The Wallace Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program promotes collaboration, mediation, stakeholder engagement, and other alternative dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource conflicts in the Mountain West. It does so through public education and capacity building, academic instruction, process design and facilitation services, and research.
The EDR Program continues to host the Utah Program on Collaboration, an effort aimed at cultivating and enhancing a culture of collaboration throughout Utah. As part of the Program on Collaboration, the EDR Program convenes Dialogues on Collaboration once or twice a year on key topics of regional or state interest. During the 2018-19 year, the EDR Program hosted a Dialogue on “Collaborating on Air Quality: From Pollution to Solution,” in partnership with The Langdon Group and multiple local and national sponsors. The EDR Program’s next Dialogue on Collaboration will be in spring 2020 and will likely focus on recreation on public lands.
One of the main objectives of the EDR Program is to provide education and training opportunities for professionals and students interested in environmental conflict resolution and collaboration. As part of the Utah Program on Collaboration, the EDR Program offers the biennial Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration, a professional training that teaches the art and science of collaborative problem solving. To date, more than 60 environmental and natural resources stakeholders from all levels of government, corporations, NGOs, tribes, and consultancies from around Utah have completed the Short Course. Short Course graduates become part of the EDR Fellows Network, which supports continued education and training opportunities. The Wagner Foundation provides funding for limited scholarship for the Short Course, as well as to help support the EDR Fellows Network. In 2020, the EDR Program anticipates hosting the Short Course again in 2020, as well as potentially developing a professional facilitation training.
In spring 2019, EDR Program staff partnered with Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC) to offer a negotiation and collaboration training for environmental professionals from around the West. The EDR Program and TREC will be hosting a similar negotiation and collaboration training in fall 2019.
During 2018-2019, EDR Program staff members also mentored multiple graduate students from across the University of Utah and other academic institutions. EDR Program Director Danya Rumore taught a Negotiation and Dispute Resolution course for the City and Metropolitan Planning Department. She also gave guest lectures on topics related to collaboration, negotiation, and dispute resolution for classes ranging from Environmental Law to Environmental Studies.
Director Rumore continues to facilitate regional collaborative planning efforts in the Zion National Park region of Utah and in the Sandpoint Region of Idaho. Building on that work, the EDR Program is partnering with colleagues at Utah State University and other regional institutions to develop and launch a Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative, which will bring together academic and non-academic partners to provide research, education, and capacity to assist western GNAR communities in collaboratively addressing the planning, community development, and natural resources challenges they face.
The EDR Program has an ongoing Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the US Forest Service to assist the Intermountain Region in implementing its collaborative plan revision mandate. Over the past year, the EDR Program partnered with the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute to conduct a situation assessment on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and to build the capacity of Forest Service employees to work collaboratively with stakeholders on forest management issues.
During 2018-2019, the EDR Program partnered with Western Water Assessment to facilitate climate adaptation planning workshops for communities around Zion National Park as well as for the Moab/Spanish Valley region.
As part of its public education and capacity building mission, the EDR Program has hosted the EDR Blog since 2014. To date, the EDR Blog has shared close to 150 blogs on diverse topics related to environmental dispute resolution and collaboration, which were written by almost 100 different authors.
Director Dr. Danya Rumore continues to serve as the Co-Chair of the national University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) and a member of the Leadership Council for the Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Section (ACR EPP). During the 2018-2019 year, she gave invited talks on collaboration and the EDR Program’s work at multiple national and local events.
Nedra Chandler from Helena, Montana, will be joining the EDR Program as Associate Director in October. Nedra brings decades of experience working as a facilitator and mediator on complex environmental and public policy concerns throughout the West and nationally. The EDR Program will be hiring a Program Manager this fall.