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From the Director

Michael McKechnieExecutive Director Michael McKechnie
By building partnerships among diverse organizations, focusing on creative programming, and establishing the right priorities, Executive Director Michael McKechnie has managed the successful growth of four vital nonprofits and served on the governing boards of a number of research, fundraising and civic organizations where he has provided governance, financial, and strategic planning oversight.

Dear Friends,

Save the Garden

3 Ways to Show Your Support

Sign the Petition >>
and share your comments

Attend Government Meetings
like the Recreation and Park Commission Meeting this Thursday, March 4th at 4pm in City Hall (Room 416).

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Zellerbach Garden
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Dawn Redwood

We can all be justifiably proud of the progress our Botanical Garden has made in the last year. The strength of the 55-year partnership between the City and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS) was never more evident than in the successfully concluded Pathway project that returned 8,600 square feet of pavement back to garden, made the pathways accessible for thousands of those with mobility disabilities, and made enjoying the collections a much more intimate affair. This project was jointly funded by the Recreation and Park Department — with Proposition 40 funds — and the SFBGS with privately raised funds.

All of these funds were raised in better economic times. The fiscal crisis that our nation and city faces is hitting every agency and the Botanical Garden faces damaging cuts. If we don't do something to increase our revenue, the the City will be forced to layoff critical employees, and the Garden itself will begin to deteriorate. San Francisco would lose the unique urban oasis that the Garden provides, as much of this beautiful space could be destroyed and invaluable collections would be lost.

On March 4 there will be a crucial meeting held by the Recreation and Park Commission to consider a proposal to implement a $7 admission fee for non-residents. While most botanical gardens throughout the country charge a much higher entrance fee for all admissions, ours would be a very reasonable amount for non-residents only. All San Francisco residents, SFBGS members, and school groups would still enter the Garden free of charge everyday all day. There would be graduated prices for out-of-town seniors and children, and designated "free days" will be provided.

Virtually all botanical gardens in the United States charge all visitors an admission fee, many more than $7. It is the key source of survival for botanical gardens. This Garden, with arguably one of the finest collections on the planet, has made its way without visitors contributing to its welfare. In this economic climate, that has become completely unworkable. As the Recreation and Park Department struggles with multi-million dollar budget gaps, the SFBGS, who for 55 years has supported the Department's work here, is also facing some severe budget challenges.

We need your help to combat these budget cuts and keep the Gardens operating. I urge you to visit our home page. There you will find a petition asking the Recreation and Park Commission to approve this reasonable fee and save the Botanical Garden. You can also help by attending the Commission meeting on Thursday, March 4th at 4 pm at City Hall to show your support.

I know that a fee of any kind is not ideal, and that some of you may not agree with the proposal. But I submit that the Botanical Garden needs your help now more than ever. Without a reliable, sustainable source of revenue, we will face drastic cuts that will lead to the destruction of the garden as we know it.

Remember, the Commission meets at 4:00 PM on Thursday, March 4. Be there if you can, and please sign the petition. It will only take a small amount of effort on your part but will have a big impact on saving the Garden we all love so much.

With sincerest appreciation for your thoughtful support,


Michael McKechnie
Executive Director, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society


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