Rosemont Mine Project Website

Welcome to the U. S. Institute's Rosemont Mine Project Website!

U.S. INSTITUTE UPDATE January 8th, 2009

The U.S. Institute issued a formal letter to the Forest Service on Janaury 8th, 2009, formally closing the Institute's involvement in the Rosemont Mine project.

Click here to read the letter: Rosemont Closure Letter [35kb PDF, 2 pages]


In October 2008, the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (U.S. Institute) announced that it would be conducting an assessment to determine whether it would be productive for a working group to analyze public comments that have been received by the U.S. Forest Service in response to the proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, approximately 30 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The U.S. Forest Service, several citizens' groups, and the Council on Environmental Quality had contacted the U.S. Institute about facilitating public dialogues regarding the proposal of the Rosemont Copper Company, a subsidiary of the Augusta Resource Corporation, to develop a copper mine adjacent to public land.

The U.S. Institute is a federal program established in 1998 by the U.S. Congress to assist parties in resolving environmental, natural resource and public land conflicts. Since its creation, the U.S. Institute has been involved in hundreds of environmental matters around the country. The role that the U.S. Institute plays in environmental conflict resolution ranges from undertaking basic diagnostic work (including situation assessments), to facilitating meetings, designing and convening collaborative processes, or assisting parties with mediation or other forms of assisted negotiation. Whatever the role, it is generally the practice of the U.S. Institute to conduct an initial assessment of a situation to determine whether its assistance can make a meaningful contribution to a particular project. If it is determined that the U.S. Institute cannot provide meaningful assistance to a project, it will convey its determination to the interested parties, and often suggest other options for them to pursue.

In terms of the request for assistance regarding the Rosemont Mine decision process, the U.S. Institute conducted an initial assessment to determine if it could work with the public and representatives of interested stakeholder groups to design an independent, transparent process for more effective public participation in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Since NEPA requires federal decision-makers to consider how federal actions may impact the human environment, the ultimate goal was to seek ways to more effectively engage the public in the NEPA process by having a public working group analyze the comments received on the mine proposal. In turn the U.S. Forest Service would use this analysis in considering and addressing concerns expressed in the public comments for the Draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

The U.S. Institute contracted the services of a third-party neutral, Carie Fox of Fox Mediation in Portland, Oregon, to undertake the assessment process. Fox served as the lead facilitator and primary contact for interested parties. Larry Fisher, Senior Program Manager at the U.S. Institute provided project management support.

For the past two months, the U.S. Institute and Fox have been meeting with interested parties to determine whether the initial design concept, a stronger integration of public input into the NEPA analysis, would be practicable. A public meeting to discuss initial findings of the assessment was held at Empire High School in Vail on November 13. More than 100 people attended the meeting to discuss Fox's findings and recommendations.

In late November, the U.S. Institute and Fox completed their assessment of the feasibility of convening a citizen's working group. On November 26, 2008, the U.S. Institute announced its conclusion that a broadly inclusive collaborative working group would not be a productive means of citizen involvement or an effective vehicle for enhancement of the Forest Service's NEPA analysis. Fisher and Fox concluded that it would be difficult for people to commit to a sustained, objective effort that focuses on the analysis, rather than the outcome, of the NEPA process.

U.S. Institute communicated these conclusions to the U.S. Forest Service, participants and the general public who have been involved in the initial assessment effort. Fox posted a letter here detailing some of the conclusions of the assessment.

In lieu of convening a collaborative working group, the U.S. Institute will continue to work with the public and with the Forest Service to explore other options for promoting meaningful public education and input, and greater transparency for the NEPA process. The U.S. Institute will continue to consult with all affected stakeholders as it considers any possible future role in providing neutral and independent services in support of this effort.

The U.S. Institute is a program of the Tucson-based Morris K. Udall Foundation, an independent agency of the executive branch overseen by a board of trustees appointed by the President. The Morris K. Udall Foundation was established in 1992 by Congress to honor the late Morris K. Udall's thirty years of service in the House of Representatives. For more information about the Udall Foundation, visit

The U.S. Institute serves as an impartial, non-partisan institution providing professional expertise, services and resources to all parties involved in environmental disputes. For more information about the U.S. Institute,

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