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Minnesota’s Road to a Legacy Amendment

How We Created and Passed a Constitutional Amendment with Vision, Partnerships, Strategy, Promotion, and Perseverance

David Hartwell

May 2017, English

This is a story of how a small group of people can make a huge impact for conservation. It is the story of how Minnesota went from being a state that was making modest but declining investment in its natural environment and cultural heritage to becoming a leader in the field and the envy of other states. It is a story of a multi-year effort to gain the support of the legislature and the voters to change the Constitution of the State of Minnesota.

There were many people who played a role in the effort to pass the constitutional amendment in Minnesota, known as the Legacy Amendment that supports Habitat, Clean Water, Parks, and Cultural Heritage. The amendment, passed in 2008, provides new funding of about $300 million annually, of which about $240 million is for conservation. Over its 25-year life—unless, as we hope, the measure is extended—the measure will, without adjusting for inflation, provide about $7.5 billion in funding, of which about $6 billion will be used for conservation.


Conservation, Ecology, Environment, Environmental Management, Environmental Planning, Land Use, Natural Resources, Open Space, Stakeholders, Water