Mule deer and Elk Status Report Update Published

In 2014, the Alliance contracted with Tom Watts, Southwest Wildlife Services LLC, to complete a study of mule deer and elk in the Alliance region. The resulting report was an attempt to consolidate all of the pertinent information regarding mule deer and elk populations inhabiting the upper San Juan and Chama River Basins for the benefit of CPLA Members and landowners interested in maintaining healthy wildlife populations in the region.

This year, Tom has completed an update to the 2014 report that includes an additional three years of data (2014-2016) and provides a current assessment of elk and mule deer herds in the region. Tom is also working on updates to landowner recommendations, which will be released this summer.

You can read the update HERE.

New informal networking group - The Watering Hole!

Have you ever wished there were more opportunities to chat with your fellow land owners or managers and share stories or ideas in an informal setting? You're in luck! Please join us next Friday at 5 pm at Riff Raff Brewing in Pagosa Springs for the first gathering of "The Watering Hole"! This is a great opportunity for networking and sharing among owners, managers, or anyone involved in land management. The group will meet on the third Friday of every month so if you can't make it this time we'll see you in June!

Friday, May 18th at 5 pm at Riff Raff Brewing, Pagosa Springs.

Welcome Caitlin Barbour - 3rd Year VISTA Volunteer!

This month we welcomed Caitlin Barbour as the 2018-2019 AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer for Chama Peak Land Alliance and the Bureau of Reclamation! Caitlin hails from Gilroy, California and has a Bachelors of Science in Oceanography from Humboldt State University in California and is enrolled in Fisheries & Wildlife Management at Oregon State University. Caitlin is interested in the environment as a whole, with a particular focus on community collaboration around natural resource management issues.

Caitlin was drawn to this position in New Mexico for the opportunity to work in environmental management, especially the connections to forestry and fisheries projects. So far Caitlin has enjoyed the friendliness of the community and she looks forward to continuing those relationships and creating more in this coming year! Caitlin will be living and working primarily in Chama so look for her around town!

Our 2017-2018 VISTA Volunteer, Emma Kelly, is relocating to Santa Fe, NM for work and school. Emma immensely enjoyed her year in Chama and plans to visit frequently.

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NMG&F Certification of Non-Navigable Stream Properties - Update and Resources

The following is an update on the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish regulatory process to certify a stream section "non-navigable" and allow private landowners in New Mexico who meet certain criteria to sign a stream segment as private. This information is provided by Dan Perry, of the New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative and a Lifetime Member of the Chama Peak Land Alliance, and has been lightly edited for clarity.

Recently the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMG&F) created a regulatory process to certify that a stream section is “non-navigable” for the purposes of N.M. Statutes Annotated 17-4-6. If that stream section is determined to be “non-navigable” as of 1912 (when NM entered the Union), and the landowner posts no trespassing signs and publishes notices as required by the statute, the landowner may prohibit uninvited individuals from entering his or her land through that stream.

NMG&F must determine if the stream section is “non-navigable” because that is the standard promulgated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of PPL v. Montana (2010).

The NM Department of Game & Fish promulgated the “Landowner Certification of Non-Navigable Water” rule in Title 19 (Natural Resources and Wildlife), Chapter 31 (Hunting and Fishing), Part 22. This rule went into effect in late January this year.

In summary, a New Mexico landowner wanting to get his or her stretch of land certified under the rule must submit a written application to the Dept. That application must set forth some general data about the applicant and the section of land involved, including a map and title history back to 1912. The application for certification must give published notice for 3 consecutive weeks in a newspaper that is in general circulation in the area where the stream section is located. Then the applicant must provide “substantial evidence” that the stream section was “non-navigable” at the time NM achieved statehood in 1912. The Director then has 60 days to make a written determination. There are various procedures for how that determination is to be made. Either the landowner or a “person with standing” may appeal the determination to the district court. Once a determination of “non-navigability” is made, the landowner must comply with certain sign posting requirements. 

I formed and am the President of the New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative (“NMHCI”). This entity qualified as a nonprofit by the IRS under Section 501(c)(4).

NMHCI commissioned from the Modrall Sterling law firm a detailed expert witness report that assesses the “non-navigability” of streams in NM in 1912. NMHCI will provide this report to qualified members of NMHCI, who will also be asked to contribute a non-tax deductible donation. The amount of the donation will vary depending on a variety of matters.

Each landowner applicant will probably also need the assistance of an attorney to draft and file the application, as well as put their supporting chain of legal title and related documents together as part of the application. However, a landowner could conceivably do this on his or her own. If there is an appeal to the district court, the landowner will almost certainly need to retain an attorney. I can provide a list of qualified attorneys to members of NMHCI.

I hope this information is helpful to you and the CPLA. Also, please let CPLA members know about the NMHCI, and that I am here to assist them if they wish to proceed with filing an application for certification with the NMG&F Department.

Dan Perry may be contacted at The New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative is a 501(c)(4) organization which engages in the study and research of fish and wildlife, and develops and advocates for legislation, regulations, and government programs to protect the habitat of fish and wildlife in New Mexico. 

Chama Prescribed Fire Training Exchange

As part of our Forest and Watershed Health Program, the Chama Peak Land Alliance (CPLA) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and other regional partners will be hosting a Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) in Chama, NM this spring.  The intent of this training is to provide opportunities for local and regional firefighters, scientists and managers to work and train together, build their experience in prescribed fire practices, fire effects, and other conservation efforts affecting forests, woodlands and grasslands in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

The Chama Peak Land Alliance (CPLA) and partners are working collaboratively across ownership boundaries to improve the resiliency of regional forests and watersheds to catastrophic wildfire, forest insect and disease outbreaks, and climate change impacts. One-third of New Mexico’s drinking water is sourced from the San Juan-Chama Watershed, a matrix of private and public lands in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. By working together we are increasing the capacity of private landowners and public agencies to improve forest health at scale and protect vital water, wildlife, and cultural resources. Collaborative partnerships active in the region include the Rio Grande Water Fund, the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, the San Juan-Chama Watershed Partnership, and the 2-3-2 Cohesive Strategy Partnership. More information and links to these groups may be found at

We'll be watching the weather as we get closer to spring. Recent dry weather may preclude conducting prescribed burns, in which case we will evaluate the event and seek other meaningful training and work opportunities for participants.

We invite professional wildland firefighters and prescribed fire practitioners, fire and resource managers, ecologists, biologists, conservationists, students and faculty, researchers and scientists from federal, state, tribal, non-governmental and private organizations to be part of our burn team.

Join us for hands-on burning and learning in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Everyone is welcome; if you do not have the minimum training requirements we will provide them to you. There is no cost for basic training. Event registration fees may be waived for local participants.

More information and the registration form can be found here.

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We have a new website!

Hello Neighbor!

Did you notice something different when you came to our website? It's brand new! Websites, just like everything, age with time and become difficult to manage. We like to keep things easy and provide high-quality content, so it was time for a refresh!

Like any piece of complicated work you might see a typo or two. If so, please let us know by emailing Is there particular content you're looking for? We'd love to hear about that too!

If you're having any trouble viewing our site or content please try clearing your browser's cache...sometimes those old pages stick around for a while.

We hope you enjoy our updated website!

The Chama Peak Land Alliance

Benefit Raffle

Support private land conservation and win one of four big game hunts or a fly fishing trip!

Drawing July 14, 2018

Fully guided hunts are available for bull elk, mule deer, Barbary sheep, and white-tailed deer. The guided fly fishing trip includes prime trout stream and pond habitat fishing opportunities. Your purchase of a raffle ticket provides critical support to the Chama Peak Land Alliance and our private land conservation mission. These hunting and fishing opportunities are donated by Alliance members who generously give their time and resources to support the organization--thank you!

More details are available HERE.

Third Annual Rio Chama Congreso - Registration is open!

Sponsored by the San Juan-Chama Watershed Partnership, the third annual Rio Chama Watershed Congreso is to be held March 10, 2018 from 8 am to 5 pm at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

The congreso concept is that collaborative decision-making can combine local knowledge with scientific management to sustain indigenous cultures, provide educational and economic opportunity for young residents and protect our resources. Last year’s event explored a dozen river and watershed restoration projects that have potential to improve the quality of life for all residents-ranchers, villagers, and recreationists who rely on the Rio Chama. This year’s theme is “Fire & Water – Building Resilience on Our Landscape.”

You are invited to participate! Together with students and other citizens, agencies (Forest Service, Game and Fish, State Engineer) and non-governmental organizations (Rio Grande Water Fund, NM Association of Conservation Districts, Chama Peak Land Alliance, Rio Grande Restoration, and others) help to decide how to best address our water and land management challenges in the Chama Basin.

Please SHARE this invitation and if you find others in your community or agency are also interested, by all means urge them to register. There is no charge to participate. You can download the full agenda here.


Questions or prefer to register by phone? Contact Steve Harris at home/office: 575-751-1269;  575-770-2502 cell or:

We're hiring! AmeriCorp VISTA Volunteer position open until Feb. 16th

Opportunity: The Chama Peak Land Alliance (CPLA) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) are requesting that interested individuals respond to this inquiry for a Conservation Legacy DOI/AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer position to be based in Chama, New Mexico. This is a 1 year position beginning in spring 2018.
Deadline: Friday, February 16th. (Please note that the AmeriCorps website gives “Accepting Applications” date until March 3rd; Final selection will be completed by Feb. 26th; Start date March 26th)

Position Summary: The San Juan – Chama DOI/VISTA Volunteer will work under the supervision of CPLA and BOR to increase watershed health in the San Juan – Chama region through strategic planning and impact assessment of forest health projects; help to alleviate poverty in Rio Arriba County by supporting a natural resource-based economy and community needs; and build organizational capacity for CPLA and the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership (SJCWP) through increased partnerships, fundraising, and strategic planning. Responsibilities include seeking funding opportunities and writing grants; developing and implementing outreach plans via a variety of media to communities, partners, and private landowners; assist with coordination of partner communication and project implementation; assist with planning and implementation of workshops, trainings, the Rio Chama Congreso annual conference, and other educational or outreach efforts; and assist with efforts to engage new stakeholders in local communities and conservation partners.

Qualifications: Preference will be given to individuals who reside locally in the region, however, out of state candidates are welcome to apply. Candidate should have excellent communication skills and have an interest in organizational development, poverty alleviation, and conservation. VISTA Volunteers are government employees and must have a valid U.S. driver’s license.
Stipend and Resources: The VISTA Volunteer will be provided with a monthly stipend that is equivalent to 105% of the poverty line for Rio Arriba County. Housing, utilities, office space, computer, cell phone, and a vehicle will be provided by the Bureau of Reclamation. Other benefits include a limited health plan, forbearance on qualified student loans, an educational award, and a professional development stipend.

For more information:

To learn more about the DOI/VISTA Program:

Apply online HERE