 that mentioned the PTO. He reminded us we still owed the Van Leers $55 for their 2009 oak tree water.

Tom gave the Water Steward report. He said that bullheads and fathead minnows have been seen in the pond. He recommended no more stocking until the pond has been improved. Wood ducks and mallards were seen on the west side of the pond.

Neal said that with Millers Creek having a drain designation, it should be possible to apply for state revolving funds through the Washtenaw County Drain Commission.

Next we talked about the Thurston Pond berm where Michigan Hardscapes was the sub-contractor to JF New. We discussed JF New being under obligation to the school district to fix the berm problems. We agreed that a one-page letter summarizing our priorities for the berm, including having a clay core and being 2-feet higher were priorities so that the pond could function better for storm water retention and be stronger. Tom agreed he would edit and circulate a note that he would send to Randy Trent. Mike suggested that we might be able to get a 1-foot higher berm. A temporary improved sand bag fix was suggested if no action appeared to be forthcoming.

Next we discussed what may be an increased phosphorous issue in the pond. With some big algae blooms appearing, this could be from the increased amount of water the pond is getting from the new Antietam drain connection. We discussed if we should be testing the water, measuring flow, and relating what we're seeing to data from the North Campus weather station.

We discussed our unsuccesful GLRI proposal and that Neal had requested a debriefing (which we did indeed have on 7/23/2010, see ).

We also endorsed the idea of a memorial tree for long-time OHMHA member Anita Jones. And then we talked about an idea that a neighborhood resident had suggested about having baby pheasants released at TNCC, but we agreed that Matthei Botanical Gardens was a better idea!

We discussed Vicki Botek's e-mailed concerns about littering around TNCC. Mike says he empties the trash barrel near the bridge and the school system empties others.

We then discussed the pond dredging issue including the idea of Richard Rainer being able to help dredge the pond, possibly with Dick Stuber helping to get his equipment (drag line / drag bucket) moved over. We agreed we need a formal plan for this idea.

I gave the Treasurer’s report, saying we had $8553 parked with the PTO checking account, not including the $300 corrected OHMHA donation and the $55 water reimbursement to the Van Leers. At this point I had filed the paperwork to get our own checking account as a sub-account to the PTO account. We agreed that the TNCC would need to vote to approve spending, and the Secretary-Treasurer would write the checks. We then adjourned.

Submitted by Colin Brooks, TNCC Secretary-Treasurer,