Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

January 12th, 2012 in the Thurston Elementary Teacher's Lounger

In attendance: Barry Johnson, Neal Foster, Colin Brooks, Beth Caldwell, Mike Conboy,

The minutes from the November 11th, 2011 meeting were read and approved with a change to “plants” in one line to emphasize our interest in eventually putting in prairie plants in the Thurston Oak Savannah.

Mike Conboy gave the Land Steward's report. He said the warm weather has helped work around the pond, including cutting down 100 buckthorns in three places. Dead ash trees have been falling and have been cleared out of the way. There are several muddy, wet areas around the pond. He worked with the OHAC Pool Committee on cutting invasive trees near the pool. David Vallem's Eagle Scout project on creating a nice new trail area with new Michigan tree plantings on the west side of the Nature Center was completed and he donated the extra $148.55 he had raised to the TNCC (which Colin has since deposited in our PTO sub-account). Mike said this had been a great family project, the “best in 40 years” that he had seen. Barry suggested sending in a note about this (and other) Eagle Scout projects to the Thurston Newsletter (the Heron Herald). The Land Steward's report ended with a comment that we should take the sprouts off the bottom of the oak trees in the Thurston Oak Savannah.

Next we talked about the Sustain our Great Lakes (SOGL) Community Grants request for pre-proposals in the $25k to $150k range. We talked about invasive Phragmites control and the January 11th webinar that Neal & I had attended virtually. Based on that webinar, our Phragmites area is too small to be of interest to SOGL; they fund control of larger areas of invasives for the $25k minimum. We would need a bigger project, possibly on more AAPS properties. Beth said she would contact Dave Szcygiel to see if there were other problem areas, especially on school property, that could be part of a larger project. The need for before Phrag/after Phrag invasion photos was mentioned. Phragmites control would require a licensed applicator that the school system would have to approve. Colin mentioned the newsletter he gets that helps provide information on this area. Also, the “A Landowner's Guide to Phragmites Control” put out by the Michigan DEQ ( ) is a useful source of information. We agreed that if we're putting in a proposal we need to involve the Thurston PTO sooner. We also discussed reviving the dredging proposal that we put into GLRI in 2010 and trying to get a Phragmites control plus dredging pre-proposal together. This could help with the pre-proposal since a SOGL priority is on cutting the levels of P (Phosphorous) entering the Great Lakes. Colin said he would draft versions of both for discussion at the next meeting. Pre-proposals are due Wednesday, February 15th.

We discussed the TNCC Progress Report that Barry had outlined. Yes, we still want to do this, and Barry and Neal will continue to be the leads. It needs to be e-mailed out the Thurston Pond e-mail list.

Neal mentioned the idea of fish stocking in the spring.

We briefly talked about what is happening with the drain in front of Thurston Elementary, and how water is not draining effectively. The school system wants it fixed and no work on a possible new rain garden will happen until it is fixed.

Finally, we set our next meeting for Thursday, February 9th, 7:30 – 8:30 pm, at Thurston again, most likely in the Teacher's Lounge across from the library. And Colin mentioned the need for a new Secretary-Treasurer again!

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson, (v.2012.02.04)