Current Projects

Current Projects

UT Program on Collaboration
Collaborative and Transparent Community Decision-Making
Sustainable Grazing on Public Lands
Watershed Partnership Support

UT Program on Collaboration

Collaborative efforts in Utah are occurring with increasing frequency, often providing low cost and creative solutions to environmental and natural resource issues which are scientifically, politically, culturally, and emotionally complex. The Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDR Program), in coordination with The Langdon Group and others, are developing the three-part Utah Program on Collaboration.

Part 1: Forum on Collaboration—held on November 19th, 2015—provided an opportunity for state and federal decision-makers to learn from each other by sharing experiences and challenges with collaborative problem-solving. Participants received tools needed to identify opportunities for collaboration, implement best practices, as well as monitor efforts to evaluate effectiveness.

Part 2: The first Dialogue on Collaboration will be held in late Spring 2016. Please email us if you’d like to receive notice as dates and topics are set.

Part 3: EDR Program is developing a Short Course on Effective Natural Resource Collaboration, which is open to participants from a wide range stakeholder groups. The first session will be held June 16-17, 2016. To register, please email us.

For more information, please click here »

Collaborative and Transparent Community Decision-Making

Community Decision-Making in the Town of Rockville (the “rural environment”)
EDR Program has been working with the Town of Rockville, located just outside Zion National Park, to help their small, rural community make collaborative and transparent decisions about land use, planning, and growth. This included designing and facilitating a Rockville Community Forum to help community members process the findings of a recent Town Survey and to engage in productive conversation about how to deal with contentious local planning issues. We also designed and facilitated a Community Forum on Culinary Water to help residents learn more about their culinary water supply and demand, identify key information needs, and discuss key community concerns. Currently, we are helping Rockville residents work together to explore options for restoring or replacing a historic bridge in town.

Regional Planning Western Zion Corridor
Zion National Park and the gateway communities on the western side of the Park have experienced considerable pressure from regional growth, increased national park visitation, water shortages, and related impacts on social and environmental resources. EDR Program is partnering with the University of Utah’s Ecological Planning Center on a multi-year action research project that aims to provide regional planning support while studying the effectiveness of collaborative scenario planning as an approach for enhancing regional resilience. The first phase of the project, a situation assessment, is currently underway. The research team includes faculty and graduate students from the University of Utah College of Law, City and Metropolitan Planning Department, and Environmental Humanities Program.

Homeless Issues in Downtown Salt Lake City (the “urban environment”)
EDR Program conducted a Situation Assessment, for Salt Lake City in Fall 2013, as a strategic and comprehensive approach to identify the significant issues, existing efforts, opportunities for collaboration and consensus, and potential challenges to addressing homeless issues in downtown SLC. The Assessment Team, which included four law students, conducted nearly 60 confidential interviews across stakeholder groups including downtown residents and businesses, developers, homeless service providers, all levels of government, law enforcement, as well as currently and formerly homeless individuals. The team also researched unique approaches taken by three case study cities that have successfully and collaboratively addressed homeless issues in their downtowns. The Situation Assessment Report can be accessed in three parts:

The Assessment Team, which included four law students, conducted nearly 60 confidential interviews across stakeholder groups, including downtown residents and businesses, developers, homeless service providers, all levels of government, law enforcement, as well as currently and formerly homeless individuals. The team also researched unique approaches taken by three cities that have successfully and collaboratively addressed homeless issues in their downtowns.

The Situation Assessment report informed the City’s development of a collaborative long-term approach to making Salt Lake City’s downtown a welcoming place for all. In April 2014, Ms. Straube and two students from the Assessment Team facilitated a two-day Homeless Solutions Retreat, during which representatives from Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, state agencies working on homeless issues, and homeless service providers debated the recommendations in the Situation Assessment and explored opportunities for enhanced collaboration and coordination. The City’s Homeless Services Strategy, issued mid-year 2014, incorporated the conceptual framework to homelessness issues outlined in our Situation Assessment Report and identified priority strategies the City would pursue, including many of our recommendations.

In late 2014, SLC Mayor Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor McAdams jointly announced the creation of a Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission to explore where homeless services would best be located. EDR Program assisted with process design and facilitated the Commission’s efforts, which resulted in consensus recommendations. Six full Commission meetings were held during 2015, with many smaller group meetings and public input sessions in between. At its November 2015 meeting, the Commission reached full consensus on this key recommendation (among others): “[F]acilities should be located using a “scattered site” model involving smaller shelters co-located with supportive services, while recognizing that some key services supporting the scattered sites may be stationed in a central facility.” The Commission also identified three key priorities to implement their recommendation. This recommendation and key priorities form the basis of a request for funding to the Utah State Legislature in its current session that has broad and active community support.

Ms. Straube’s behind-the-scenes mediation work was featured in a Deseret News profile published in the Christmas 2015 edition.

Sustainable Grazing on Public Lands


Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing for Southern Utah Forest Service Lands

This collaboration developed consensus agreement on grazing management principles and practices that will provide for ecological sustainability and are socially acceptable and economically viable. The group’s primary focus was on three southern Utah National Forests. The process was co-convened by the Utah Department of Natural Resources and the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food. The collaboration participants represented state agencies, academia, as well as agricultural, wildlife and environmental interests. The US Forest Service served as a technical advisor to the collaboration. The collaboration issued its Final Report and Consensus Recommendations on December 31, 2012.

La Sal Sustainability Collaboration (LSSC)

LSSC is a first-of-its-kind effort to bring all public and private land managers in a specific geographic region together to develop a comprehensive approach to grazing management that maximizes private and public values, and implements the consensus recommendations of the Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing. LSSC was co-convened by the Utah Grazing Improvement Program (in the Department of Agriculture & Food) and the Grand Canyon Trust; its members include representatives from permitted ranchers, San Juan County, state wildlife agency, and conservation groups. Federal and state land managers are participating actively in the group as resource experts.

The purpose of the Collaboration is to co-create an approach to management of an area encompassing tens of thousands of acres in the “Southern La Sal’s and Canyons” where federal, state and private rangelands are operated as an integrated, sustainable system. The Collaboration’s recommendations will (1) provide for ecological resilience, (2) sustain economic viability, (3) promote cultural preservation, (4) be socially acceptable, and (5) be legally defensible.

The group has been meeting monthly since August 2014 (sometimes in Green River UT and sometimes in the field). EDR Program staff’s activities for the LSSC include process design, meeting facilitation, and between-meeting mediation as needed. We have also used clinical law students to provide facilitation support. It is anticipated that the collaboration will complete its work by mid-2016.

Watershed Partnership Support

ElscalanteRiverMapERWP logoEscalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP)

Now in its sixth year, ERWP is implementing a collaborative and comprehensive approach to restore, protect, and maintain a healthy riparian ecosystem in the Escalante River watershed. The effort was initiated in 2009 by The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and continues to operate as a loose collaboration of partners. Partnership members include federal and state agencies, local elected officials, various non-profit organizations, and local landowners. Funding for partnership activities flows through individual partner organizations; funding comes from private foundations, federal and state agencies, donations, volunteer efforts, and partners’ in-kind and cash matches.

In 2012 and 2013, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar selected ERWP as America’s Great Outdoors project from the State of Utah. In making this selection, Secretary Salazar pointed to the level of collaboration across three federal agencies, multiple state agencies, conservation groups, local communities and private landowners to share resources and coordinate riparian restoration efforts for watershed-wide ecological benefit. ERWP’s Coordinating Committee received the 2015 Conservation Partnership Award, The Nature Conservancy of Utah’s highest honor, for its successful multi-stakeholder collaboration. Individuals working for ERWP partners also received a variety of awards in 2015 for their collaborative efforts.

EDR Program staff’s activities for the ERWP, since February 2012, have included committee and full partnership meeting facilitation, ongoing coordination and mediation between stakeholders as issues arise, partnership development advice, and facilitation of an annual strategic planning retreat. Throughout 2015, ERWP made good on a commitment to engage more local community members in the partnership’s work, which has increased the diversity of perspectives expressed at each meeting. This has provided many opportunities to model the advantages of consensus-based decision-making.

Cross-Watershed Network (XWN)

XWN Logo

EDR Program staff was invited in 2012 to participate in a Core Team of representatives from multiple watershed partnerships to develop a peer-to-peer network supporting collaboration and healthy watersheds. The Cross-Watershed Network (XWN) has developed a website to link riparian restoration practitioners with each other to share experiences and lessons learned, and to explore opportunities for jointly developing best practices.

XWN sponsored the first peer-to-peer riparian restoration workshop in September 2013 in Cottonwood AZ (Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition, host watershed). The EDR Program worked with XWN and ERWP to co-sponsor the second annual peer-to-peer sharing workshop in October 2014 in Escalante UT. The two-day workshop was attended by over 60 individuals; representing at least 20 watersheds. They shared best practices and lessons learned, and identified gaps in knowledge and process that can be worked on collaboratively across watersheds.

In addition to the annual peer-to-peer sharing workshops, XWN also hosts cross-visits (an opportunity for two watersheds with similar challenges to visit one another to share best practices and lessons learned), a website with resource materials and practitioner profiles, and a “linkers” program to actively link watershed partnerships with the expertise they need for their on-the-ground challenges.

XWN hired a network coordinator in 2015 using VISTA funds, who has ably taken over much of the coordination and strategic plan implementation originally provided by the Steering Committee. Additional VISTA funding is available to keep the network coordinator on for a second year, and more permanent funding has been tentatively identified to hire her permanently. This puts XWN in a strong position to continue and grow as the original Core Team envisioned. As a result, Ms. Straube resigned from the XWN Steering Committee at the end of 2015, creating space on the leadership team for XWN practitioner members to actively participate in providing strategic direction for the organization.