In order to effectively enforce legalized marijuana in Colorado, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division has a software system to track the process from marijuana harvest to retail sales—the Metrc system (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) which is also used in Alaska and Oregon. CDR Associates, as part of the Rebound Solutions team, facilitated meetings among state government employees and users of the system including cultivators, manufacturers, retail stores and third-party vendors. The user group provides recommendations on how to enhance the software, and the State Licensing Authority and Marijuana Enforcement Division make all decisions on what upgrades to make. In order to prioritize enhancements, the group identified criteria and developed a list of priorities for 3-month intervals. They also discussed principles for data integrity. Meetings provide an opportunity for the software developer, Franwell, to share updates and respond to questions, and refine next steps for updates. For more information, contact Laura Sneeringer or visit the Marijuana Enforcement Division or Metrc websites.
Agricultural production has historically been the cornerstone of the lifestyle, culture and economy of Crystal River valley and remains so today. However, growing population and changing demographics in the valley have heightened interest in recreational, environmental and aesthetic values of the Crystal River. In recent drought years, recorded extreme low flows in the lower Crystal River fueled concerns and controversy among residents, conservation groups, environmental advocates, resource agencies and the agricultural community about the health of the River. In response, the local watershed organization, Roaring Fork Conservancy provided essential local capacity and team building to develop and implement the Crystal River Management Plan (CRMP). CDR Associates, Lotic Hydrological, and the Public Counsel of the Rockies helped support their efforts.
The CRMP provided a collaborative community process to bring diverse stakeholders together to openly explore and discuss values, resource use priorities, and feasibility constraints around water management alternatives. The Plan was extensively vetted with stakeholders to ensure broad support and buy-in for the plan as a platform for implementation. The stakeholder process represented a significant investment of time, trust and cooperation by stakeholders throughout the project, and provides a foundation for working together as a community to implement the CRMP recommendations.
Stakeholder input generated in early group meetings, informal “coffee shop” encounters, and community informational meetings also guided the choice of alternative management practices that were analyzed: market based incentives for water conservation through bypassed flows; infrastructure improvements and efficiency upgrades; off-stream storage; habitat enhancement through channel modification. This input helped to illuminate management constraints beyond the ecological and physical processes such as agricultural operations, planting cycles, policies, markets and social attitudes.
CDR supported the effort by framing questions and digging deep to understand stakeholder values and perspectives, building support for the scientific approach and methodology, and clarifying the outcomes and time frames. For more information, contact Jonathan Bartsch, visit our water practice page or review the CRMP on the Roaring Fork Conservancy website.
CDR Associates worked with Francesc Vendrell, the former personal representative to the UN Secretary General and the Special Representative of the European Union for Afghanistan, to lead a multi-day mediation training session in a module of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Fellowship Programme in Peacemaking and Preventive Diplomacy. The seminar, organized by UNITAR and the International Peace Institute and held in Oslo, was attended by close to 40 UN staff and foreign service officers from around the world. The mediation module presented effective intermediary procedures and skills using the case of Afghanistan and potential negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. A description of the program can be found in Strengthening the Practice of Peacemaking and Preventive Diplomacy in the United Nations: The UNITAR Approach, to which CDR’s Chris Moore and Susan Wildau contributed several chapters. For more information, contact Chris Moore or Susan Wildau or visit our training page.
CDR’s 2016 training program was a huge success. It focused on setting up and facilitating successful multi-party collaborative efforts. We teach you how to address aspects such as technical and political complexity, broad public involvement, media and other components. Our trainers use their personal experience in the field to demonstrate techniques and concepts. Our program blends presentations, group discussion, conflict analysis and strategy design exercises and simulations into a highly engaging learning environment.
The 2017 training dates will be posted later this year. Please check back or sign up for our mailing list and we’ll notify you automatically.
To learn more about all of our public training opportunities or to register, click here.
CDR is working in cooperation with Resources for the Future (RFF) on a third-party independent assessment of best practices in community engagement in unconventional energy development in the U.S. The research is funded by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and will involve extensive interviews with industry, communities, government and non-governmental stakeholders in oil and gas regions in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas. The research will focus on case studies where industry practices, protocols and behaviors have shown to be successful in addressing community needs and will examine what worked, why it worked, and whether the practices are transferable to other regions. The findings will help stakeholders better understand the challenges and opportunities surrounding hydraulic fracturing in a regional context and how industry operators have worked with communities to overcome challenges and leverage opportunities.
Industry, communities and local governments need more informed guidance to obtain and maintain a social license to operate. While industry guides list principles and best practices in industry-community engagement, nowhere is there an attempt to assess what actually works, where and why, and how such practices may be adapted to fit various situations. Without such knowledge, industries and communities will continue to butt heads over whether and where hydraulic fracking should occur, how it should occur, and what accountability should exist between the oil and gas industry and local communities. The year-long assessment will be led by CDR Senior Program Manager Todd Bryan, Ph.D. and will be guided by an advisory group composed of regional representatives from industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and field researchers.
The goal of the WestConnect Coalition is to foster regional alliances and collaboratively design and implement transportation solutions to improve safety and mobility in the western area of the Denver metro region. The Coalition has now selected a technical consultant, David Evans and Associates, to lead the Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study.
Jonathan Bartsch has been meeting with each of the jurisdictions to identify their unique issues and concerns, facilitating a technical working group and leading the policy level steering committee.
Jonathan and the CDR team will continue to lead the consensus building effort for the Coalition including support for the public engagement process during the 18-month PEL process. Stay tuned for more updates as the PEL gets underway.
As fracking technology has enabled oil and gas companies increasingly to drill near communities, tensions involving industry, community advocates, state regulators, and local governments have escalated on Colorado’s Front Range. While local governments in western Colorado have had to find ways to address local concerns about the impacts of oil and gas drilling for years, the debate has reached a new level as production has moved to the populated cities on the east side of the Rockies.
Among the strategies used by local governments to address the impacts of oil and gas development are Memoranda of Agreement (MOUs) with operators to define how, and under what conditions, local development may occur. While the use of MOUs has drawn some mixed reactions from stakeholders regarding their efficacy, enforceability and transparency, MOUs have been increasingly utilized to address oil and gas concerns at the local level while avoiding lawsuits over the authority of communities to regulate oil and gas development.
What types of MOU provisions and processes have effectively addressed local concerns while reducing polarization over the issues? Which have done so less successfully? What have been the most significant challenges or barriers to the use of MOUs in this context? What are the greatest opportunities for using MOUs to build broadly supported outcomes? These are among the questions CDR is asking, along with the Intermountain Oil and Gas Best Management Practices (BMP) Project, originally a project of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School. With grants from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Colorado Energy Office and others, the project will result in a searchable repository of Colorado oil and gas MOUs and the best management practices they contain, as well as a stakeholder assessment regarding the use of MOUs in Colorado.
Legal conflicts over water often involve multiple stakeholders with varying levels of technical knowledge and political power along with passionately-felt values, needs and fears. Positions can be entrenched and degrees of trust are often low. How can attorneys encourage parties to work collaboratively in this type of environment? What do parties need in order to engage in a collaborative process, outside of litigation? What contributes to building a credible, productive problem-solving process and ensuring key stakeholders are at the table?
CDR’s Ryan Golten was a featured panelist at the American Bar Association’s Water Law Conference in Austin this March to address these questions with an audience of roughly 200 water attorneys. Along with fellow panelist Eric Hecox of South Metro Water Supply Authority, she discussed strategies and approaches for engaging parties in collaborative approaches to multi-party water disputes and transactions. Her discussion and paper included case-study examples to illustrate how to assess the workability of a collaborative approach, structure a credible process, and ensure key stakeholders are involved, along with other strategies to set up a problem-solving process to help ensure a successful, broadly supported outcome.
Building off of years of CDR experience with the Clean Water Act, CDR facilitated meetings regarding program revisions to Michigan’s Section 404 program.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 requires permits for discharge of fill material into Waters of the United States. In 48 states, permits are issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michigan is one of two states that have assumed the authority of the 404 permitting program. Michigan’s 404 Program must be consistent with CWA regulations. The EPA is responsible for oversight of the CWA, including assuring state programs, such as Michigan’s, meet the minimum requirements and are not less stringent than the Clean Water Act and implementing regulations.
In 2008, following a program review, the EPA identified inconsistencies between Michigan’s CWA Section 404 program and federal requirements. The EPA published the inconsistencies and required corrective actions in order for Michigan to maintain authority of its CWA Section 404 program. While the State of Michigan addressed many of the required corrective actions through PA 98 it also introduced additional program revisions including changes to the scope of jurisdiction over wetlands and other state waters, new exemptions and permit provisions as well as other program revisions.
The EPA and the Corps will interpret suggested program revisions outlined in PA 98, for consistency with the CWA. Based on the findings, the EPA will decide to approve or disapprove each program revision independently, and determine Michigan’s continued authority over 404 permitting.
Informational Public Meeting and Hearing and Comment Summary
CDR Principal, Jonathan Bartsch, facilitated a public hearing and summarized the public comments regarding the Michigan program revisions. Working in collaboration with EPA Region 5 and headquarters, Bartsch designed and facilitated an informational public hearing attended by over 100 representatives from agricultural, environmental, energy and other sectors.
The comments from the hearing as well as from written submissions were summarized and organized by CDR to provide EPA the ability to respond to the proposed program revisions. A significant divergence of opinion was expressed regarding the proposed program modifications with a wide range of opinions regarding whether or not to support the modifications. Most commenters, both supporting and opposing approval of program revisions, indicated a desire for Michigan to continue with its delegated 404 authority. The preponderance of comments cited the importance of continuing state administration of the 404 Program due to the improved customer service and rapport developed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) with stakeholders, geographic conveniences including multiple district offices, timely processing of permits, and an understanding of the unique needs and conditions of Michigan environment and economy.
For additional information, contact CDR project leadJonathan Bartsch, Jbartsch@mediate.org
Stay tuned as EPA makes a decision regarding how to proceed with the program revisions to the Clean Water Act 404 provisions in Michigan.
Coaching helps individuals make significant strides in their lives, in areas in which they want to grow, change or overcome challenges. CDR Associates is now providing coaching services as part of our commitment to help organizations increase their effectiveness and productivity. We support thriving work environments by helping individuals and teams tap into their passions, purpose and expertise, and outline how to make their ideal a reality. Our coaching builds individual’s capabilities to take on increased responsibility, leverage skills and maximize impact. It also helps address challenging behaviors or high conflict situations, and facilitates transitions.
Our coaches ask thought-provoking questions to help clients determine their own paths forward. We are deep and strategic listeners who are able to raise patterns or insights that clients may not be able to see when they are steeped in their individual experiences. We help clients set meaningful goals and next steps and serve as an accountability mechanism. While our coaches are not strategic advisors, there are often times in which it is helpful for us to “take off the coach hat” and share our collaboration and conflict resolution expertise.
Laura Sneeringer, CDR Senior Program Manager, is in the midst of obtaining International Coach Federation certification through the Coaches Training Institute. CTI is a recognized leader in the coaching field with a 12-month comprehensive training program. Its Co-Active Model creates a supportive space for clients to deepen and forward their goals. Laura is also trained as a conflict coach and uses these skills regularly within her projects. Contact Laura Sneeringer to set up an introductory session and learn more about coaching. More information on the full spectrum of organizational services CDR provides is available here.