Collaborative and Transparent Community Decision-Making
Community Decision-Making in the Town of Rockville
The EDR Program has worked with the Town of Rockville, a small, rural community located near Zion National Park, to help residents make collaborative and transparent decisions about land use, planning, and growth. These efforts included designing and facilitating community forums to help community members:
- Process the findings of a recent town survey and engage in productive conversation about how to deal with contentious local planning issues. Read the Rockville Community Forum, Facilitators’ Report (held May 14, 2015).
- Learn more about their culinary water supply and demand, identify key information needs, and discuss key community concerns. Read the Rockville Community Forum on Culinary Water, Facilitators’ Report (held August 20, 2015).
- Explore options for restoring or replacing the town’s historic Parker Truss bridge. The forum led to widespread support for rehabilitation of the bridge, which is now underway. Read the Rockville Community Forum on Historic Bridge, Facilitator’s Report (held February 26, 2016).
Homeless Issues in Downtown Salt Lake City
The EDR Program worked with Salt Lake City Corporation from 2013 to 2015 on an effort to better understand and collaboratively and effectively respond to homeless issues in downtown Salt Lake City. These efforts began with a comprehensive situation assessment, followed by process design for and facilitation of both a two-day Homeless Solutions Retreat and the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission. The EDR Program’s Founding Director, Michele Straube, was profiled in Deseret News as a 2015 “difference-maker” for her mediation work on this project. Read more about each stage of the process below.
Creation of a Situation Assessment Report
The 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 Salt Lake City. 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:
Process Design for and Facilitation of the Homeless Solutions Retreat
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 of homelessness issues outlined in our Situation Assessment Report and identified priority strategies the City would pursue, including many of our recommendations.
Process Design for and Facilitation of the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission
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. The 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 formed the basis of a request for funding to the Utah State Legislature that had broad and active community support.
Sustainable Grazing on Public Lands
Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing for Southern Utah Forest Service Lands
This collaborative group developed a consensus agreement on grazing management principles and practices that will provide for ecological sustainability, are socially acceptable, and are 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 and 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.
- Guiding Document
- Operating Protocols
- Membership List
- Final Report and Consensus Recommendations, 31, 2012
- High Country News article (2/17/14)
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 implement 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 of permitted ranchers, San Juan County, the Utah 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 met monthly between August 2014 and February 2017, sometimes in Green River, Utah, and sometimes in the field. EDR Program staff’s activities for the LSSC included process design, meeting facilitation, and between-meeting mediation as needed. The EDR Program also used clinical law students to provide facilitation support.
Watershed Partnership Support
Escalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP)
Since its founding in 2009, the ERWP has developed and implemented a collaborative and comprehensive approach to restore, protect, and maintain a healthy riparian ecosystem in the Escalante River watershed. The effort was initiated by The Nature Conservancy, the 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. Additionally, 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.
From 2012 to 2017, the EDR Program’s activities for the ERWP 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.
- Restoring Utah’s Escalante River video
- ERWP Website
- ERWP 2015 Accomplishments
- October 2016 Newsletter
- Nature Conservancy Magazine article (December 2018)
Cross-Watershed Network (XWN)
The EDR Program 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, Arizona (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, Utah. The two-day workshop was attended by more than 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 put XWN in a strong position to continue and grow as the original core team envisioned. As a result, Michele 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.