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:
- 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 fish and 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, 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