Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

February 9th, 2012 in the Thurston Elementary Teacher's Lounger

In attendance: Neal Foster, Colin Brooks, Mike Conboy, Tom Edsall, Jim Vallem, John Macorkindale

The minutes from the January 12th, 2012 meeting were approved. They had been send out several days ahead of the meeting.

Mike Conboy gave his Land Steward's report. Mike had submitted a request for chips and the Natural Areas Program (NAP) said yes, we could have 3 loads this year (after getting none last year). Mike applied for a burn permit for a March 2012 burn in the Thurston prairie area. We've generally done one every couple of years. The burn permit ended up costing us $240.00 – which came as a surprise because we hadn't been charged in the past. Mike discussed a new trail head to help with access to the peninsula trail (west) to avoid crossing the outlet. A lot of buckthorn has been cut & the “dog barrels” have continued to be emptied. Mike said the system he has works well & it only takes about 20 minutes per barrel to empty one.

Neal talked about the pond is getting better with more diverse species. Golden shiners would probably make it now, and he is going to look for a source. Bluegills haven't made it – Tom stocked about 150 over the years. Muskrats & mounds have been spotted by Neal.

Next we talked about TNCC priorities for the upcoming year and the possibility of going after a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant again. We discussed control of the aggressively invasive Phragmites reed, possibly in collaboration with the Huron River Watershed Council. Working on public outreach & education came up, as did having another go at getting financial support for pond dredging. Millers Creek, which Thurston Pond drains in to, is now a county drain and eligible for the state revolving loan fund. Neal said he would contact Harry Sheehan of the Water Resources Commission for more information. I said he would get a quote on controlling the Phragmites. Later in February I talked with Mike Appel of Appel Environmental Design and he said our amount of Phragmites around the pond would take less than $1,000 and potentially closer to $500. After hearing this, I recommended not going after a NFWF grant this time around because they are more for larger areas & at least $25k projects.

I briefly mentioned my recent meeting with Laura Rubin, Ric Lawson, & Paul Steen of the Huron River Watershed Council to discuss mapping & restoration priorities for the area. HRWC has focused more on invasive aquatic species control so far but they expressed interest in talking with me more about Phragmites mapping & control (and potentially other species) in the watershed.

We discussed the Thurston Green Schools Committee request for topics for another letter writing campaign to support the Thurston Nature Center. Last year the 3rd grade kids wrote letters to the Ann Arbor School Board to encourage them to support fixing of the broken pond berm. This year we ended up suggesting another letter campaign to the school board encouraging them to support controlling of invasive plants around the Nature Center, which would be helpful when getting rid of Phragmites. Mary Manthey from the Thurston PTO was the primary contact person for this year's letters and I sent her a message on 3/8/12 saying “It would be great if the kids could write letters about how they hope that the school board will help make sure that Thurston Pond does not get taken over by invasive plants, and to thank them for supporting this great Nature Center that the school system owns.”

We talked about the condition of the berm some too. Another line of bags to help protect the berm has been placed along with some additional sand bags.

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson, (v.2012.04.12)