Climate and Water

The Chama Peak Land Alliance is exploring climate and water issues as an integral part of our overall programmatic goals.

Water

To launch our discussion on water, CPLA showed Beyond the Mirage, a documentary produced by the University of Arizona: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Water Resources Research Center, and Arizona Public Media that examines the causes and impacts of water scarcity in the west. Through the round table discussion we brought together a local perspective that examined the water demands of New Mexico and the connection between upland watersheds in Colorado and Northern New Mexico and water users downstream through the San Juan – Chama Diversion Project. We discussed a variety of water and land management practices and how organizations in the region are coming together to find positive solutions through collaboration at the landscape-scale through the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership.

Climate Change

A key component to any resilience strategy is addressing the affects of climate change on land and water management well into the future. A recent climate change model conducted by Dr. Jeremy Fyke of Cairn Climate Consulting and Los Alamos National Laboratory for the region indicates that expected trends include warmer temperatures resulting in more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, an increase in frost free days, and a much higher climatic moisture deficit that could result in tree mortality, especially at higher elevations.

Using the outputs of this climate change model, we expect to see a change in ecosystem structure and function through variances in vegetative growth especially at higher elevations. This information will be taken into consideration through forest treatment design, including re-seeding and re-planting of “native” vegetation that reflects the warming and drying trends that will be seen in the next 20-100 years. Dr. Fyke’s continued technical advisement on future forest resiliency work will form an innovative and science-based aspect to inform forest management/resiliency treatments, and assist with other resiliency-enhancing practices employed throughout this effort.

Click here for a poster on the climate change modeling efforts in the CPLA region.

Click here for a powerpoint presentation given on September 2, 2016 at the High Country Restaurant in Chama.