Vibrant Forests

We Creek Harvest unit 8-10

New Mexico Forest Inventory and Analysis Report

This report presents a summary of the most recent inventory of New Mexico’s forests based on field data collected between 2008 and 2012. The report includes descriptive highlights and tables of area, numbers of trees, biomass, volume, growth, mortality, and removals. Most sections and tables are organized by forest type or forest type group, species group, diameter class, or owner group. The report also describes the inventory’s design, inventory terminology, and data reliability. Results show that New Mexico’s forest land covers 24.8 million acres. Forty-four percent (10.8 million acres) of this forest land is privately owned, and another 31 percent (7.8 million acres) is administered by the USDA Forest Service.

The State’s most abundant forest type is pinyon/juniper woodland, which covers more than 10 million acres. Pinyon/juniper woodlands, combined with pure juniper woodland, cover a total of 13.6 million acres, or more than half of New Mexico’s forest land area. Gambel oak is the most abundant tree species by number of trees, and ponderosa pine is the most abundant by volume or biomass. New Mexico’s forests contain 17.5 billion cubic feet of net volume in trees 5.0 inches diameter and larger. Gross growth of all live trees 5.0 inches diameter and larger averaged 211.5 million cubic feet per year. Average annual mortality totaled 165.1 million cubic feet per year, and net growth was 46.4 million cubic feet per year, or 0.26 percent of the State’s total wood volume. Click Here To Read The Full Report

Wood Utilization Study for the San Juan – Chama Region

A community-based partnership of stakeholders, led by private landowners in the Chama Peak Land Alliance, recently completed a USDA-funded wood utilization study for the Chama, NM area.  The study was released in 2013 and is available by clicking here.

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:

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

However, while private and tribal lands can provide a substantial supply of biomass, a committed federal timber supply is necessary to attract investors and support a biomass facility long-term. Faced with budget constraints, federal land managers are limited in their ability to conduct the necessary planning and environmental analysis and cannot guarantee a federal wood supply. This paralysis, combined with changing climate conditions, has set the stage for fires, forest health declines and water impacts of historic proportion.

Working Together for Solutions

The Chama Peak Land Alliance, New Mexico State Forestry and Western Landowners Alliance are collaborating to find a path forward.  The San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership is being created to support collaborative planning and decision-making. At the same time, the partners are working to develop a public-private investment framework necessary to secure biomass supplies and funding.

By working together, we can avoid the enormous costs and losses that will result from continued inaction and instead restore health to our lands, protect our water, create jobs and provide alternative sources of renewable energy.

San Juan – Chama Biomass Opportunity

  • Diverse land ownership supports range of market opportunities
  • Available annual saw timber supply (> 14” dbh): 88,080 GT
  • Available annual non-saw timber supply (<14”): 145,470 GT
  • Year-round supply and operations possible
  • Land values and labor costs not inflated by urbanization or resort economies

We are now working on the second phase of this project to continue our efforts. If you would like to stay engaged and informed, just sign up for our e-newsletter on the home page.