One of the greatest threats to the region environmentally, economically and in quality of life is unplanned energy development. Alternatively, responsible energy development can provide economic benefits while also protecting important community values such as water, wildlife, cultural areas, and irrigated agriculture.

The Alliance has been organizing community and private landowner efforts in response to oil and gas development interest in the region. We have also developed an interactive landowner-driven planning and mapping project for the region that identifies and ranks community values on the landscape. This GIS-based map of community values can be integrated with other data layers such as wildlife habitat and local government land use plans to create a basis for landscape-scale planning of energy development.  Communities can then use this map to minimize potential energy development impacts to critical community resources such as municipal water supplies, high-value recreation, wildlife and agricultural production areas.

Proactive renewable energy development

A local solution to energy needs can come in the form of renewable biomass energy. The Alliance conducted a biomass utilization and bioenergy study  funded by the USDA Rural Economic Development Program in New Mexico.That study was completed in June 2013 and has identified emerging and appropriately scaled technologies and business models to help restore forest health, create jobs and potentially furnish renewable sources of energy. Now that the study is complete, the Alliance hopes to take the work to the next step, working with economic development partners, forest managers and other stakeholders to attract or develop a biomass facility.