The Wallace Stegner Center’s Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program has promoted collaboration, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental and natural resource conflicts in the Mountain West since its founding in 2012. The EDR Program accomplishes this aim through public education and capacity building, academic instruction, process design and facilitation services, and research.
In the last year, the EDR Program continued to expand its efforts, reach, partnerships, and impacts, including receiving regional and national attention as a leader in the field of environmental conflict resolution and collaborative governance.
Director Dr. Danya Rumore received the 2018 Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Section (ACR EPP) Rob Williams Award for Emerging Environment and Public Policy Leaders, which is awarded annually to an individual showing promise to exercise outstanding leadership in the field of environmental conflict resolution. She was appointed as the Co-Chair of the national University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) and as a member of the Leadership Council for ACR EPP. She also gave invited talks on collaboration and the EDR Program’s work at multiple events, including the Utah American Planning Association Chapter statewide conference.
During the 2017-2018 year, the EDR Program partnered with the Ruckelshaus Institute at the University of Wyoming to convene a Collaborative Governance Research and Scholarship Retreat in Grand Teton National Park; the retreat brought together leading collaborative governance scholars from around the country to develop a research agenda and partnerships aimed at advancing the study and practice of collaborative governance.
The EDR Program continues to host the Utah Program on Collaboration, an effort aimed at cultivating and enhancing a culture of collaboration throughout Utah. The Program on Collaboration was kicked off in November 2015 with a full-day Forum on Collaboration that engaged high-level state and federal natural resource and environmental agency leaders in exploring opportunities and challenges for collaboration in Utah. In November 2017, the EDR Program partnered with The Langdon Group to bring together 33 leaders from 20 agencies for the second Forum on Collaboration. The next Forum on Collaboration will be held in fall 2019.
The EDR Program also hosts Dialogues on Collaboration twice a year as part of the Program on Collaboration. During the 2017-18 year, the EDR Program engaged more than 150 diverse stakeholders and members of the public via two Dialogues: one focused on “Funding for Collaboration: Resources and Challenges” that was co-hosted with the Langdon Group and the National Policy Consensus Center, and the other on “The Great Salt Lake: What Can Collaboration Bring to the Table?”, which was co-hosted with The Langdon Group and sponsored by state agencies, energy and mining corporations, research institutes, and environmental organizations. The EDR Program’s next Dialogue on Collaboration will focus on air quality and will be on December 6, 2018.
One of the main objectives of the EDR Program is to provide educational 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 an annual Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration professional training that teaches the art and science of collaborative problem solving. The 2018 Short Course is currently underway, with a cohort of 24 environmental and natural resources stakeholders from all levels of government, corporations, NGOs, tribes, and consultancies. The Wagner Charitable Foundation provided scholarships to enable diverse participation in the 2018 Short Course. The EDR Program anticipates hosting the Short Course again in 2019, as well as potentially developing a professional facilitation training and launching an online collaboration toolkit.
During 2017-2018, EDR Program staff members mentored multiple graduate students from the College of Law, the City and Metropolitan Planning Department, and the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, engaging them in on-the-ground projects and experiential learning opportunities. They also taught courses on negotiation, dispute resolution, and conflict management for the College of Law and the City and Metropolitan Planning Department, and will do so again in 2018-2019.
The EDR Program continues to facilitate regional collaborative planning efforts in the Zion National Park region of Utah and in Bonner County, Idaho. This past year, the EDR Program also facilitated workshops for the Colorado Plateau Dark Skies Cooperative and the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. Building on that work, the EDR Program is leading efforts to develop and launch a Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative at the University of Utah, 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 held two trainings and developed resources focused on this topic. The EDR Program is now partnering 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.
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 more than 100 blogs on diverse topics related to environmental dispute resolution and collaboration by more than 80 authors. EDR Program staff members also frequently give invited guest talks and presentations.
In spring 2018, Katherine Daly joined the EDR Program as Program Manager. Katherine holds a Master of City and Metropolitan Planning Degree from the University of Utah, and previously worked with the EDR Program as a graduate student Fellow. She is assisting the EDR Program in meeting increasing demand for its services and resources, as well as overseeing outreach and communications.