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Thurston Nature Center News of June-July, 2015


Greetings - Thurston Nature Center Neighbors and Friends

My apologies - somehow June escaped me without having a chance to send out the newsletter.

June is one of my favorite months….especially since moving to Michigan 30 years ago

“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade”

~Gertrude Jekyll

It will also be a month never to forget….On June 11th (2015) at 12:20 AM  - - the AAPS-School Board approved the expenditures requested for the TNC-Pond and Wetland Restoration Project.

With the help of the AAPS funds (Sinking Funds) and the TNCC-PTO treasury (funds so kindly donated by the extended community) - - -


As we roll into July I can only think of my patriotism and oh yes the mosquitos – “I guess it is the nature of things”..

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

On a personal note  - - further than all the gratitude of getting the financial backing…… I am so touched by all the emotional support and the love shared by so many for this beautiful site and its mission.

It has taken the core of this TNCC-PTO team approximately 10 years to finally be able to renovate our pond -  they cannot wait to start.

On behalf of all the members and friends of the Thurston Nature Center

Thank you,


Chair TNC




 “WE ARE ON OUR WAY” - - The Thurston Pond and Wetland Restoration Project

·       The Ann Arbor Public School Board has approved the funds required to issue a construction contract to Anglin Civil, as well as an engineering/construction administration contract to ECT (Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.)

§  Total funds allocated (2015-2016 sinking funds budget) for these two tasks are $130,000

§  You can check out an article on one of the late night meetings with the AAPS-School Board at

·       Moving Forward

§  Restoration efforts associated with this project have already started and are moving forward. There is a lot to do besides the actual construction work. We are on site almost every day including the weekends. Work has commenced with the tasks of obtaining the required additional permits, the widening and clearing of affected trails and adjacent areas, moving memorial benches, ordering equipment, etc….

§  Anglin Civil will soon start the mobilization, and shortly we will see them arriving on site as they stage the construction equipment and access to the pond just west of the OHAC parking lot.

§  Our first major construction task will be to drawdown the water in the pond. This will include the need to control and route future water intake into the pond. We anticipate, and with some support from Mother Nature, that this task will take approximately 1 month. Unfortunately June 2015 was one of the wettest in recorded history -- and by far the wettest of the last 15 years!

§  If all goes well with the drawdown of the water, by the second week of August we should be able to start the “re-contouring” of the pond, “restoring and upgrading” the outlet, moving dirt to repair, reinforce, and extend the existing berm, and re-establishing the nesting island.

§  Our goal is to be finished by the end of September - - - the MDEQ permit mandates that we complete all work by the 30th of Sept.

·       Thanks to Sondra Bobroff and our Huron High School summer intern (Eldon Wilderman), we have set up a Thurston Nature Center - Pond and Wetland Restoration Project Blog, where you can find the latest news, updates, and progress reports on our restoration efforts as well as opportunities to come help and participate. Feel free to check it out at

·       Sub-Committees have started planning the restoration of the aquatic and wetland plants as well as the fish, amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife. The goals will be to improve the quantity, variety, and diversity of many of our species. If you can and want to help us please  join this “labor of love”  - - just contact Frank at

New Thurston Nature Center Website

·       Many thanks to Sheila Voorhees (EMU-Intern) and  Derek Warren of Arbor Printing – both are diligently working to design and create our new Website for the TNC. Our goal is to have the site up and running by the end of this October.

·       The site map and design have been completed and we are now looking for volunteers to help provide content. If you want to help and get involved in providing content let me know - - - we could definitely use your help - - just contact Frank at


Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden

·       Christopher Svinicki (EMU-Intern) has started to get his hands dirty at the Butterfly and Hummingbird Rain Garden. Working with the TNC Land Steward Jim Vallem he has already improved the hydrological conditions and added some additional plants (thanks to Beth Caldwell). He is planning to implement a new trellis to replace the old backstop (thanks to Dave Glover for removing it), and providing posts with rope to define the boundaries of the garden, etc…..


Vernal Pond Pool Basin

·       Have you seen the clearing south of the berm? This is to re-establish our Vernal Pool Basin. Thanks to the efforts of James Dennis and Mike Conboy the restoration of this natural community/ecosystem will provide additional habitats to our nature center. Many of our “herps” will be moving to this revitalized ecosystem.

 Oak Savannah

·       Continued efforts to eliminate the existing non-native grasses, and plant of native grasses and forbs will once again commence . Our goal is to create a typical, native grassland understory (short-grass prairie). Thank you to Jim Vallem and to the Troop1-Boy Scouts of America (led by Denis Sorel) team.


Kiwanis-Thurston 5K Run/Walk

·       Many thanks to the Kiwanis Ann Arbor Morning Edition and the Thurston Elementary PTO for sponsoring and hosting this tremendous event. While the weather reflected a typical Michigan spring the turnout was fantastic. Stay tune….we might be doing this again next year!!!


Vandalism, Theft, Arson, and Shenanigans

·       All of us are troubled and frustrated by the current elevated levels of vandalism that have taken place at the TNC and surrounding neighborhoods (private residences, parks, commercial business, schools, and pools). Reckless, willful, or malicious destruction of property is not something new to the TNC and/or Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, it comes at a time of re-energized efforts to restore the TNC and the re-kindling of our commitment and support of its mission. Concerns are being expressed and discussed.

·       “Understanding the factors that contribute to our problem will help us frame our own local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses” ( We all suspect the same causes but differ on how to solve the conditions.

·       While the Ann Arbor Police have been notified, for all practical purposes there is very little they can commit to doing without the support of the community. It falls on our shoulders and becomes our responsibility to help improve the situation. In that regard, Jack Cederquist (President-Orchard Hills Maplewood Homeowners Association-OHMHA) has taken the initiative to organize a group of community leaders, and revitalize “Neighborhood Watch” so we can develop a plan for fully implementing it’s organization into our neighborhoods. We need the eyes and ears of the community to help us catch these perpetrators as well as the heart and love to help them change their ways.

§  “Other issues which will need further discussion leading to action plans, include encouraging neighbors to watch for and appropriately report suspicious behavior and actual incidents, getting feedback from the police as incident investigations proceed, citizen use of surveillance cameras and offering rewards for information leading to identification of perpetrators, and police-public school interaction to work with students who may be at risk of committing acts of vandalism.”

·       We will not concede or slow down our efforts to restore the TNC, but rather move in the positive direction at a faster and stronger pace. In many ways we are fulfilling our mission by trying to promote and foster student, community, and family, interactions and relationships. We want to direct these misguided individuals to do something that is good rather than the alternative.


GREEN-STEAM and For 2015-2016 Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Programs at Thurston

·       School is out and student summer vacations have stared. At the TNC we keep on going and our committee has already started to review what we did in 2014-2015 and create new and improved ideas on what we want to do in 2015-2016. All to support the school’s STEAM initiative and carry-out the mission of the TNC. 

·       Many thanks to all the support provided by the parents, students, and the fantastic teachers and staff at Thurston. With the tremendous effort of Mary Sheaffer-Manthey and cooperation of all we were able to launch (2014-2015 school year) a record number of project based learning (with lesson plans) experiences at Thurston’s Nature Center.

·       Next school year (2015-2016) Thurston Elementary School will officially provide Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Programs (

“The expansion of Project Lead the Way Launch Program into elementary schools at every grade level is a large step forward in ensuring our AAPS students have exposure to the foundational STEAM skills including problem solving, design thinking, and creativity beginning in kindergarten,” (

·       The Thurston Nature Center Committee will be there to support and encourage this initiate. If you want to participate and help - contact

 Volunteers Needed

·       Want to get involved, have a hobby that perhaps could involve the TNC, but…… not sure what is needed - contact Frank -

·       We are in desperate need for volunteers to help in a variety of different areas – for example

§  Developing, launching, and using different media (i.e. outreach programs, creating & scheduling events, maintain newsletter/website/Facebook page…etc…)

§  Championing (stewardship) one of our 10 ecosystems

§  Help design interpretive signs and kiosks

§  Exercise with us – cleaning up brush piles, clearing/rescuing trees,  and getting rid of invasive

§  Landscape designing of main entrances and amphitheater

§  Education – work with the GREEN-STEAM team

·       If you have your own wish let us know




TNCC Monthly Meeting - Open to the public - - all interested in the TNC!

o   Open meeting……your ideas, suggestions, opinions are always needed and very much appreciated

o   We are trying to find a new location for our meetings - as the schools are closed for summer vacations

o   Stay tuned as we are trying to have a meeting within the next 2 weeks!


August 15th – Boy Scouts – Workday at Oak Savannah


September 26th – Thurston Nature Center Stewardship/Workday – Sponsored by National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and Toyota

o   Come join us 9:00am to 2:00pm - -

o   Participants will assist in supporting  Thurston Pond Nature Center – in preparation for the pond restoration


September 27th  – OHMHA (Orchard Hill Maplewood Homeowners Association) Fall Festival

o   Have fun – get acquainted with all your neighbors

o   12:00 to 4:30 pm (rain or shine)

o   At the main entrance to the Thurston Nature Center - On Yorktown (at Georgetown), next to OHAC Pool

o   Live Music from Local Musicians

o   Children games, scavenger hunts, face painting, and plenty of food and drinks

o   “Hunters of the Sky” – live “birds of prey” demonstration sponsored by the Leslie Science Center

o   Live Pond Critter explorative display from Thurston Pond

o   And much-much more - - stay tune for further information and details

o   Want to help organize……please feel free to contact Frank -



For people interested in staying in touch with Thurston Nature Center

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We recognize the need for more awareness and want to reach out to all who want to be more involved in meeting new friends, exchanging ideas, and information on not only how we can improve our current TNC conservation and restoration challenges, but on how to expand our efforts in providing an outstanding educational and fun environment for our schools and our community.

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Thanks to all….for your donations and overall support.

Because of you…we have regained the momentum, energy, and desire to keep the purpose and misson of the Thurston Nature Center (TNC) alive. 

It is very much appreciated.

Contact [email protected] and/or call Frank at (734-369- 0992)

Stay in touch + Get involved + Pass the word on + Create awareness