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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 and other public policy issues. It does so through public education and capacity building, academic instruction, process design and facilitation services, and research.

One of the main objectives of the EDR Program is to provide education, training, and capacity-building opportunities for professionals and students interested in environmental conflict resolution and collaboration. As part of this, the EDR Program offers an annual Short Course on Effective Natural Resources Collaboration, a professional training that teaches the art and science of collaborative problem solving. Through the Short Course, the Program is currently training 24 natural resource professionals, who upon graduation will join the more than 60 environmental and natural resources stakeholders from all levels of government, corporations, NGOs, tribes, and consultancies from around Utah who have already completed the Short Course. Short Course graduates become part of the EDR Fellows Network, which supports continued education and training opportunities. The EDR Program anticipates hosting the Short Course again in 2021 as well as offering additional continuing education and coaching opportunities for EDR Fellows.

The EDR Program also offers customized in-person and virtual collaboration, negotiation, and facilitation training for organizations around the country. During 2019-2020, the Program provided training for such organizations as the Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC); the National Park Service; and the Wildlands Network. The EDR Program has also developed expertise in conducting online trainings and virtual facilitation; in 2020, Program staff provided training in using Zoom and other virtual platforms for interactive group work and teaching for multiple University of Utah departments, the Southwest Climate Hub, the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University, and the University Network for Collaborative Governance.

As part of the EDR Program’s educational mission, staff members teach academic courses and provide mentorship for graduate students from across the University of Utah and other academic institutions. This past year, EDR Program Director Danya Rumore taught a Negotiation and Dispute Resolution course for the City and Metropolitan Planning Department and a Negotiating Environmental Agreements course for Vermont Law School. Director Rumore and Associate Director Nedra Chandler also gave numerous guest lectures on topics related to collaboration, negotiation, facilitation, and dispute resolution.

The EDR Program has hosted the EDR Blog since 2014. To date, the EDR Blog has shared close to 175 blogs on diverse topics related to environmental dispute resolution and collaboration, which were written by more than 100 different authors. During the past year, EDR Program staff also offered invited public talks and workshops on collaboration and related topics for organizations including the International Association for Public Participation, the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and Salt Lake County Association of Municipal Councils.

The EDR Program continues to provide individual and group coaching for organizations throughout the mountain west. During the past year, EDR Program staff provided coaching and organizational development assistance for individuals and groups from the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Council, the Utah Wildlife Connectivity Working Group, the Zion Regional Collaborative, multiple State of Utah agencies and offices, and multiple academic institutions.

EDR Program staff provide facilitation, collaborative process design, and situation assessment services in limited situations that meet specific project criteria. In fall 2019, the EDR Program helped convene and facilitated a devising seminar on Visitation on Utah’s Public Lands: Preserving our Past and Forging our Future that generated good ideas for addressing recreation impacts and opportunities on Utah’s state and federal lands. Program staff also provided facilitation assistance for the Utah Land Management Evaluation and Assessment Network and Utah Wildlife Connectivity Working Group. In fall 2020, the EDR Program will be conducting a situation assessment for the Utah Division of Water Resources Management to explore the potential development of a Demand Management Program as part of the Colorado River Basin States’ Drought Contingency Plan.

The EDR Program seeks to be a leader in the field of collaboration. As part of this, Director Rumore has served on the Steering Committee of the of national University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) since 2016 and as a member of the Leadership Council for the Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Section (ACR EPP) since 2018.

The EDR Program also works to catalyze collaborative efforts to address emerging needs. An example of this, the EDR Program has been partnering with colleagues at Utah State University and other regional institutions for the last two years to develop a Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) Initiative to assist western gateway communities and the regions around them in collaboratively addressing the planning, community development, and natural resources challenges they face. This effort, which is based in the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University, was successfully launched in early 2020.  The GNAR Initiative will be hosting a webinar series on amenity migration this fall, beginning with a presentation by Director Rumore on the findings of a 2018 study she led on planning and development challenges in western gateway communities.

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