Resolving an Environmental Conflict Through Values Mapping

Paul Wehr

Paul Wehr. Resolving an Environmental Conflict Through Values Mapping

Values mapping was developed to help resolve a conflict over Adam's Rib, a proposed ski area in Western Colorado. Residents of the county involved were deeply divided over the proposal. The decision to approve or disapprove the ski area was to be made by the county commissioners.  A vote of the population was not possible. The commissioners had only comments from interest groups on either side to guide their decision.

A survey was done of a random sample of county residents. They were asked to create their preferred future for the county, choosing differing amounts of several community values (for example open space, educational quality, pace of life, economic vitality). These value preferences were then combined into scenarios which illustrated the preferred future of county residents. That future was then compared with predictions from impact assessment studies to give a rough measure of the degree to which the changes from ski development would approximate the citizens' preferred future.

In this case, values mapping was used by the third party with the decisional responsibility, and it led to a decision to disapprove the proposed ski area. But there is no reason why the same technique would not facilitate cooperative resolution in interpersonal and intergroup conflict.

Supporting Literature: Roger Fisher, International Conflict for Beginners , New York:Harper and Row, 1970; John Rohrbaugh and Paul Wehr, "Judgment Analysis in Policy Formation: A New Method for Improving Public Participation," Public Opinion Quarterly ,42:4, 1978; Paul Wehr and John Rohrbaugh, "Citizen Values and Forest Policymaking,"Western Sociological Review , 9:1, 1978.

Summary by Tanya Glaser

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