Generosity and Wisdom – CDR Partner Louise Smart

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of CDR Partner Louise Smart. Louise was an instrumental member of the CDR team for over 20 years–developing our nationally renowned transportation practice area, mentoring and training hundreds of practitioners, as well as authoring numerous influential guidance documents that integrated dispute resolution concepts with transportation decision making. Her commitment to crafting practical positive change was wide-reaching.

Thank you, Louise.

New Staff

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Jeffrey Range

Jeffrey rejoins CDR with nearly a decade of experience internationally and in the U.S. He’s worked with government agencies, NGO’s, and companies in areas including land use, development, environmental sustainability, and organizational effectiveness. Please contact Jeffrey at jrange@mediate.org

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Spencer Dodge

Spencer assists in the design and facilitation of meetings across a broad spectrum of issues. Receiving his Master’s in Conflict Resolution from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, he is committed to enhancing honest, collaborative processes by building relationships, solving problems creatively, and engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders. Please contact Spencer at sdodge@mediate.org

It’s All About the Context – Facilitating Transportation and Community Decision Making

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The I-70 Mountain corridor is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains from the Denver Metro area. It offers breathtaking views, access to unique and historic mountain communities, and rich natural heritage and resources. The corridor serves as a recreational destination for the world, a route for interstate and local commerce, and a unique place to live and play.  I-70 is also federally designated as a high priority corridor, a significant part of the defense network, a major east/west continental corridor, and a major economic corridor for Colorado.  For many local communities along the corridor, I-70 is the lifeline, primary access, and only connection to other communities.

Current I-70 roadway geometry is constrained with narrow shoulders and tight curves that impact safety, mobility, accessibility, and capacity for travelers and residents.  CDR has been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in partnership with local jurisdictions, landowners, and a variety of stakeholders along the I-70 corridor, to implement a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process that will result in solutions to improve the westbound highway and the communities along the road. The goal is to develop transportation solutions that respect the unique environmental, historic, community, and recreational resources in the study area. Additionally, improvements are needed to lessen delays caused by peak period volumes.

Preliminary options have been developed during the Concept Development Process, and will now be moved forward in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and toward implementation over the next few years.  As the process transitions into NEPA, CDR Associates will continue facilitating and engaging a diverse stakeholder group – from county representatives, recreational rafting and cycling groups, US Forest Service, businesses and residents.  Our goal is to provide a forum to effectively develop and communicate a shared vision and goals for the corridor that will safely and efficiently move people and freight while respecting and prioritizing the communities, ecosystems, and wildlife.

Contact: Taber Ward or Jonathan Bartsch

Wildlife and Transportation Summit: Providing Safe Passage for People and Wildlife

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We’ve all seen it: the unrecognizable remains of some beautiful animal on the side of the road that happened to try and cross traffic at an inopportune time. Unfortunately, this sight is all too common for those living in Colorado – in 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reported nearly 7,000 wild animals killed by passing trucks and cars, resulting in two human fatalities and almost 400 injuries.

With the largest elk herd in North America and a rapidly expanding population, different agencies including the Colorado DOT, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are coordinating to alleviate strains on migratory animals as well as animals residing near high speed corridors.

While determining how to practically solve this growing problem is complicated, recent coordinated action has provided direction. To this end, in June 2017, CDR spearheaded the design and facilitation of the Wildlife and Transportation Summit in Silverthorne, Colorado – a two-day multi-agency, interdisciplinary conference hosted by CDOT, CPW, and FHWA. The Summit established partnerships and developed recommendations to improve highway safety and protect wildlife populations.  Summit attendees included multiple state agencies, USFWS, the US Forest Service, legislators, the Nature Conservancy, private landowners, the freight industry, foundations, academia, and wildlife experts.

CDR focused on building momentum and finding common goals among policymakers, agency staff and public-private stakeholders to develop strategies and identify funding for wildlife crossings, mitigation work and herd migration.

The Summit focused on issues, including:

  • wildlife migration and permeability
  • animal-vehicle collisions
  • highway safety
  • highway mitigation features (fencing, overpasses, underpasses)
  • partnership opportunities

What’s Next?

Summit recommendations were recently presented and discussed with the Transportation Environmental Resource Council (TERC), a Colorado inter-agency forum. CDR will be working with CDOT, CPW, and FHWA to facilitate and implement the Summit recommendations and develop an Action Plan beginning with a focus on the West Slope of Colorado beginning in early 2018.

Contact Taber Ward or Spencer Dodge for more information.

CULTURE SHOCK: Boulder’s Public Participation Working Group – FINAL REPORT

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The verdict is in: The City of Boulder needs to change the culture of public engagement. After almost a year of research, discussion, deliberation and drafting, the Public Participation Work Group (PPWG) produced their Final Report – the report is currently on Boulder’s PPWG website and was approved  by the City Council.

Root problems identified by the PPWG include: lack of understanding of how public engagement and decision-making processes work and lack of consistent productive public conversations. As a result, this leads to frustration, anger and disruptive behavior, even for the “happiest City in the country.” The PPWG worked to support a fundamental shift in the way Boulder culture is played out by: 1) Changing the Culture of Public Engagement and 2) Utilizing a Comprehensive Decision-Making Process to enable community members to play the appropriate roles in partnership with the City of Boulder and key decision makers. The PPWG emphasized that this process will take time, require resources, and ought to be evaluated to measure improvements and modify accordingly.

In our last edition of CDR’s “Talking Points,” we provided a snapshot of the PPWG deliberations and the desire to re-vamp Boulder’s public engagement processes. Six months later, the PPWG’s Final Report provides five key problem statements and a road map to address these problems through a series of cultural shifts and decision-making process recommendations. The report is directed to everyone in Boulder – as the responsibility of good public participation is shared among community members, the City of Boulder Council, Staff, Boards and Commissions, decision-makers.

One of CDR’s strengths was highlighted during this process:  designing and implementing public-involvement processes to fit the specific community needs.  CDR facilitated the successful conclusion of this challenging and complex process by reaching agreement with the PPWG members and gaining approval from the Council.

For us, the PPWG process provides an opportunity to improve the community where we live and work.  Going beyond the mechanics of public involvement and focusing on the culture and principles of public participation can result in improved decision-making and stronger relationships.

For more information: Contact Taber Ward or Jonathan Bartsch

Oil and Gas Development in Colorado: Is Consensus Possible?

BROOMFIELD, CO -MARCH 15: Workers build homes in the Anthem subdivistion near the spot of the proposed Sheridan pad, that could have up to 40 wells, in Broomfield, March 15, 2017. A rebound in oil prices is spurring a rebound in drilling, including close-in to residential areas. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

CDR facilitated the high-profile and challenging Broomfield Oil and Gas Comprehensive Plan Update Committee (Committee). A 14-person, citizen-committee, comprised of diverse and divergent perspectives regarding oil and gas, worked for over six months to develop a consensus agreement that was adopted by the Broomfield City Council.

Background

Oil and gas development has been important to Colorado for decades. As both Colorado’s population and the international demand for oil and gas have continued to climb, oil and gas development has encroached on urban and suburban areas, while cities and towns have sprawled towards historic oil and gas areas. Landowners are sometimes frustrated to learn about the state law that allows a “split estate.” Split estate means that surface property rights are the landowner’s rights to the surface of the land and mineral rights are property rights to the minerals beneath the surface of the land. These mineral rights can be “split off” from surface rights, meaning minerals beneath the land can be owned by a separate entity. Mineral rights include a mineral owner’s right to explore, mine and produce the rocks, minerals, oil, or natural gas below the surface of the property. This includes the right to enter upon the land and extract those minerals or receive royalty from the extraction of the minerals. In Colorado, the fact that surface and mineral rights for the same area of land may have different owners can result in disputes.

Update Committee

In response to public concerns and anger toward an oil and gas proposal that would site multi-well pads near residential areas (some sites included over 40 wells per pad), the City Council organized a transparent and citizen driven effort to develop regulations and guidance for oil and gas contract negotiations and memorandums of understanding (MOUs).

Broomfield convened a public forum at the 1st Bank Center that attracted thousands of concerned community members (in-person and live streamed) and later formed the Update Committee that prioritized the health, safety, and welfare of the residents and environment of Broomfield, as part of the Comprehensive Plan.  The Committee members also recognized, as part of their charge, the need to allow mineral rights owners’ reasonable access to their mineral property. The Council charged the Committee with this technically complex and controversial task.

The Committee organized itself into four subcommittees: Health, Community Impacts, Planning, and Legal.  The Committee met at least two times a week for over six months. Numerous experts presented to the Committee on a range of topics to better inform the deliberations from air quality and noise standards to property values and state policy.

Consensus Agreement

CDR facilitated the Update Committee’s consensus agreement working through numerous contentious issues, framing the problems constructively and encouraging frank and creative problem solving. One of the essential elements of the effort was the strong technical, legal and policy support from the Broomfield staff.

The six-month facilitation resulted in comprehensive, strategic, and far reaching recommendations. Both the process and the substantive recommendations are seen to be a model for other communities facing similar challenges. These recommendations require state of the art technology and target regulation to mitigate, to the extent possible, negative impacts to the community and the environment.  Recommendations from the Update Committee include: Air Quality, Groundwater, Environmental Assessment, Oil and Gas Facility Siting, Application Process and Requirements, Pipelines, Setbacks, Traffic, Visual Screening, Insurance and Bonding, and Enforcement.

Click here to view City Council Resolution 2017-160 and the adopted Comprehensive Plan Update Chapter on Oil and Gas, adopted on September 26, 2017.

For more information contact: Jonathan Bartsch or Taber Ward