Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes April 4, 2013

In attendance:

Tom Edsall, Neal Foster, Beth Caldwell, Greg Jagst, Frank Commiskey, Colin Brooks, Emily Eisbruch.

First we approved the minutes from the December 20, 2012 meeting. Next we shared the Land Steward’s Report that had been shared by Mike Conboy. Work days were planned for April 13th & 14th. The Thurston Prairie doesn’t need to be burned this year. The fence was fixed for the oak savanna, and galls were removed from the oak trees. All the trees continue to survive. For trail maintenance, more of the dead ash trees have needed to be removed during this past winter. 3 loads of chips were requested (and all were delivered) for spreading on the grails during the work days. About 50 of the 60 trees planted last year survived, despite the summer 2012 drought.

The Eagle Scout projects continue to look good around the Thurston Nature Center. Garlic mustard will need attention in May. It should be put in plastic bags and sent to the dump after being pulled. The extractigators have been useful for pulling Buckthorn over large areas. Litter barrels continue to be helpful for litter control.

Tom, as our Water Steward, led a discussion on revisions to the Thurston Pond restoration plan. The main “Characteristics of Thurston Pond…” table needs updating to reflect current conditions, including reflecting the Bluett Street water input and the repaired berm. The restoration plan should server as a vision statement for what TNCC wants to have done. We are trying to focus on restoring the pond to a Clearwater pond. We may be looking at $200k - $250k to restore the pond, similar to what we put in our 2010 EPA proposal. We need to make sure we understand the community needs for the Nature Center, and ensure it’s a better educational resource. Frank was talking with the contractor who did the Leslie Park Golf Course pond work (Scott Spooner – Spicer Contractor) and the work there is almost done; that could be a resource of information for us.

Colin asked Mike Conboy to build from Tom’s edits to the restoration plan so we could discuss this further at our next meeting and try to finish up the revisions soon. We spoke of the need to reach out to people like Randy Trent and Dave Szczygiel. Emily recommended that Frank & Colin go visit the Drain Commission, Harry Sheehan, to talk about the pond and its restoration needs. We felt like we had renewed momentum towards restoration the pond and should take advantage of this, including significant outreach. For fundraising towards pond restoration, we should reach out to the public, including old time residents, private foundation, and current neighborhood people.

We finished with a general discussion. We agreed we were interested in more Eagle Scout-type projects around the Nature Center. Neal discussed planting water lilies. A neighbor of mine expressed concern about finding 3 dead squirrels and a dead raccoon in the Nature Center. We discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages about being part of the Thurston PTO. Sharing 501c3 non-profit status is a big advantage to fundraising, and being a separate group would require us to form a new 501c3.

We do need to reach out more to current Thurston PTO parents so they can get to know about the Thurston Nature Center more and get new members. We discussed thanking the Eagle Scouts who completed their projects more formally. Emily, our new webmaster, reviewed the new Thurston Nature Center webpage (still at ). Emily was working with Mike on updated trees page including documenting all the Michigan trees in the Nature Center. Neal offered to share tree photos. Mike would help with tree ID.

During the meeting, Colin reported that we had $8406.40 in our TCF bank account which is a sub-account of the 501c3 Thurston PTO. We agreed that keeping our funds with the PTO is good for now as we look at raising more funds.

Submitted by Colin Brooks, TNCC Secretary-Treasurer, [email protected] (v.20130613)