Natural Resources and Environmental Conflict Resolution

Managing complex natural and cultural resource issues requires innovative problem solving and open dialogue among those involved and potentially impacted by resource decisions. The Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR) has more than two decades of experience providing DOI Bureaus and Offices and external stakeholders with independent, confidential, and impartial collaborative problem-solving and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) expertise and services. Click each of the links below to learn more:

What is ECCR?

Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) is about addressing environmental, natural and cultural resources and public lands issues in a collaborative fashion. In the Department of the Interior we use ECCR to also mean “External Collaboration and Conflict Resolution” to represent the wide array of collaboration and conflict resolution activities involving individuals and entities outside of DOI. These activities may involve individuals working together to resolve a single issue, as well as opportunities for many participants and stakeholders to address complex, multifaceted issues. ECCR makes use of an impartial third party to facilitate or mediate. Experienced facilitators, mediators, and ECCR process experts are:

  • Experts in designing and facilitating collaborative problem solving, public engagement, and agreement-seeking processes;
  • Impartial on substantive issues -- they are NOT decision makers;
  • May be federal employees or independent federal contractors; and
  • Acceptable to the parties involved.

ECCR can occur in many settings such as policy dialogues, advisory committees, and task forces; NEPA planning processes; and program implementation. More formal settings include assisted negotiations; negotiated rulemaking; and litigation-related settlement.

The ECCR Continuum

Think about the types of Collaboration and Conflict Resolution Processes like a river going from headwaters downstream.


Upstream the waters may be relatively clear and calm, conflict may bubble up periodically but is readily resolved. This is an ideal environment to collaborate, build and advance relationships. Situations where collaboration works well include development of new policies and maintaining existing relationships with external stakeholders.

As you move downstream, water speeds up, there may be more turbulence as water hits rocks, and there may be periodic impasses as water picks up debris. This is similar to those situations where there is a history between groups with some level of conflict. Planning processes as well as policy and/or program implementation are more effective and efficient when conflict management and prevention techniques are used.

By this time, the water has traveled quite a long way. Downstream the waters can be rough and turbulent. This is similar to situations where the there may be longstanding conflict that has been simmering for years, the absence of relationships and tools like assisted, or facilitated negotiation and/or mediation can be effective.

CADR’s ECCR Approach and Services

Anyone can contact us, there is no cost and no official permission is required to reach out to CADR. We start with a conversation. We want to learn about the issue you are addressing, your objectives, who else is involved, timelines, and if the topic is a long-standing issue or something that’s just emerging. With this information we help you think through what kind of facilitation, collaborative problem solving, or mediation might be needed for the issue or project you are addressing. Our advice is based on our decades of experience as practitioners. We will also explore with you what kind of impartial facilitation and/or collaboration may be appropriate and if the facilitator must have special expertise to work effectively with the group.

When appropriate, and where there is sufficient capacity and concurrence of the parties, CADR staff can provide direct facilitation and collaboration support.

To help meet the need for impartial facilitators versed in ECCR topics the DOI CADR Office maintains an Indefinite Quantity Indefinite Cost (IDIQ) contract for private sector facilitators, collaboration professionals and mediators. This contract is available for all DOI Bureaus and Offices to use. To learn more about our ECCR IDIQ contact Lisa Kool at


Below are links to other collaboration programs in DOI and around the Federal Government.

Programs in DOI:

BLM CADR Program:

FWS Human Dimensions:

NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program:

Reclamation: WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program:

Programs in Other Federal Agencies:

EPA Conflict Prevention and Resolution Program (CPRC):

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Dispute Resolution Service:

Udall Foundation National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution:

USACE Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise:

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