San Juan - Chama Watershed Partnership Meeting Summary

November 15, 2018

On November 9, 2018, the San Juan Chama Watershed Partnership (Partnership) held a meeting in Tierra Amarilla to discuss current projects and issues with the Rio Chama watershed.. Over thirty participants attended in the meeting including representatives from acequias, agencies, non-profits, schools, and local residents and land and water users.

The meeting began with review and acceptance of a governance document for the Partnership. The document sets up a structure for volunteer leadership and includes  an overview of the local geography and the Partnership’s history. The group revisited current committee structure with discussions about relevancy to current needs, leading to revised committees and recruitment of leadership and membership. The highlighted presentations were given by Manny Trujillo and Will Donahoo.

The committees presented were Biomass, Job Skills Pathways (formerly Work Force Development), Planning, and Congreso.

  • The Biomass Committee is co-chaired by John Ussery of Northern New Mexico College and Will Donahoo from Adelante Consulting.

  • The Job Pathways will be addressing needs within local communities that are needed to attract biomass related industries and will focus on young adults to cultivate skills and knowledge. The committee ID’d three needs - Supply, Transportation, and Work Force - as assets to be addressed. This committee is chaired by Rich Schrader with involvement from Ben Thomas of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Mary Stuever, and the AmeriCorps VISTA Caitlin Barbour.

  • Members of the Planning Committee have been engaged with past efforts to write the State Water Plan, National Forest Plans, SWCD Land Use Plans, and other agency planning efforts (CWPPs, etc). This committee is looking to engage with groups to determine needs and issues within the watershed and to advocate for these needs and issues by drafting, commenting, and providing input on various regional planning efforts. This committee is co-chaired by Lucia Sanchez from the State Engineers Office and Jessica Johnston from Cebolla-Nutrias Watershed Group.

  • The Rio Chama Congreso Committee develops and organizes the annual forum of the Partnership that is held annually at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. Congreso is a day-long event that brings in experts to speak on various issues involving the watershed system. Recurring information provided are updates to drought conditions, fire danger, and water management and supply. This committee is chaired by Steve Harris with continuing involvement from Mary Stuever, Emma Kelly & Dagmar Llewellyn from the Bureau of Reclamation, Emily Hohman, and Caitlin Barbour.

Manuel Trujillo, who is a former Mayordomo and has been practicing water management since he was 10, presented on the need for water storage capacity for the northern acequia users. He emphasized the need for water management that addressed concerns about future water conditions and that encouraged collaboration over competition between acequias. Potential benefits to a storage system and revisions to water management are a boosted economy, managed stream flows for native habitat, and preservation of culture and language.

Donahoo presented on a biomass feasibility study that addresses forest management issues in New Mexico. Through these feasibility studies, Adelante Consulting identified barriers for New Mexico that include the state not producing as much forest products as the Northwest and local small diameter wood having low value. Through the studies, the questions “what can you do that might not bring industry now, but could take material in the future” and “how do we incentivize the benefit of forest thinning products” were brought up. A potential answer is in using biochar and carbon products. John Ussery of Northern New Mexico College provided input on the potential of such products with examples from projects occurring on the campus to produce energy.

The following are updates provided by partners:

  • The Chama Chili Ski Classic is planned to occur from January 19th-21st. To keep up to date with the Chama Chili Ski Classic you can follow the website or follow the ski classic on Facebook at

  • The Partnership has a need for project ideas and possible housing for the AmeriCorps VISTA for the next few years. AmeriCorps VISTA projects go for three years (or three VISTAs) and the current project is ending in March 2019 and projects cannot repeat. To continue providing support and capacity to the Partnership and its allies, the Advisory Committee is asking for any input to make the next project possible. Currently the Bureau of Reclamation, who is the financial sponsor for the VISTA, has been providing housing for the last three years, but that housing option will not be available for the next VISTA term. The Bureau of Reclamation does prefer that housing options be in the Chama Valley. If you know of a housing option please contact Dagmar Llewellyn or Emily Hohman.

  • Rio Grande Restoration is looking forward to spring collaborations that will look at flow impacts on river environments and are also interested in having collaborations to monitor El Vado changes for a 10-year duration.  

  • The Nutrias Watershed Group is having a meeting on November 27th at the Cebolla Community Center from 3 PM to 5 PM. 

  • The Rio Chama Acequia Association (RCAA) has negotiated storage capacity of 1,000 ac/ft for the next 25 years and is looking for water to store.

  • The Bureau of Reclamation is conducting a three-year Rio Grande NM Basin Study to study projections and strategies for dealing with reduced water supplies. This Basin Study is led by Dagmar Llewellyn and Emma Kelly is conducting outreach for this project.

  • The Carson National Forest will soon have Christmas Tree permits available. The Canjillon District will have permits available starting November 19th and the El Rito District will have permits available Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM starting November 17th.  

  • The Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) released the 2018 State Water Plan in August for public comment and will release it in their next meeting. ISC is expecting approval on December 6th for the State Water Plan.

  • Western Landowners Alliance is currently working on a trust fund for watershed health improvements and will keep the Partnership informed on progress.

  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is currently hiring two positions (both full-time, 1 permanent, 1 temporary) for their Albuquerque office. The Youth Corps is also looking to hire youth for their Taos and Albuquerque crews with March or April start dates. You can visit the Youth Corps website for more information or to apply at

  • Trout Stalker Ranch is looking to partner with interested parties to collect data on three-miles of river running through the ranch. The ranch is also currently developing an apprenticeship program related to ranching on conservation. If interested in more information or in collaborating, contact Brittany Wallace at

  • Escalante High School’s Claudia Reynoso is currently teaching her students how to research and write persuasively to develop funding for projects concerning water quality.

  • Chama Peak Land Alliance is currently looking to hire a contractor to assist with watershed work. For inquire about this opportunity, contact Emily Hohman at

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this meeting a success. We will next meet at the annual Rio Chama Congreso on February 23, 2019.  

Your Partnership Team,

Mary Stuever, Partnership Chair

Caitlin Barbour, AmeriCorps DOI/VISTA Volunteer


To read the current and in progress State Water and National Forest Plans, you can read them on the Interstate Stream Commission website and on the Carson Nation Forest website.

The fourth annual Rio Chama Congreso is February 23, 2019 at Ghost Ranch and will discuss Water Infrastructure within the Rio Chama Watershed. Stay tuned for more information.

To keep notified of developments, meetings, and Congreso, you can follow our Facebook page and you can sign up for our newsletter by submitting a contact form through the website.