Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Botanic Garden Recovery Effort

I received the following email from the Botanic Garden:

Dear Captain Haley,

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has sustained extensive damage to our living collections, lost several buildings and currently has limited ability to operate due to power and other utility outages. Staff are working hard to get the Garden back to normal operations and are in need of an immediate infusion of cash primarily to replace gardening equipment and vehicles, all of which were lost in the fire.

To donate, please click on the Jesusita Recovery Campaign link below, or if you would prefer, checks can be sent to SBBG at 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

Since our normal communications are down, you may reply to this email and I will respond as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your support of the Garden,

Gina Benesh
Vice President of Development

This was my response:

While I do want to support the Garden in its recovery effort, I don't want to make a cash donation only to find it is primarily being used to finance bloated administrative salaries and perks. We need to see an effort being made by the Garden to restructure itself. Things that made sense last week will no longer work in the post-fire environment.

For a bare minimum I'd like to see the productive plant personnel re-hired, the Director's salary at least temporarily reduced to $85,000, and the Vice Presidents for Finance and Marketing reduced to consultant basis with volunteers performing most of their functions. How about it...can we work together on this?

Edit: I received this response from Ms. Benesh:

I am very sorry, these things are entirely out of my hands. Changes of this sort come from the Board of Trustees. I am very sorry there is not more I can do than assure you these donations are going to replace equipment.

...and also this letter from Nancy Johnson, VP for Marketing:

Santa Barbara, CA - The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden's Jesuita Fire losses include all horticultural equipment used to tend the Garden's sixty-five acres of living collections and managed landscapes. Although a full inventory has not yet been completed, Director of Horticulture Andrew Wyatt said that losses include all power and hand tools, trucks, bio-fuel 'gators', and a new tractor.

Stored in the Gane House, a large Craftsman-style home that has served as the Garden's Horticultural Center for the last several years, equipment was lost when the Gane House was destroyed by fire in the late afternoon of May 6. One shovel, a favorite of Mr. Wyatt, was found intact in his unscorched office.

As the Garden's equipment needs are specialized, it is seeking cash donations to purchase new equipment for Garden clean-up, maintenance, and re-planting. Donations can be made at http://bit.ly/hKdFs.

Although much of the 'heart' of the Garden--its magnificent Meadow, Manzanita, Arryor, and Teahouse Exhibits--remain intact, it did suffer much destrustion in other areas. These include most of the riparian corridor, Porter and Pritchett Paths; sections of the Desert and Redwood Exhibits; the historic Campbell Bridge; the Redwood Treering Exhibit; and the Director's Residence.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden remains closed until further notice. Communication systems are inoperable.

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