Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

October 18th, 2012 in the Thurston Elementary Library

In attendance: Bram Van Leer, Lia Van Leer, Frank Commiskey, Emily Eisbruch, Mike Conboy, Colin Brooks, Barry Johnson

The minutes from the previous meeting (that was on April 12th, 2012) were approved.

Mike Conboy gave his Land Steward's report. We had chips to spread on all 3 sides this time – the first time we've had this. The Eagle Scout project on Prairie St resulted in 30 new trees being planted. Mr Flynn, a neighbor, watered them this summer. There was about an 85% survival rate. We effectively have nursery areas, where trees like paw paw, sassafras, and persimmon grow; we now have 68 of the 72 Michigan trees. We lost a new dogwood, a dawn redwood, an eastern wahoo (although 2 new ones were found) – it was a very dry summer. For buckthorn control, it is a good idea to focus on knocking off the ones bearing fruit. Mike has access to a new pulling tool, the “Extractogator” (!), which is available for borrowing. It helps remove invasive bushes and trees, especially buckthorn. The Thurston Prairie had nice flowers, but not bluestem. Prairie dock is doing well after being transferred to the oak savanna. The oak trees in the oak savanna are doing fine without watering.

Next we talked about the 2 maps of the Thurston Nature Center are known to exist. One is in the brochure box. There is a 2nd map, with GPS location data, of which about 50 trees were labeled. This map needs bringing up to date. Emily volunteered to work with Mike on making a GPS-based Google Maps version that we could share through the TNC website. At this point it was mentioned that Terry Wiseman likes helping her adopted trees. For the improved map, Mike has a paper version and the Natural Areas program may have a computer version.

Colin reported that we have $8406.40 in our PTO sub-account as of the October 18th, 2012 meeting.

Next we had a pond restoration discussion. Frank said he is interested in helping TNCC take a more aggressive initiative, focused on new fundraising, and communicating with interested parties. He asked if we had a vision for pond restoration. Colin and Mike both mentioned the “Restoration of the Thurston Pond Ecosystem” plan available on the TNCC website at that had been generated by the committee after much discussion and committee input. It was last revised in 2005 except for one map addition in 2009 to describe a revised dredging plan ( Colin said he would take the existing Web-based document and put it into a Word document so that it would be easier to share (which he did, and sent it out in November to the Thurston Nature Center email list as a PDF so everyone could have access to it). A question was asked if we could learn from the Scarlett-Mitchell experience. Jane Lumm, new city councilperson, is interested in the pond as well and took a lot of notes after talking with Bram and Frank at the Fall OHMHA Festival. Frank said he has worked with Peter Pollock, a landscape architect. The effect of the very dry summer of 2012 was discussed, which helped show that the pond is not really deep enough. Getting Randy Trent involved was mentioned. As Millers Creek is now a county drain, it was asked if that could help with fundraising, but apparently this designation does not include Thurston Pond. It was asked if our pond restoration plan was part of the larger Millers Creek plan.

Phragmites control was also discussed as a potential 2013 priority. This needs a new effort, with a larger group helping out. We should be sure to tell the PTO about our plans.

Bram asked if the Extractogator could be used to remove some of the vegetation blocking various view around the pond. Colin suggested focusing on some starting places. Mike volunteered to help open up some areas, starting with one area to be determined. Finally, I told my summer 2012 story of finding a small fire that had been started in the Thurston Nature Center by parties unknown!!

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson, (v.2012.12.27)