Defusing a Land-Use Showdown Between Westerners and Uncle Sam: Dispute Resolution to the Rescue

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, N.M. continued and expanded a violence prevention program through a dispute resolution and community decision-making process in Catron County, N.M., one of the most isolated counties in the continental 48 states.

The disputes in the county, which had reached a level where violence was feared, arose mainly from the county's role as a national leader of the "sagebrush rebellion," a movement focused on gaining local control of federal lands.

Under the project, which took place between February 1995 and July 1997, staff at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, designed and implemented a process of community problem solving and planning around the issues of land use and management, violence prevention, and economic development.

Key Results

  • The residents learned dispute resolution skills.

  • A video was produced that documents the dispute resolution process.

  • A national conference was held in Reserve, N.M., in July 1997 that shared lessons learned.