Pinson’s Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is seeking $500,000 in public donations to avoid having to close — a possibility that managers say is more likely than it ever has been.
The 466-acre preserve, which hosts more than 130,000 visitors per year, is seeking the funding to offset operating costs and to construct and staff a new classroom pavilion. The new pavilion, says preserve manager Charles Yeager, would allow Turkey Creek to become more financially sustainable in the long-term.
“With this, we would be able to move the operation into more sustainable, consistent funding from educational programming, events, and weddings,” Yeager says. “Without this funding, though, we would not be able to move forward with the operation.”
Closure, Yeager says, has always been “a looming possibility” during the preserve’s nine years of operation, due to the lack of consistent funding that it receives. The City of Pinson provides roughly a third of the park’s annual budget, and the Department of State Lands provides some small maintenance funding — but the rest of the park’s operational costs depend on donations and fundraising.
“Many people just assume that the preserve is receiving all of the funding it needs from the government or other sources, but it is just not so,” Yeager says. “It just happens that, as of right now, the situation is certainly scarier than it ever has been… I would not say that the sky is falling just yet — I am still very optimistic that people will step up and help us all avoid that threat — but it certainly could happen.”
The fundraiser — which is currently happening through Birmingham-Southern College’s website — has approximately eight months left, but Yeager says the preserve hopes to raise a majority of that before the deadline. “If we wait eight months, it will be too late,” he says.