Ballot Box Conservation: How citizens are mobilizing to protect natural resources

May 10, 2017 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Cambridge, MA United States

Free, offered in English

Watch the Recording

In an era of tightly constrained U.S. federal budgets, state and local funding for land conservation is of critical significance. David Hartwell spearheaded one of the largest land conservation ballot initiatives in U.S. history, which amended the Minnesota state constitution in 2006 to provide $6 billion for land and natural resources conservation over 25 years through a sales tax increase. He will tell the story of the campaign to pass the ballot initiative, highlighting the practical and policy challenges facing private, non-profit and public sector leaders who would undertake similar initiatives, and describe the initiative’s impact over the past decade.

Hartwell will be joined by James Levitt, manager of land conservation programs at the Lincoln Institute and director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University. Levitt will describe the role of ballot initiatives in conservation finance in the United States, drawing on data from LandVote, the premier resource for information on conservation ballot initiatives in the United States, a joint effort of the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance.

A written account of the initiative will also be distributed as a Lincoln Institute Working Paper.


David Hartwell is the 2016-2017 Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the winner of the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award from the Land Trust Alliance. He was a leader in a seven-year campaign to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a 2008 initiative that will fund conservation projects through 2034 through an enhanced sales tax of three-eighths of one percent. The amendment will generate an estimated $7.5 billion for conservation, arts and cultural preservation and parks and trails. From 2010 to 2013 alone, it funded some 65 projects related to land acquisition, restoration and conservation in Minnesota. Hartwell is the founder and former president of Bellcomb, Inc. He serves as president of the board for the Belwin Conservancy, a 1,350-acre sanctuary in Afton, Minn., and on the boards of National Audubon Society, Children & Nature Network, Island Conservation, Conservation Minnesota, Wildlife Land Trust and the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council as well as a number of private company boards. He is a former member of the Land Trust Alliance board.

Jim Levitt is the manager of land conservation programs in the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute, and director of the program on conservation innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University, in Petersham, Massachusetts. In addition, he holds ongoing fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Highstead, a non-profit organization advancing land conservation in New England. Levitt focuses on landmark innovations in the field of land and biodiversity conservation (both present-day and historic) that are characterized by five traits: novelty and creativity in conception; strategic significance; measurable effectiveness; international transferability; and the ability to endure. Levitt has written and edited dozens of articles and four books on land and biodiversity conservation. He has lectured widely on the topic in venues ranging from Santiago, Chile, to Beijing, China, and Stockholm, Sweden. Among his current efforts, Levitt plays an instrumental role in the effort to organize the International Land Conservation Network (ILCN), whose mission is to connect organizations around the world that are accelerating voluntary private and civic sector action to protect and steward land and water resources. Levitt is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM). He was recently named a Donaldson Fellow by Yale SOM for career achievements that “exemplify the mission of the School.”


May 10, 2017
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Registration Period
April 24, 2017 - May 10, 2017
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
113 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA United States
Registration Fee