Natural Resources Collaboration and Dispute Resolution
The BLM strongly supports the use of collaborative and dispute resolution processes and strategies in natural resources programs. Working with stakeholders, other Federal agencies, Tribal, state, and local governments, and the public is a part of the fabric of the BLM, and is built-in to our multiple-use mission and the way we do business. This is becoming even more important as we confront broader, landscape-scale issues and challenges. Providing support for the BLM Field to convene and participate in collaborative processes on natural resources and environmental issues is the primary focus of the BLM's Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program. This spectrum of processes in the Federal government is also known as "Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution" or "ECR."
A major policy focus of the Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program is "upstream" stakeholder engagement. Working to involve stakeholders, other agencies, Tribal, state, and local governments, and the general public early in BLM decision-making helps to prevent protests, appeals, and litigation, as well as creating better decisions with broad ownership and buy-in. Collaborative stakeholder working groups provide a forum to prevent future conflict wherever possible and to address existing and known potential disputes. The BLM's participation in stakeholder working groups, in some instances, may be limited by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
The Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program also supports efforts to resolve disputes that have already entered a formal dispute forum, such as appeals, protests, and litigation. The use of direct negotiations as well as third-party assisted processes has also been increasing in recent years. "Third-party neutrals" are a common element in many dispute resolution processes, and can assist parties in identifying common ground, communicating more effectively, and managing the procedural aspects of agreement-seeking. The BLM Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program can assist in the selection of an appropriate neutral for specific cases, including use of a roster of in-house facilitators, and an "Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity" contract for use hiring outside assitance, coaching, assessment, facilitation, or other services. Please contact us for more information.
Many tools and guidance documents are also available on natural resources collaboration and dispute resolution, including a Field Guide on general processes and strategies, availabe here, as well as a companion guide specifically on natural resources Negotiation, available here.