Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

August 1, 2013

In attendance: In attendance were Neal Foster, Frank Commiskey, Jim Vallem, Mike Conboy, Lia Van Leer, Bram Van Leer, & Colin Brooks.

The minutes from the June 13, 2013 meeting were approved.

Mike Conboy gave the Land Steward's report. Highlights included putting up of 6 new trail signs put up by the Vallems & progress on planting native flowers in part of the Oak Savanna. The prairie is doing well with about twice as much biomass as last year, with many flowers. The Vallem family led a project to chip parts of the brush piles to manageable sizes in David Vallem's Eagle Scout project area. Nesting for ducks and geese has not been good this year, probably due to flooding. Cavity nesting birds & branch nesters are doing well. In the Adopt-a-Tree program, about 150 special trees have been protected this summer, with removing of vines, buckthorn, falling limbs, etc. Little watering was needed with most of the summer being relatively wet to that point. 30 aluminum tree signs were designed & ordered by Emily Eisbruch to help label the trees, including the common name, scientific name, and identifying characteristics.

The updated pond restoration plan was discussed briefly. Colin agreed to send out the final version as a PDF (and did so). Later we discussed how we needed a good estimate of what it will take to recontour the bottom of Thurston Pond. Barry and Frank have discussed trying to get this. We agreed it would good to have priorities – let's fix the control outflow first. Talking with Don Tilton at ECT was suggested. Can we talk with groups and get a free initial, rough estimate? We can use the updated Thurston Pond Restoration Plan & a good estimate to solicit funds. Perhaps we fit into the Non-Point Source (NPS) MDEQ grants opportunity – we should look into this more.

We briefly discussed the invasive Phragmites reed control efforts. At that point, we had an upcoming with Tim Grusczcynski, new AAPS Grounds Director (taking over from Randy Trent) on August 9th to discuss approval of the Phragmites project and related issues of concern, such as the eroded berm, our interest in an improved outflow, and partially-fallen tree limbs hanging over the trail (the meeting went very well – more on that during our September meeting!).

We discussed the Millers Creek Action Team (MCAT) meeting that Barry Johnson, Beth Caldwell, and Frank Commiskey attended (Thurston Pond forms part of the headwaters of Millers Creek, so we are part of the watershed). Two U-M people, Jason Frenzel, and Jerry Hancock from the City of Ann Arbor were there. Barry, Beth, & Frank provided lots of Thurston Nature Center input. We wanted to know if Millers Creek had actually been designated as a County Drain, making it eligible for some restoration funding, and if so, how much. A subsequent search of Millers Creek web pages was inconclusive.

We also discussed our involvement with the OHMHA Fall Festival coming up on Sunday, September 29th, from 1-4 pm. Frank discussed getting the Bromley neighborhood more involved. Having a donation box at the Bromley Neighborhood games was discussed (and done).

We agreed to meet early in the school year to keep up our recent momentum.

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson,