Meeting Minutes 01/17/2006

Friends of Dicken Woods General Assembly

Minutes for the Tuesday, January 17, 2006 meeting at Dicken Elementary School

Attending were Mason Barr, Brian Cressman, Jack Eaton, Inge Ferguson, Jason Frenzel, Stephanie Hunter, Tom Ivacko, Naela Jenkins, Amanda Koeller, Theresa Leite, Harvey Mieske, Rayelene Mieske, Burt Perry, Nan Perry, Leslie Westbury, Rich Westbury, Marian Williams, Doug Wood.

Tom Ivacko chaired the meeting and opened proceedings at 7:00p.m.

Minutes were accepted from the 9/26/05 meeting.

Grant Activities
Stephanie Hunter reported that the Bat Zone presentation from Cranbrook Institute had been enjoyed by the 3rd and 5th grades. Tom Ivacko read a letter from a 5th grader expressing thanks to FoDW for bringing the program to the school. Many other appreciative letters from the students were on display at the meeting for reading. The presentation from the Raptor Center will be coming up soon for the 4th grade and in the spring the 2nd graders will begin work on their wildflower garden and their nature inspired quilt or wall hangings. The 1st graders will continue their bird studies and will have a visit from a wildlife expert concerning animals in the woods.

2005 Fall Event
Tom recapped the Fall Celebration, thanking those involved, especially Doug Wood and Donald McNair (Eagle Scout) for building the beautiful footbridge at the SE side of the woods, as well as Stephanie Hunter, Naela Jenkins, and Amanda Koeller for their work in organizing the event.

Budget Report
Tom Ivacko reported that the FoDW bank account currently has about $2,489 and that the Steering Committee has begun discussions to prepare a budget plan to manage those funds. The budget will be reviewed further at future general membership meetings. Summarizing finances for the year just ended (2005), Tom noted that the year 2005 began with $644 in the bank account carried forward from the year 2004; FoDW raised $869 at the garage sale in June 2005; FoDW received $150 in donations in January 2005 resulting from fundraising efforts in Fall 2004, and raised another $2,026 during the Fall of 2005 resulting from the fundraising emails and hardcopy letter mailed in Nov. 2005. Thus, total funds available in 2005 were $3,689. Total expenses in 2005 were $1,200, broken down as: $25 for the website; $1,175 for grants to Dicken Elementary ($1,000 of which were for the year 2005 Dicken School grants awarded in Fall 2005 and $175 of which were expenses related to the Fall 2004 grants that did not actually hit our bank account until January 2005). Thus, for 2005, total funds ($3,689) less total expenses ($1,200) left a carry-forward balance of $2,489 on 1/1/06.

Tom also stated that we expect to receive a few additional donations, including a grant from the Ann Arbor Women's Farm and Garden club, through the efforts of Heather and Bob Palmer.

In response to Mason Barr's questions, Tom said that the FoDW Steering Committee is beginning discussions about spending priorities for the new budget, and is eager to hear input from the general membership. A number of items have been identified for discussion within the steering committee, including:

  • a minimum of $1000 toward Dicken School grants in the Fall of 2006
  • funding a "DW" section of the Dicken School library (the School librarian has already identified desired books and other materials for environmental education resources
  • adding signage in the woods, for both directions/maps and items of interest
  • adding trees and bushes
  • renting a wood chipper, and removing invasive species
  • creating a junior master gardener program for students at Dicken.
Discussion followed, and Tom indicated that in conjunction with our survey results from last year, removing invasive species seemed like a clear consensus priority among the membership. Doug Wood concurred, stating that since the ash trees will be gone, removing the invasives is even more important than when the survey was initiated. Inge Ferguson also indicated the junior master gardener program would be not require extensive funding support. She indicated that time is really more of an issue than money, and that she has a friend who is a master gardener and may be willing to come and help.

Woods and Maintenance
Jason Frenzel was introduced as the City's Natural Area Preservation (NAP) Division Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. Jason indicated that when we remove buckthorn, it is important to simultaneously lay seed that will compete with the same growth levels. That is, if we don't help preferred new species grow, we will find new invasives growing again instead.

Doug Wood stated that he is currently working on the draft DW management plan, in which we will address these issues and ensure that we stick to long term activity-planning objectives. When a draft report is available it will be posted on the website and will be presented for review and discussion at a general membership meeting. Mason Barr, Burt Perry and others concurred that it is important to think what we want the woods to look like in 10, 15, and even 30 years from now. Doug said that there is a lot of good stuff in the woods right now, and so we should consider focusing on cutting back and cleaning out the invasives.

Mid-winter Walk
Stephanie Hunter said that the walk dates had been confirmed for Tuesday, February 21st with a make-up weather date of Wednesday, February 22nd if the 21st doesn't work. She asked for volunteers to help with placing and lighting the lanterns. Tom indicated that the Steering Committee will vote on expenses for this event, via email. FoDW intends to provide cookies, hot chocolate, and tools to light the lanterns. The event will be advertised through the School, and Brian Cressman suggested that everyone let their neighbors who don't have kids at Dicken Elementary school know about the event to spread the word throughout the neighborhood.

Spring Woods Work Days
Doug Wood stated that we have a commitment from both the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts to help out with spreading wood chips. He said that it would be very beneficial to recruit more groups that would be willing to help. Doug said that we're aiming to have our first big 2006 work day in April or May (in time to catch early invasive growth such as the Dames Rocket patches on the west trail loop), and then the NAP work day on Sept. 30th, 2006. Jason Frenzel (NAP) also indicated that NAP has worked with schools in which the elementary school had a "chip-spread day" on Friday, in which each grade spent 1 hour in the woods. They then followed-up the weekend with a scout troop chip spread. With this program, they usually met their goals. Doug Wood stated that he has discussed similar ideas with Mary Ann Jaeger, and that she has indicated interest in these types of ideas in the past.

Future Fundraising
Naela Jenkins said that she has contacted Max & Erma's and found that if we were approved, we could possibly reserve 2 nights during in one week, and we would receive 20% of the dinner sales from people who submit our flyer to their server. Brian Cressman suggested putting it toward a specific grant item, like materials for the library at Dicken. Rich Westbury suggested that we advertise the event at the Winter Walk being held in February. Stephanie suggested the possibility of a silent auction in the future.

Officer Positions
Tom noted that in May of 2006, there will be a vote for officer positions for 7/1/06 - 6/30/07, and that we should all think about nominations for the next meeting.

New Business
Doug Wood stated that in the most recent NAP Newsletter he read, there was an article about local volunteers. Of the 5000 volunteer hours reported city-wide, 10% or 500 hours came from FoDW volunteers. Doug indicated that NAP newsletters are always great, and give our organization great recognition.

Doug Wood also stated that Jason Frenzel has a work-order in with the city, to remove the guard rail at the end of Dicken Drive, but that it is awkward to move and not a priority, so it may still take a while before it's gone.

Jason Frenzel discussed the emerald ash tree replacement strategy, stating that street trees are the highest priority, and then wooded areas. He also stated that NAP is positive about the process, because it lowers the density of trees and reduces the possibility of fires in densly forested areas. Jason also said that the City of Ann Arbor is working on offering a discounted tree program for those residents who would like to replace the areas where there was an ash.

Meeting adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

Minutes by Amanda Koeller and Tom Ivacko