A man and two dogs crouch in a mostly-open green meadow. Tree trunks are visible in the background.

Idaho Conservationist Recognized with National Award

Michael Whitfield of the Heart of the Rockies Initiative Has Helped Protect Iconic Landscapes in the Rocky Mountain West
By Will Jason, Octubre 11, 2018

Michael Whitfield, a conservation leader who has built partnerships among landowners, civic leaders, government officials, and scientists to protect iconic landscapes in the Rocky Mountain West, has been named the new 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.

A native of Teton Valley, Idaho, Whitfield recently retired after a decade as executive director of the Heart of the Rockies Initiative, a partnership of 23 land trusts in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and southern British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. During his tenure, he led the creation of the High Divide Collaborative, which built a conservation vision for the region bordering Yellowstone National Park and attracted millions of dollars in federal funding.

Previously, Whitfield led the Teton Regional Land Trust for 17 years, taught wildland ecology, and worked as a U.S. Forest Service biologist and wildland recreation manager.

“Michael Whitfield’s career is a testament to the power of building coalitions, finding common ground, and engaging the public, private, and civic sectors in large landscape conservation efforts,” said Jim Levitt, manager of the Lincoln Institute’s land conservation programs and co-founder of the International Land Conservation Network. “We congratulate Michael on his exemplary leadership in the field and look forward to his continued contributions.”

As the Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute for 2018 to 2019, Whitfield will engage in research, writing, and mentoring.

Now in their 13th year, the award and fellowship are named in honor of Kingsbury Browne (1922–2005), a Lincoln Institute fellow whose work led to the creation of the Land Trust Alliance in 1982. The award was presented during Rally 2018: The National Land Conservation Conference, the nation’s largest annual gathering of land conservation professionals. This year’s conference took place October 11 to 13 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Previous winners include Will Rogers, head of The Trust for Public Land; David Hartwell, an environmental leader who has helped mobilize billions of dollars for conservation projects across Minnesota; Steve Small, a legal pioneer who paved the way to make conservation easements tax-deductible in the United States; Jean Hocker, a former president of the Land Trust Alliance and longtime board member at the Lincoln Institute; Larry Kueter, a Denver attorney specializing in agricultural and ranchland easements in the West; Peter Stein, managing director of Lyme Timber Company; Audrey C. Rust, president emeritus of the Peninsula Open Space Trust based in Palo Alto, California; Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation; Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society; Laurie A. Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust; Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.