How we started
Congress established the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution in 1998. The U.S. Institute's mission is to help
resolve environmental disputes that involve the federal government, by providing mediation, training and related services.
Included within the term "environmental" disputes are conflicts related to the environment, public lands and natural resources.
Congress also directed the U.S. Institute to work to further the implementation of our National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by
providing negotiation, mediation, and other settlement efforts as alternatives to litigation.
Congress placed the U.S. Institute within the Udall Foundation. The Foundation is an independent federal agency based in
Tucson, Arizona. As a result, the U.S. Institute is part of the federal government - but it is completely independent of all other
federal agencies. Congressional sponsors of the legislation creating the Institute thought it was appropriate for it to be part of
the Udall Foundation, as Sen. John McCain said, because Morris Udall's career "was distinguished by his integrity, service and
commitment to consensus-building."
More information on the Udall Foundation is available at udall.gov.
Mission and Goals
The U.S. Institute has three primary goals:
Resolve environmental conflicts and improve environmental decision-making by the appropriate use of ECR through U.S. Institute case
Resolve environmental conflicts and improve environmental decision-making by increasing the capacity of agencies and other affected
stakeholders and practitioners to manage and resolve conflicts through the appropriate use of ECR.
Resolve environmental conflicts and improve environmental decision-making by providing leadership to guide ECR practice and policy
development within the federal government.
Since 1998 the U.S. Institute has been an impartial entity inside the federal government, independent of other agencies, that provides
conflict resolution services to help public and private interests manage and resolve environmental conflicts nationwide. The U.S.
Institute carefully guards its independence and impartiality. The Board of Trustees for the Foundation has adopted a strong
conflict of interest policy, which emphasizes that the U.S. Institute's dispute resolution work is entirely
independent of and without influence from the Board.
The 2005 Federal Policy Memorandum on ECR recognizes the U.S. Institute's status as a key provider of ECR
services, and encourages Federal agencies to draw on U.S. Institute services to increase the effective use of ECR.
The U.S. Institute has a staff of about 30, including Deputy Executive Director for Environmental Conflict Resolution program
managers, project and administrative staff. The Institute provides services nationwide and frequently partners with private-sector mediators
and facilitators who are located in the geographic area of a dispute. These outside mediators are among the more than 300 members of the
Institute’s National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building Professionals. This resource is also available to
anyone searching for an ECR professional at Roster of ECR Practitioners.
In addition to their mediation and facilitation skills, the Institute's professional staff have backgrounds in many related fields,
including law, public policy, natural resource and public lands management, urban planning, air quality, transportation, energy, and
Native American issues. Meet our staff.
The U.S. Institute gets its funding from two sources: annual appropriations and fees paid for the services it provides.
The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution is a program of the Udall Foundation, a federal agency. In fiscal
2010, Congress appropriated $3.8 million for the Institute, which pays a portion of our basic operating expenses.
Funding from Fees
Each year, the Institute generates about $2.5 million to $3.5 million from other groups (primarily other federal agencies, but also
state, county and tribal governments, non-governmental organizations and others) in fees for conflict resolution services. Most of
this funding is paid to contracted mediators and facilitators who work with the Institute on conflict resolution projects. The balance
supplements our basic operating expenses.