Strategies and Tactics for the Experienced Natural Resource Negotiator

Science Center Objects

USGS's Social and Economic Analysis Branch at the Fort Collins Science Center offers an advanced negotiation training course each year. This group has been conducting and publishing research on multi-party natural resource negotiation since the 1980s. This research has led to the development of the "Strategies and Tactics for Experienced Natural Resource Negotiator" course. The course includes lecture, hands-on training, and discussion. Please join us and other natural resource professionals facing similar problems. Come prepared to candidly discuss examples of successes to embrace, stalemates to recognize, and pitfalls to avoid. 

Many Federal resource managers are required by statute to consult on the management plans of Federal lands and Federal permits and licenses. These collaborative processes often include public involvement programs and are frequently controversial and contentious. Federal resource managers must be effective negotiators to participate in these processes in a manner that maximizes service to the public, is efficient in terms of time and money, and results in a product that meets agency missions. The courses are typically attended by Federal managers from a variety of agencies as well as State, local, and county agency personnel.

The training course is held at the Fort Collins Science Center, Colorado and provides participants with advanced principles, skills, and techniques used in natural resource negotiation. The focus is on strategy development and effective management of negotiating teams. Previous negotiating experience and training are prerequisites for this course. If students have not previously attended our more basic negotiation course or are not sure which class to attend, they should consult with instructors before registering for this class. Each class typically includes students from various federal agencies as well as state and local agencies. Ample time for discussion and student participation allows for exchange of ideas and experiences. 

The course is a dynamic mix of lecture, hands-on training, and discussion. Materials include a training coursebook and online readings. 

Day One

  • Elements of Advanced Negotiation
  • Ethics
  • Assessing Power
  • Stakeholder Assessment Techniques

Day Two

  • Structuring a Negotiation: Internal and External Architecture
  • Setting the Technical Direction
  • Judging BATNA and Selecting a Strategy
  • Setting the Operating Rules

Day Three

  • Multi-party Negotiation Role Play and Debriefing
  • Course Wrap-up and Evaluations


Payment: The cost of the negotiation training course is $950. Staci Unruh, a DOI Learn representative, will contact participants to collect payment prior to the course. Any questions regarding this process can be directed to Staci at 303-236-9351 or emailed to: The USGS Fort Collins Science Center does not directly accept payment.

For payment, USGS participants can charge USGS accounts. All other Federal government agencies will be billed via an IPAC, they need to provide Staci an Inter/Intra-Agency Agreement, or an SF-182. Please ensure that the following information is included: Agency Location Code, Treasury Account Symbol, DUNS#, and the billing contact's name, phone number and email. For State and local government agencies MasterCard and Visa are acceptable forms of payment.  

Cancellation policy: Please notify us one month before the beginning of the course if unable to attend to avoid paying a $75 cancellation fee.

Instuctor Information: Nina Burkardt is a Research Social Scientist with the Social and Economic Analysis (SEA) Branch at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center. Since 1987, she has worked with her SEA colleagues to help stakeholders plan and undertake collaborative decision processes, and has conducted research to determine factors leading to success in environmental negotiations. Results of this research have been published in Environmental Management, Wildlife Society Bulletin, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Water Resources Bulletin, Environmental Practice, International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior, and other peer-reviewed journals. She has a long standing interest in instream flow issues and has conducted research to evaluate the effectiveness of state instream flow policies. Ms. Burkardt is a past President of the Western Social Science Association and is active in this and several other professional groups. She has been teaching negotiation courses since 1992.

Participant Feedback:

"Helpful to differentiate skills of novice, advanced, and expert negotiator. Also, list of questions for thinking strategiclly about negotiation is very useful to help frame the negotiation context."

“Extremely helpful considerations for developing a negotiation strategy. Revelatory!”

“Helped me understand what it feels like to be at the negotiation table in a different role. What a change of perspective!”

“Great learning experience! Should be practiced prior to any negotiation.”

Return to Policy Analysis and Negotiation or Social and Economic Analysis