Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

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

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

The minutes from the February 9th, 2012 meeting were approved. They were sent out shortly before the meeting this time.

Mike Conboy gave his Land Steward's report. He talked about the small side berm that had been improved with some left over blue clay and broken discarded concrete left by a contractor was working well. It will still overflow before the main berm does. The path on the east side of the pond should be moved at some point because it has been getting very wet – maybe 6 feet up from its current location. Spring work days were upcoming that following weekend (April 14th & 15th, 2012), meeting at Yorktown Drive on Saturday and Prairie Circle on Sunday. Chips were obtained this year so there were lots to distribute along the Nature Center trails. The March 10th, 2012 prairie burn was quite successful. Bill Phillips and Madeline Conboy took photos which Colin said he would put on the TNCC web page. The prairie biomass was thicker and dryer than last year helping the burn. The Ann Arbor Fire Department charged $240 for the burn permit for the first time ever. Saturday was a good day for the burn with more volunteers & school being out. Two paw-paws and 2 sassafras are alive, all planted relatively recently. Georgia's persimmon tree is coming up from the root.

Beth said she would be taking Thurston Elementary 3rd Graders around the pond on May 14th, 16th, and 17th to look at wildflowers and birds. Mike was scheduled to take the 2nd Graders around on May 1st – 3rd, particularly to look at trees. We were not sure if letter writing was going to happen this year.

Next we talked about Phragmites control around the pond, as this invasive reed has been spreading throughout the pond edge over the past few years. We had identified invasive Phragmites control as a priority at our January and February 2012 TNCC meetings. In February I had talked with Mike Appel of Appel Environmental Design who had said that our amount of Phragmites was likely to cost in the $500-$1,000 range to control. However, several subsequent attempts on my part to meet or talk with Mr. Appel were unsuccessful, so we missed our chance for 2012 control when I did not contact additional licensed contractors who might be able to do this instead. For the cost, we discussed the idea of going 1/2 and 1/2 with the Ann Arbor School Board. We anticipated needing School Board permission as well, and talking with Randy Trent was considered a good idea. The Huron River Watershed Council was proposed as possibly being interested in this issue as well, and maybe the Millers Creek Action Team (MCAT).

I shared that John Behrendt would not be doing an Eagle Scout project after all with the TNCC.

Next we talked about the state of the pond outlet. It was suggested and agreed on by the group that the current emergency overflow outlet is too high. The pond has about 6” of freeboard, based on the measuring sticks that have been put in. Each inch is about 170,000 gallons of water. The Antietam Inflow stops flowing soon after rainfall. It was said that “The pond system is almost working.” - more water is coming in and with the repaired berm, more water is being held. This is better of pond life and birds. They appeared to be fewer ducks and geese this year in the Spring. Great Blue Herons were seen & were nesting on the “island.” Lots of painted turtles have been seen. There is a lot more potential now – this had been the first winter with the berm operating properly. [Note: Obviously we didn't know about the drought of 2012 that was about to hit the area and cause the pond to mostly dry out!!]

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson, (v.2012.10.18)