Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

Nov 21, 2013

Thurston Nature Center Committee (TNCC) Meeting Minutes

November 21, 2013

In attendance: In attendance were Barry Johnson, Tori Melindez, Beth Caldwell, Mike Conboy, Frank Commiskey, Jim Vallem, Mary Manthey, Jeff Gainer, Colin Brooks, Michael Tucker, Bo Bunnell, Emily Eisbruch, Lia Van Leer, and Bram Van Leer.

The minutes from the September 26, 2013 meeting were approved.

First we started with a Water Steward report this time. I talked some themes that Tom Edsall had shared with me via email, that we havea conceptual restoration plan in place, and what we need now is a document in place to solicit technical engineering information and cost information. Barry said he had talked with ECT and Limnotech about the engineering information we need to go with a proper cost estimate of our restoration plans, focused on a better water outlet to prevent flooding / berm erosion and pond recontouring to improve pond habitat. ECT provided information that include a small manhole for the improved outlet with the ability to lower the water table. Recontouring would address sediment laden with phosphorous that could be appropriate disposed of on site to keep costs down. Don Tilton from ECT said we could lower the water table and convert the P to a form not as easy for spring takeup as an alternative to recontouring, but this would need give us a deeper water habitat for pond life. The 2008 JF New restoration plan has more information on P in it. There were 130,000 ppm in the sediment and 238 ppm P in the water – the P is in the sediment! We need a consistent effort focused on improving water clarity that is better for wildlife and reach out more to others as part of fundraising. We may be looking at $150k-$200k in needs. Once we have all the engineering information we think we need, we can send it out to 5 to 6 consultants to get feedback and cost estimates for the design phase.

I talked briefly about the invasive Phragmites reed control effort. We're waiting for do a later winter / early spring March/April burn (with appropriate permission) with David Mindell from Plantwise LLC that

did the control last September. I need to contact Tim Grusczcynski - gruszczy@aaps.k12.mi.us – about collaboration on the burn.

Frank and Barry met with the Millers Creek Action Team (MCAT). They asked the City Stormwater representative (Jerry Hancock) if Thurston Pond restoration was part of the Millers Creek Action Plan – the Pond could be added to the city's capital improvement plan! Harry Sheehan from Washtenaw County Drain Commission said Millers Creek is not a county drain. The City capital improvement plan will have a Fall 2014 submittal with spring 2015 approval, with funding in 2016/2017, but Thurston Pond is unlikely to be a priority.

There as a motion to move forward with Barry dealikng with 5-6 consultants to get their engineering estimates and related information that was unanimously endorsed.

We talked briefly about the need to reach out more to “lessons learned” people, for wildlife help and other topics, from Scarlett-Mitchell people, Skyline, and Traver Creek.

We talked about our extended outreach efforts. We had 103 likes on Facebook as of 11/21/13, 330 on our new newsletter email list, we've been working with the school more to great reception, especially on the recent vegetable gardens, pond tours, and adopt-a-trail efforts with 4th and 5th Graders. Plans to work with 3 classes at Thurston on creating a habitat at the TNC were discussed, and Frank mentioned working with the new Thurston Elementary compost group. Supporting a Thurston teacher appreciation month (night) was suggested, possibly in May in collaboration with Sysan Wyman, PTO organizer for that. Working with Dr. Kovacs at EMU for interns that can help us was also talked about. OHMHA was brought up to speed at a 11/20/13 meeting. With OHMHA, OHAC, and the Thurston Nature Center Committee all trying to raise funds, there may be some opportunity for collaboration.

Bram and Lia Van Leer led a discussion on pond views. They described how if you can't see the pond, you can't appreciate the pond. What can we do to improve views so that people can see our local pond? I said the Phragmites control effort would help, but cattail (Typha) control was not usually done in ponds, which is the main problem for the Van Leers view. They shared a 1990s photograph and talked about the growth on shore and making sure trees weren't blocking the view at the main area near the pool.

Mike Conboy gave a quick Land Steward's report. The Oak Savanna is in good condition and got more mulch. The last brush was removed rom the north from David Vallem's Eagle Scout project area near Prairie Cout, with 7 more trees planted. The Thurston prairie area is ready for a spring 2014 burn. Tree labeling is half complete with the new signs. Buckthorn and honeysuckle control will continue over the winter.

Respectfully submitted,

Colin Brooks, TNCC Chairperson, cnbrooks@mtu.edu

 

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