Wood Utilization Study

Healthy forests and watersheds are the foundation for land and community health, and sustainable local economies. Private landowners in the Alliance steward more than 200,000 acres of vital forests and headwaters.  Forest health issues transcend property boundaries and are a major concern for both private landowners, federal land managers and nearby communities. Successful management of forests and watersheds require collaborative landscape-scale management. Private lands play a critical role in this effort.

In 2012, the Alliance and Western Environmental Law Center received $50,000 from the USDA Rural Business Enterprise grant to conduct a healthy forests and wood utilization feasibility study. The Chama Peak Land Alliance has brought together all the relevant stakeholders in the region to develop a biomass utilization study funded by this grant. 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.

Download the Chama Healthy Forest and Wood Utilization Study here (.pdf, 23MB)

Study Findings

Findings from the study indicate the Chama region holds considerable potential for sustainable, commercial scale biomass utilization.  The development of a biomass plant in this region will help:

  • Protect vital watersheds by reducing forest fire risk
  • Reduce sediment loading after fire
  • Restore forest health by thinning overstocked stands
  • Create jobs & support state and local economies
  • Improve wildlife habitat
  • Sustain endangered silvery minnow and southwest willow flycatcher populations
  • Support public recreation
  • Produce sustainable, alternative forms of energy
  • Demonstrate effective partnership between the USFS and private landowners

The Chama Peak Land Alliance has developed the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership to work together to forward the goals set forth in the wood utilization study to restore forest and watershed health, create local energy, and support the rural economy of the San Juan – Chama region.