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Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program

Third-Party Neutrals for Environmental and Natural Resources Issues

A "third-party neutral," such as a mediator or facilitator, can often be helpful in preventing, managing, or resolving conflict. "Third-party neutral" is a term of art which refers to someone who assists parties in seeking resolution of a conflict or dispute, or in facilitating efficient and effective process, and does not represent any of the parties involved.  The Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program staff can assist the BLM Field in both evaluating the need for a third-party neutral and in identifying a source.

In some situations, such as established or low-conflict facilitations, an "in-house" employee can appropriate fill the role of a neutral.  In other cases, the role needs to be filled by an external "third party," such that all participants are comfortable with the neutrality of the individual.  (Generally, external third-party neutrals charge a fee for their services, and in a conflict or dispute involving a BLM office, it is important that all parties involved have agreed on who will share in the costs for the neutral.) The Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Program can assist BLM offices in finding neutrals for either type of situation.

Sources of Neutrals

The Department of the Interior keeps an "In-house Roster of Facilitators" made up of DOI employees with training and experience in facilitation.  These employees can provide facilitation services for teams, meetings, off-sites, or in some situations, even for more complex multi-party collaboratives.  In some cases where a BLM employee would not be an appropriate neutral, an employee from another bureau might have the necessary distance but can still provide their services free of charge.  (Requesting offices are still responsible for necessary travel.) The DOI In-House Roster of Facilitators is available to DOI employees within the network on an internal SharePoint site here.   For more information, or to apply for inclusion on the roster, please contact us .

There is also an "Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity" contract now available to quickly and easily hiring third-party neutrals for a number of natural resources or environmental collaboration or dispute resolution needs, including facilitation services as well as situation assessments, conflict coaching, training and curriculum development, and many other services.  Many different practitioners across the US are currently available through this contract's roster, and practitioners not already on the roster may be added provided they meet experience and other requirements.  To make use of this contract to find and hire an outside third-party neutral, please contact us .

Other Resources for Finding a Third-Party Neutral

The National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals is a source of information for identifying neutral third parties and matching them to appropriate disputes. The Roster is maintained by the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, and it contains information on more than 150 individuals who have met certain qualifications with regard to experience in managing natural resources disputes. Anyone can access and search the Roster's database for appropriate neutral third parties. For more information on the Roster, click here.

A new and developing resource for those seeking assistance from a collaborative conflict resolution practitioner where American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian people and environmental, natural resource or public/trust lands (including cultural property and sacred sites) issues are involved. Network Members include American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other practitioners who work with Native peoples. Network practitioner members have experience with environmental, natural resource and public/trust lands issues as well as experience resolving disputes involving Native people or communities. For more information on the Network, click here.