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Budget Crisis Threatens the Arboretum 

Trillium blooming in late March in the Witt Winter Garden.

Over the past two years, the University of Washington has lost more than $132 million in state funding, or roughly 30 percent of its state appropriation. And sadly, more cuts are on the way! If the Governor’s proposed budget for 2011-13 passes through the legislature, the UW will have lost more than 50 percent of its state appropriation in just three years.

In February 2011, UW Interim President Phyllis Wise sent a letter to the state legislature addressing the issue and listing potential budget cuts at the university to meet the state’s targeted funding reduction. One of her proposed cuts is to “reduce or eliminate funding for the Washington Park Arboretum.”

“This would be a tremendous blow to the Arboretum,” says Foundation Executive Director Paige Miller. Currently, the state provides about $300,000 per year in funds for the maintenance and care of the plant collections in the Arboretum—roughly the same amount that the Foundation now provides for maintenance, as well as for the children’s environmental education program.

“We are endeavoring to learn how deep the proposed cuts actually will be and how we can minimize them,” continues Paige. “We will let you know through our website and email as soon as we have better information.”

In the meantime, the Foundation is mobilizing in several ways. Recently, the Foundation Board sent a letter to Phyllis Wise urging her to maintain funding for the Arboretum. We are also working to raise more funds to support the care of the plant collections, and working on the creation of a new Unit of volunteers to care for the Pacific Connections Garden. This new unit, together with existing units and volunteers—as well as the Day of Caring corporate volunteers, the Qwest Pioneers, and the Wells Fargo Green Team—will play a vital role in the collective effort needed to sustain the Arboretum. Please help us in our mission by volunteering your time, becoming a member of the Foundation, or making a donation.