Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Headshot of Samanth Zuhlke

We’re happy to share that professor Sam Zuhlke’s article, “Strike While the Iron is Hot: Land Trusts, Temperature Anomalies, and Agenda Setting for Local Open Space Referenda” has been published in the journal Nonprofit Policy Forum. Co-authors include School of Planning and Public Affairs alum, Emani Brinkman (urban planning class of 2023), and Juniper Katz.

According to the paper, despite substantial progress on understanding the influence of nonprofits in the policy process, the role of nonprofits in local agenda setting remains under-examined. Policy for land conservation is a key plank in climate change mitigation strategies making the role of land trusts in agenda setting for land conservation votes an important topic. Prior studies demonstrate that temperature anomalies increase the likelihood that climate change policy appears on state political agendas.

The authors propose that land trusts play a critical role in facilitating this connection at the local level. Temperature anomalies create a policy window which contributes to the likelihood that conservation measures make it onto the political agenda. Combining temperature, land trust presence, and local conservation vote data from U.S. counties from 2009 to 2019, the authors find that both temperature anomalies and the presence of land trusts increase the probability that a land conservation measure will appear on the local political agenda. Further, they find that the effect of temperature anomalies on the probability of a vote taking place is conditional on land trust presence within the county.

The findings advance existing nonprofit theory on ways in which nonprofits engage in the policy process and hint towards promising avenues of future research. The findings also provide practical evidence for practitioners and hold implications for how local policymakers can leverage existing organizations to implement climate change policy.