Current Collaborative Problem-Solving Projects
The EDR Program helps catalyze, facilitate, and support collaborative problem-solving efforts that have significant potential to demonstrate and advance best practices, pilot innovative approaches, demonstrate the effectiveness of collaborative approaches in new contexts, and/or provide valuable learning opportunities for students.
We provide the following collaborative problem-solving and neutral third-party assistance:
- Conducting situation assessments to explore opportunities, challenges, and next steps for collaboration and conflict resolution around environmental, natural resource, and public policy issues.
- Working with stakeholders to lay the groundwork for and catalyze collaborative problem-solving efforts.
- Facilitating and mediating one-off and ongoing collaborative problem-solving and conflict resolution efforts.
- Creating spaces for collaborative brainstorming and ideating around complex environmental and natural resource concerns.
- Offering conflict coaching and mentoring.
- Providing ongoing public education and capacity building for the stakeholders and communities we work with.
Click here to see the criteria we use to select collaborative projects.
Our current projects are described below, including related resources and work products. For information about our prior projects, see our Past Projects page. For more information about our public education programs, trainings, conflict coaching, and other capacity-building efforts, visit our Public Education and Capacity Building page. Our Collaboration 101 toolkit, case studies, exercises and simulations, and other resources can be found on our Tools and Resources page.
Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative
Mill Creek outside of Moab, UT by Rory Tyler.
Throughout the western United States, small towns and cities outside of national parks, public lands, and other sought-after natural amenities are becoming increasingly popular places to visit and live. As a result, many of these gateway and natural amenity region (GNAR) communities are facing severe congestion, lack of affordable workforce housing, declining water quantity and quality, degradation of natural resources, economic vulnerability, and changes to quality of life. These issues are often interconnected and regional in nature, making responding to them all the more challenging.
The EDR Program is leading efforts to develop and launch a GNAR Initiative at the University of Utah. The Initiative 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 resource challenges they face.
The Initiative is a natural outgrowth of the EDR Program’s work with western GNAR communities, including our work with the Zion Region Collaborative in the Zion National Park region of Utah and the Bonner Regional Team in Bonner County, Idaho, where Lake Pend Oreille is located.
Zion Regional Collaborative
Springdale, Utah, outside of Zion National Park. Photo by Kailey Kornhauser.
The region around Zion National Park in southern Utah has experienced considerable increases in visitation and growth in recent years, which has resulted in a variety of impacts on the park and surrounding communities and resources. At the request of regional stakeholders, the EDR Program conducted a situation assessment in 2016 to better understand the region’s challenges and to identify opportunities for regional collaboration aimed at addressing visitation- and growth-related impacts. The assessment identified significant opportunities for improved regional collaboration, which resulted in the formation of the Zion Regional Collaborative (ZRC).
The ZRC brings together key stakeholders from around the Zion region to proactively and collaboratively identify and take action to address current and emerging regional challenges and opportunities. The ZRC works on issues ranging from regional transportation and trail systems to community development and policy concerns. The EDR Program continues to facilitate and engage graduate students in assisting the ZRC. This effort is part of the Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative the EDR Program helped develop and launch.
The ZRC brings together stakeholders to proactively and collaboratively identify and take action to address current and emerging issues in the Zion region. To achieve this goal, the effort facilitates information sharing and coordination among regional stakeholders, as well as joint development and implementation of regional strategies. The effort aims to build consensus around courses of action and mobilize diverse resources to support implementation.
The following entities have provided funding for facilitation, graduate student assistance, and other support for the ZRC: National Institute for Transportation and Communities; Washington County and Washington County Convention and Tourism Office; Utah Office of Tourism; Town of Springdale; University of Utah.
Bonner Regional Team
The City of Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille, Bonner County, Idaho. Photo by Danya Rumore.
Rapid growth around the City of Sandpoint in Bonner County, Idaho, has created a variety of tensions related to land use planning, community development, and natural resource management. A group of Bonner County citizens who were concerned about the lack of regional collaboration to address these issues reached out to the EDR Program in 2016 to request assistance. The EDR Program conducted a situation assessment focused on growth, land use, and planning in Bonner County, which identified widespread interest in fostering a vibrant economy, preserving and enhancing the County’s community character and cohesion, its rural qualities, and its livability and affordability, and protecting its water quality, recreation opportunities, and natural beauty and assets. The assessment also identified a general desire for thoughtful and orderly development that does not compromise these qualities. Furthermore, it identified broad interest in improved regional collaboration to achieve these goals and to improve the operations of local governments. The assessment catalyzed the formation of the Bonner Regional Team (BRT), a collaborative effort that brings together jurisdictions and organizations from around the Sandpoint and Bonner County region to identify current and emerging regional issues and recommend coordinated actions to local entities. This effort is part of the Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative the EDR Program helped develop and launch.
The BRT identifies current and emerging issues in the greater Sandpoint and Bonner County region and recommends coordinated actions to local entities.
Reports and Work Products
Situation Assessment Report
The following entities have provided funding for facilitation, graduate student assistance, and other support for the BRT: National Institute for Transportation and Communities; National Association of Realtors; LOR Foundation; Bonner County; City of Sandpoint; University of Utah.
Collaborative National Forest Planning and Management
A view of the Teton Mountain Range in Teton County, Wyoming. Photo by Susan Green.
The EDR Program is assisting the US Forest Service Intermountain Region in advancing collaborative forest planning and management. The Intermountain Region covers more than 34 million acres in the Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, and Great Basin. It contains a diverse mix of landscapes, ecosystems, and stakeholders that pose unique challenges—and opportunities—for collaborative management of public resources. The EDR Program previously designed and facilitated collaboration trainings for the Ashley National Forest and the Intermountain Regional Office. We also developed resources to help US Forest Service Region 4 employees understand, articulate, and fulfill the collaborative forest plan revision mandate. We have partnered with the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute to conduct a situation assessment of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which identifies opportunities and challenges for collaborative forest planning and management.
Reports and Work Products
March 2018 Region 4 Workshop Overview
This work is funded through a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the US Forest Service.