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“People want the most effective, productive, and rewarding way of working together to achieve a common end. They want the process and the relationships forged therein to meet their personal needs for belonging, meaningful contribution…[and] having the opportunity for personal growth…Understanding and accepting diversity allows us to acknowledge that each of us has a need to be needed, to contribute in some way. It also enables us to begin admitting that we do not and cannot know or do everything and that we must rely on the strengths of others with complete trust.”


Dr. Chris Maser

Resolving Environmental Conflict: Towards Sustainable Community Development, St. Lucie Press, 1996. Used by permission

Environmental Planning Strategies, Inc. helps you untangle the process web of disjointed

planning and NEPA compliance now unnecessarily hobbling many projects and programs in delays, conflict, and unexpected costs

 Environmental Planning Strategies, Inc, in business since 1994, effectively leverages the empowered expertise of agency and organizational manages and staff


The Facilitated Planning Approach Applies to:

  • Integrated project and program planning

  • NEPA
  • Environmental Review
  • Environmental Consultations Permitting
  • The Military
  • Transportation
  • Natural resources management
  • Endangered species
  • Invasive Species
  • Timber management
  • Water / Sewer Infrastructure
  • Fisheries Research
  • Many Other Sectors

You can also train your professionals how to use this approach themselves Workshop

What is the Facilitated Planning Approach™?

Definition: The interdisciplinary process of project teams led by an Informed Facilitator™ in partnership with the project/program manager used to integrate project and program planning and environmental and social analysis, consultations, and regulatory compliance into informed decision making.


Description: The Facilitated Planning Approach™ enables agency/organizational managers and subject matter professionals to collaborate in conducting project planning and preparing necessary documents, while removing obstacles and organizational what barriers minimizing agency, organizational, and public conflict. The interdisciplinary team members and manager focus their extensive expertise to produce efficient, collaborative, and systematic interdisciplinary results while honoring inherently governmental and organizational functions and responsibilities. The skills of the highly qualified and experienced Informed Facilitator™ partnered with an empowered team manager and interdisciplinary team members leverage the interdisciplinary work of in-house and contractor expertise, enabling managers to make timely and informed decisions.

What is Informed Facilitation™ as Practiced by Environmental Planning Strategies, Inc?

Definition: The Informed Facilitator™ is an experienced, objective, and neutral professional informed in the laws, regulations, agency/organizational planning and compliance procedures, technical information, science, and Facilitated Planning Approach™ pertinent to the analysis and decisions.


Description: The Informed Facilitator™ is proficient in the development, practice, and implementation of practical and adaptable project planning and public engagement strategies. She knows and applies applicable agency regulations and policies and is experienced in facilitating interdisciplinary, collaborative planning and problem solving. She has substantial expertise in natural resources management, agency or organization operating cultures, legal requirements, and program and project design and associated sciences. Before arriving on-site, she carefully studies the relevant science, reports, and technical information related to each project. She effectively uses interdisciplinary planning and NEPA procedures as the overarching model to integrate design, cost, environmental, social, and economic factors into planning and decision making. Effective communication, facilitation, and ongoing team coaching translates single disciplinary technical knowledge into thorough and meaningful interdisciplinary understanding and analyses.

What are the Four Critical Components of The Facilitated Planning Approach™?

A team of interdisciplinary subject matter professionals working collaboratively. Team responsibilities include: reviewing and refining drafts; providing data and conducting analyses; asking and answering key planning questions including those from inserted the Informed Facilitator™ and correcting, revising, and editing draft documents in a reader-friendly NEPA compliant format correcting, revising that moves the planning progress forward.

 A skilled Informed Facilitator™, who is knowledgeable of the requisite laws, regulations, agency procedures, and pertinent science, politics, and strategies. The Informed Facilitator™ partners with the project manager and interdisciplinary planning team to objectively guide and coach the Team's that work to increase effectiveness, focus inquiry and creatively solve problems.

 An organizational/project manager who interprets policy and project scope, identifies needs ripe for decision, removes institutional obstacles, manages schedules and Team member commitments, and makes pertinent administrative decisions.

The Informed Facilitator™ manages Team meetings, and records the results of the planning effort concurrently with the progress of planning and analysis directly in a “reader-friendly” format of the NEPA or other planning document, avoiding the redundant preparation of technical reports and meeting minutes.

Efficient Interdisciplinary Planning
Focuses on the proposed action not the need
Focuses on solving the underlying problem
Ignores other reasonable solutions
Recognizes the variety of effective solutions
Stovepipes interaction
Collaborates with disciplinary experts to understand the issues and options
Uses encyclopedic information with no analysis
Analyzes key information using cause-and-effect inter-relationships to interpret issues and create options

Focuses on interests and positions, causing conflict

within a bartering negotiation

Focuses on underlying needs and issues to create common understandings and collaborative solutions, minimizing conflict
Information does not provide understanding of effects
Analysis based on cause-and-effect inter-relationships informs team members, the public, and decision makers of the effects and outcomes of decisions
Compliance with other requirements and laws occurs piecemeal, independently, and consecutively

Compliance with other requirements and laws integrated seamlessly into planning and decision making

Planning documents gather dust on the shelves

Planning is dynamic and adaptive, with results consulted often, guiding future actions and decisions

Long lists, generic actions, and vague promises

Create effective alternatives and adjust projects and programs to actually reduce impacts, cost-effectively

Building Consensus and Accountability

Disciplinary turf wars and disrespect


Interdisciplinary understanding, integration, and support

Reports, memos, and emails

Discussing and sharing information together, documenting concurrent with the analysis

Resistance and sabotage of decisions

Full support of decisions and commitment to implementation

Planning progresses smoothly, collaboratively, productively, and cost-effectively, building on and refining previous work

Costly delays and time needed due to “repeat planning” and disciplinary competition

Team members do not care about other disciplines

Team members learn other disciplines naturally and respectfully

Winners and losers” are often defined by their endurance

Organizational relationships, informed decision making and environmental and social sustainability are the “winners”

Self-Correcting Capability

Planning advances without interim reviews in the wrong direction, then must be repeated and corrected, with significant delays and conflict

Planning progresses systematically, with constant necessary adjustments and refinements by the Team, management, stakeholders, and the public

Planning that Builds for the Future

Planning simply "puts the fire out"


Planning focuses on timely and analytic problem solving and decision making for the long-term

Relationships are repeatedly damaged, with distrust and competition

The processes foster long-term collaborative, trusting, and positive relationships

Speaking out is risky and careers are damaged

Diverse opinions and expertise are sought, valued, supported, and integrated affirmatively into planning and decision making

In partnership with Pathway Consulting Service, LLC, Environmental Planning Strategies, Inc specializes in the planning, environmental review, and permitting of projects requiring use of federal land, such as infrastructure energy, broadband, transportation projects, and other projects. Please see

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