San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership

Protecting Drinking Water, Creating Landscape Resiliency, and Wood Utilization: Our Lands and Our Communities

The San Juan – Chama region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado contains forested watersheds of high value to both states. Located in the center of this region is the Bureau of Reclamation’s San Juan-Chama Diversion, which moves 110,000 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan Basin to the central Rio Grande Valley, providing approximately 50% of Santa Fe County’s and 90% of Bernalillo County’s water supply.

The area supports traditional agricultural operations, substantial wildlife populations, tourism-based economies, and public recreation, including internationally renowned hunting and outfitting opportunities. The San Juan-Chama Diversion water is essential for a variety of native fish and migratory birds. These watersheds continue to be at a very high risk of catastrophic wildfire and are experiencing significant forest mortality from insects and disease.  And yet, private landowners are pile burning significant amounts of woody debris from forest health projects because there is currently no place to send this resource for conversion into wood products.

This rural region is in need of local economic development that can be driven by forest resiliency practices and could be well-served by harvesting excess biomass from private and tribal lands to convert to wood products and/or renewable electricity and biochar.

To address these issues, a community-based partnership of stakeholders, led by private landowners in the Chama Peak Land Alliance, launched the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership and was created in January of 2014 to support collaborative planning and decision-making. This community-based partnership is working to increase the resiliency and ecosystem health of the watershed. The same private landowners that helped start the partnership also manage much of the land that supplies the San Juan – Chama diversion waters. This is a unique opportunity because these landowners directly manage their lands with forest health, agriculture, wildlife, and watershed resilience in mind. The Chama Peak Land Alliance is working with a variety of stakeholders to find a path forward. At the same time, the partners are working to develop a public-private investment framework necessary to conduct forest health treatments, secure wood utilization efforts, and seek funding.

Click here to watch a 3 minute video on the partnership.

Click here for a 2 page summary of the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership wood utilization and bioenergy efforts.

Visit the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership website!