Security at the Garden for Rare and Endangered PlantsSan Francisco Botanical Garden's collections contain many rare and endangered plants, but there is no security at the Garden. Many plants are stolen each year. Many other important plants stay in the nursery and cannot be planted for fear of theft. An admission fee will increase security and go a long way toward protecting valuable collections.
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If you have been reading the local newspapers carefully over the past few weeks, you will have seen, in articles about the City's budget shortfalls, parenthetical notice of the prospect of the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department instituting an admission fee – for the first time – at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. For this concept, we are asking your support.
The Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society wholeheartedly endorses the idea of a modest admission fee for visitors; in fact, we see it as vital to the future of our beloved institution and to its mission. Among comparable botanical gardens such as the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the U.S. Botanic Garden, U.C. Berkeley Botanical Garden – and even among much smaller gardens – San Francisco Botanical Garden is virtually alone in its failure to ask for modest financial support from its visitors. Recreation and Park's proposal suggests an admission fee equal to that charged by the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden – i.e., $5 per adult. This seems more than fair.
As with other botanical gardens and museums, the admission fee will be waived for school groups and members; additionally, free days will be regularly scheduled.
A modest admission fee is important for several reasons, the primary being the significant financial help admission fees will give to Garden maintenance, security, and interpretation and educational programs. Additionally, since the admission fee will be waived for Botanical Garden Society members, there is abundant evidence that our Society membership will increase – which ultimately means the base of support for the Botanical Garden will increase. This is vital for the long-term health of the Garden.
The cultural renaissance in Golden Gate Park is extraordinary – with the new de Young Fine Arts Museum, the restored Conservatory of Flowers, the new Academy of Sciences. Your San Francisco Botanical Garden is very much a part of this flowering of beauty, knowledge and education.
Among all the great botanical gardens of the world, your Garden can realistically aspire to be the most exceptional – with the potential to display a greater diversity of rare and endangered plant species than any other place, year round. As the Earth's biodiversity is increasingly threatened, your Garden is a place where these species are protected and displayed – many in simulated natural habitats. In short, botanical gardens are museums, and their collections must be protected, maintained, and interpreted to educate the public, particularly about sustaining our planet.
San Francisco Botanical Garden exists because of a half-century of private philanthropy and public generosity; this is a great achievement. And now, we believe it is appropriate to ask our visitors to add their support to help continue our important mission, to protect the collections and conservation education programs.
We invite your comments on this change, one which is important and completely within the norms of botanical garden operation throughout North America. As always, we are grateful for your caring support for this beautiful place.