|Watch Out For Alligators|
The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge covers 3,621 acres, with over 20 miles of trails and wooden walkways over bayou-like waterways
Waterways where, as you see on the CAUTION sign, you may come upon an alligator. Or two.
When I first moved to Texas I lived closer to the FWNC & R than I do now. Back then I fairly frequently frequented the FWNC & R. And I've visited quite a few times since I moved further away from the FWNC & R.
I have not been to the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge since April of 2006.
Because the City of Fort Worth started charging an entry free. This I thought was an asinine thing for a city with pretensions of being the Envy of the World, to be doing.
I had been to the FWNC & R many times where I saw moms and dads with little kids, having fun looking at the Prairie Dogs and the Buffalo. These often seemed like families with finances which likely did not allow mom and dad to take the kids on fun trips to Yellowstone or Disneyland or Grand Canyon.
Having park amenities in your town, freely available to everyone, is part of what makes a great city GREAT.
And then yesterday, I read the following in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram....
The center has an operating budget of $664,776. It netted $39,885 from charging a fee at the park entrance and saw more than 45,000 visitors enter the park last year.
The city started charging the fee in 2006.
How much does it cost for admission you may be wondering?
From the FWNC & R website....
$5 Adults (13-64)
$2 Children (3-12;under 3 FREE)
$3 Seniors (65+)
$1 Discount per person (with Military ID)
So, mom and dad and 3 kids in the 3 -12 range can get to see the alligators for $16.
When I first learned that an entry fee was to be charged I wondered how much the cost of the ticket booth would be and how much it would cost to pay someone to take the money.
From the Star-Telegram article we learn the Center has an operating budget of $664,776. That is money that has been collected from you Fort Worth taxpayers. Taxes paid so the city has money to pay for things, like parks, for the benefit of the tax paying citizens.
Charging the entry fee netted only $39,885 last year. I'm assuming that net is after factoring in the cost of collecting the money.
There were more than 45,000 entry fee paying visitors. Let's say the average entry fee paid was $3. A $3 average would bring in $135,000. That is rather heavy overhead to end up netting only $39,885.
Let's take the operating budget of $664,776 and divide that number by the 45,000 visitors. That gives us a total cost per visitor of $14.77.
So, the City of Fort Worth is paying $14.77 per visit to the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge.
How many visited annually prior to a fee being charged?
Why not remove the entry fee, since it costs such a ridiculous amount to make that puny net of $39,885 and make money by other means?
Popcorn for a buck a bag at the Visitor's Center? Rental canoes? Maybe special events like the Concerts in the Garden that take place in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Surely some means could be found to easily raise $39,885 a year other than charging a ridiculous entry fee.
I had not discovered the Tandy Hills, which is only 4 miles from my abode, back when I still semi-regularly drove to the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge.
I wonder why the City of Fort Worth isn't charging an entry fee to the Tandy Hills. I think there easily could be a total of at least a 1,000 people who hike the hills annually. Some of those would be multiple visits from the same person, though.
I'd need to get a season's pass.