Open Space Conservancy Trust - Minutes Thursday, November 17, 2016
Chair Poor welcomed everyone and acknowledged the volunteers and participants who made the Letterboxing program a success this year, particularly Elizabeth Cross-Nichol, Kim Borden, and Connie Carson. She outlined the work involved in developing the clues and creating the boxes. She thanked volunteers on behalf of Diane Mortenson, Recreation Superintendent. Elizabeth and Kim Borden presented each of the participants with their letterboxing notebooks and a certificate of participation. A short reception with cupcakes was followed by a group photo.
Call To Order:
Chair Poor called the meeting to order at 6:22 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Chair Poor, Vice Chair Westberg, Secretary Christy, Trustee Bender, Trustee Hildebrandt, and Trustee Olson were present. Council Liaison Sanderson was absent. Chair Poor welcomed new trustee Marie Bender to her first board meeting and invited her to introduce herself.
Paul West, Park Operations Superintendent
Alaine Sommargren, Natural Resources Manager
Kim Frappier, Natural Resources Specialist
Chair Poor called for a motion to approve both the July and September minutes. Alaine Sommargren noted that she made a couple of adjustments to the November minutes reflected in the printed packets for the meeting. Trustee Olson made the motion, seconded by Trustee Hildebrandt.
Approve the minutes of July 21, 2016 and September 15, 2016.
Motion passed 6-0
Kim Borden, 7073 93rd Ave SE
Ms. Borden walks the SE Quadrant of Pioneer Park often with her dog. She reported that there has been an increase in horse droppings along the trail that make it difficult to walk through the park with her dog. She stated that the problem is getting worse and that horse owners are not cleaning up after themselves.
Paul West noted that a complaint had also been made on the social media site Next Door. Paul called the stable manager to ask that their staff remind horse owners to pick up their droppings and stated that this is outlined in the City’s animal code. Parks and Recreation staff will continue to follow up with the stables to ensure horse riders clean up after their horses.
Off-leash dog education updates – Paul West
Paul called the Board’s attention to two emails included in the packet regarding problems with dogs jumping on people in the NW quadrant. Paul responded to both emails. Paul reported that he led two walks with dog owners in the NW quadrant at the end of October, the first was attended by nine people and the second by three people. The groups had good discussions. He plans to hold more outreach walks in April when the warm weather comes and trail usage increases by both dog walkers and other users. In addition, Parks and Recreation is planning a series of voice control workshops on Mercer Island. A professional dog trainer will be invited once per month during the summer to learn more about what constitutes voice control. This is another efforts to work with the public about what our animal code means. Paul pointed out that 1,500 copies of the brochure have been published and distributed in various places across the city including the dog spa, City Hall, MI Community Center, park kiosks, and the MI Chamber of Commerce.
Vice Chair Westberg congratulated the staff on the brochure and said that it was an outstanding piece of public education that is user friendly and informative. Paul gave kudos to Alaine for spearheading that project.
Dog signage review – Alaine Sommargren
Alaine presented the revised dog signs for the NW and NE quadrants. Comments provided by the Board and the public (from the QR Code on temporary signs) have been reviewed and integrated into the final draft signs. There were many positive comments from the public about the signs. She asked that the board provide final comments on this version.
Chair Poor called for a motion to approve the signs. Trustee Olson moved to approve the new signs, seconded by Vice Chair Westberg.
Motion passed 6-0
Trustee Hildebrandt would have preferred a gentler tone for the NE sign, but agreed that the sign looks good to him overall and he would approve them. Vice Chair Westberg appreciates the direct tone of the NE sign. Alaine noted that one sign will be at every trail entrance across the park. Trustee Bender asked for clarification of language on the NW sign so that the signs refer not just to the perimeter trail, but all the trails within the quadrant. She suggested that a period be added after “enjoy the park” and start a new sentence “Throughout the park etc.” Regarding the NE quadrant signs, she would like to add “Due to sensitive slopes in the NE quadrant” so that dog walkers don’t get confused about where dogs should be on leash. There was discussion about whether to include the quadrant name on the signs. Trust agreed to use more precise language on the NE sign so it is clear that the on-leash area is in NE only and not the entire park.
Paul noted that technically, Engstrom is not an on-leash dog area. Alaine noted that Engstrom has numerous sensitive slopes. Vice Chair Westberg suggested that we could vote on including Engstrom as an on-leash dog area. Trustee Bender commented that most people don’t differentiate between the NE quadrant and Engstrom Open Space. The board did not put forward a motion to vote on this issue.
Vice Chair Westberg added the importance of responding to ongoing communications from the public regarding dog leash issues. He wants to ensure that any new inquiries or comments from the public are being addressed and that staff are articulating the Board’s path forward on these issues. Paul stated that he is responding to each new inquiry or comment that is made and includes a summary of the activities the Trust Board is currently pursuing to address the public’s concerns. The staff continue to track public comment and thank people for their input.
Herbicide Protocol amendment – Kim Frappier
Kim summarized the staff report provided to the Trustees outlining the proposed change to the invasive tree treatment. The proposal is to move from frilling with Glyphosate to a stem injection method using the EZ-Ject lance with Imazapyr. Kim showed the trust board images of the method being used, the herbicide shells, and the EZ Ject lance itself. She explained the process of stem injection, the advantages to the new method, and addressed questions and concerns from the trust board.
Secretary Christy asked if the trees are allowed to stay in the forest after they have been injected. Kim explained that some trees are allowed to remain standing as a habitat tree or snag, while others may be removed for safety considerations. Staff prefer to leave trees on site to provide nutrients and organic matter to forest soils. Alaine noted that it is also costly to remove large trees as well.
Trustees asked Kim to elaborate on the herbicide shells themselves and she reiterated the description given in the staff report. The shell casings used in the EZ-Ject system are made of cartridge brass which is an alloy containing about 70% copper, 30% zinc and trace amounts of lead (.07%). Copper alloys are widely used in many applications because of their corrosion resistance, particularly in plumbing. To date, there have been no studies on the environmental impacts of Copperhead™ shells. Kim added that the level of lead found in cartridge brass is considered lead free by the EPA. Chair Poor requested that staff inquire what the industry practice is regarding removing the herbicide shells once the tree has died. Are other cities removing the shells after treatment is complete?
Trustee Hildebrandt raised a concern that some people may collect the shells to get money for the brass. He stated that he would like to change the language in the herbicide protocol regarding signage. Instead of only having signs up during treatment, he would like to have staff create permanent signs for the kiosks describing what the shells look like so that park visitors know not to touch them.
Secretary Christy asked how many trees we are looking to treat in the park. Kim and Alaine explained that most of the big hollies and other invasive trees have been treated in Pioneer Park and that where we are likely to see the most use of this tool is on the frilled stumps that are resprouting. The treatment at Pioneer Park would not be on the order of magnitude that was originally done when holly treatments were first performed. Alaine noted that the 2008 Forest Health Plan calls for a second round of invasive tree treatment knowing that one round of treatment would not kill all trees and we would continue to see seedling regeneration.
Kim added that small seedlings not suitable for injection would continue to be cut and painted using glyphosate or grubbed out if the entire root system could be removed. Chair Poor asked that we add Engstrom Open Space to the herbicide protocol. Kim will make all necessary changes in the protocol. All trustees were in favor of the proposed changes.
Trustee Hildebrandt moved to approve the herbicide amendments to include the use of EZ Ject to treat invasive trees and add suggested wording to include permanent signs describing the methodology to inform the public. Seconded by Vice Chair Westberg.
Motion passed 6-0
Pioneer Park map update – Alaine Sommargren
Alaine presented the newest iteration of the kiosk maps to the new Pioneer Park and Engstrom Open Space Signs. Eight signs will be replaced at each of the wood posts across the park: one at the entrance to Engstrom, one in SE quadrant, one sign in NE quadrant, and the rest in the NW quadrant. Alaine noted that the bench icons were removed because they cluttered up the map. Trustee Bender pointed out a missing dog bag sign in the NE corner of the NW quadrant, which Alaine will correct. Trustee Westberg suggested using language for on-leash dogs in the NE quadrant could be the same as for the dog signs. Chair Poor asked if we would be changing the paper maps. Alaine stated that we will continue to use the current paper maps. Paul added that the kiosk map is graphically dense, the information would not fit on the smaller paper map, and is more difficult to change.
2017 Work Plan - Alaine Sommargren
Alaine explained that this is the time when the Trust Board lays out its work plan for the coming year. She will bring back an updated version in January that the Board will be asked to approve. This is also used as part of the report that will go to City Council.
Chair Poor suggested revisiting the dog issue in May 2017 to assess how the new strategies worked etc. Trustee Westberg asked if the Pumpkin Walk should be integrated into the 2017 work plan. Alaine explained that staff had no role in the event whatsoever and that it was completely volunteer lead. The reason we found out about it is because the group asked for an event permit. Chair Poor suggested sending the volunteers a letter of thanks and asked Secretary Christy to send the organizers a letter. Trustee Hildebrandt suggested sending a thank you for this year and see if the event continues through the volunteers and then decide in 2018 if the Trust Board would like to get involved in some way in the future. Secretary Christy will get the volunteers contact information and send them a thank you.
Paul West suggested we add an analysis of impacts to the park to the 2017 work plan. We need to do an official assessment of impacts to trust properties rather than use anecdotal information. Vice Chair Westberg suggested that staff take the lead on this analysis and agrees that it would be useful. We need data on how park users are impacting the park. The Forest Health plots provide a lot of good vegetation data, but don’t necessarily capture all data needed to answer all of our questions. Paul thinks this is worthy of discussion in 2017. Chair Poor agreed that this should be put on the work plan for later in 2017 and all agreed to put on the July agenda.
She asked how other open space programs area assessing this kind of information and saw a presentation by the ROSS group that Forterra was involved with. She will send us the link to this for further review.
Alaine explained that the staff will pull together a draft of the City Council report for the Trust Board to review. The council report will be presented in March. There are examples of this report in the welcome packet that each Trustee receives when they join the board.
Pumpkin Walk – Alaine Sommargren
The Pumpkin Walk was a success. The volunteers cleaned up after their event. The only request we made was that they use LED lights and not real flames. A lot of people attended and the high school was involved to carve pumpkins.
Quadrant Reports – Trustees
Chair Poor explained to Trustee Bender that Trustees get assigned to a quadrant to report on at each meeting.
SE Quadrant - Trustee Olson and Trustee Hildebrandt
No report at this time.
NW Quadrant - Vice Chair Westberg and Secretary Christy
Vice Chair Westberg said the trails are holding up well despite the rain.
NE Quadrant – Chair Poor
No report at this time. Trustee Bender will join Chair Poor for reports in this quadrant
Next Meeting – Chair
The next meeting is scheduled for January 19, 2017