Environmental Dispute Resolution Program Update

Nov 01, 2012 | Stegner Center

The Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Program (EDRP) was established in February 2012 with generous funding from Alternative Visions Fund, a fund of the Chicago Community Trust.  The Stegner EDRP promotes collaboration, mediation, and other dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental conflicts.  Focusing initially on environmental and natural resource conflicts in Utah, EDRP is building capacity for expanded and improved collaboration and mediation, while also documenting and shedding new light on the extensive collaboration efforts already occurring in Utah and the Mountain West.

The new program’s approach redefines the meaning of “ADR”.  Though usually thought of as an alternative to litigation, EDRP uses the term “ADR” to mean Additional Dialogue Required – using mediation and other collaborative processes to create an opportunity for dialogue and mutual understanding in environmental and natural resource conflicts.  This approach builds long-term relationships and produces enduring on-the-ground results.

The program is developing an Environmental Dispute Resolution course to be offered to law students and other graduate programs in Spring 2013, creating its own curriculum using case studies and realistic simulations.  A collaborative problem-solving training is being offered in November 2012 for federal government staff from Utah and surrounding states.  EDR Program staff are pursuing other opportunities to build capacity for stakeholders to participate effectively in collaborative processes, and to provide environmental and natural resource professionals with dispute resolution and consensus-building skills. 

The new EDR Program is currently involved as process designer and facilitator in two ongoing projects.  In May 2012, the Escalante River Watershed Partnership was recognized by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar as one of ten exemplary projects in the Pacific Northwest and Western states under America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative.  The Partnership received this honor in large part because of its collaborative and comprehensive approach to restore, protect and maintain a healthy riparian ecosystem in the Escalante River watershed.  The EDR Program is also working closely with a multi-interest collaboration developing consensus agreement on grazing management principles and practices that will provide for ecological sustainability and are socially acceptable and economically viable, with primary focus on three southern Utah National Forests. 

The EDR Program staff includes a full-time Executive Director and a half-time research associate.  Additional assistance is provided by the Stegner Center’s Research Fellow and student interns.  More information about the Stegner EDR Program >>