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2 States, 3 Rivers, 2 Regions: Cohesive Strategy Partnership

Mission: To implement a cohesive strategy that supports coordinated management activities that better protect and preserve forest health, water quality, wildlife habitat, and communities within the San Juan-Chama and Rio Grande Watershed Landscape. Working across public and private lands we will boost capacity and coordinate work efforts on a landscape scale.

 

Statement of Need:

Southwest Colorado and Northern New Mexico are composed of rural communities embedded within a patchwork landscape of public, private, and tribal lands.  Often overlooked is that this region serves as the headwaters to rivers that supply water to nearly 1 million people in states and urban centers to the south and west. These essential watersheds are managed by three federal forests across two states and two United States Forest Service regions, Bureau of Land Management, private lands, state lands, and tribal lands. Forest conditions, a changing climate, and the increased intensity of wildfire demonstrate the need for improved coordination across boundaries. Representatives of the different management agencies, private landowners, and regional not-for-profit organizations have come together to discuss a cohesive, multi-faceted strategy to address forest health concerns and potential impacts to water. These groups understand that by working together, we can have a greater, more efficient impact on the landscape. This effort will make communities within the region, and down stream communities more resilient to wildfire, reduce post-fire impact to infrastructure, and secure vital community resources.

 

The Need:

  1. Fire and other important processes work on a large scale, and to restore them we need to think ecologically and not jurisdictionally.
  2. A warming and drying future make good watershed management critical, and impacts of our work could help secure water for close to a million people 
  3. All agencies are capacity limited.  We want better policies and agreements that will help us share and make the best use of the available resources
  4. We need to leverage all the money we have, and developing joint priorities will help us make the best use of money.

 

Vision:

  • Develop resilient landscapes and communities, where fire is able to burn in a manner that better reflects historic patterns
  • Prepare our communities and landscape for changes associate with climate change
  • Establish resilient water resources and economies
  • Protect and promote functioning wildlife populations, riparian areas for healthy ecosystems
  • Engage communities (*education around headwaters-urban connection is important)
  • Work collaboratively across public and private lands, with the support of state, federal, and tribal entities and established collaborative groups

 

Working Together We Hope to:

  1. Restore Forests and make them more resilient to wildfire, develop fire adapted communities, coordinate for more effective fire suppression
  2. Promote seamless integration/ coordination between national, state, tribal, and private constituents
  3. Work to erase state lines. In AZ, there is 4 forest restoration initiative and has been public lands focused. 2 states, 2 regions, 3 forests, public-private approach for improved wildfire response and watershed protection.
  4. Manage wildfires and values at risk.
  5. Come together and establish a community to work on existing and future issues

 

Goals: We plan to collaborate across boundaries in order to:

  • Develop smoother operations and response to ecosystem changes
  • Manage fire at the scale it which it operates naturally
  • Leverage funds/projects
  • Increase capacity by sharing personnel and resources to support on-the-ground projects,
  • Increase product utilization and contract workforce; coordinate industry in the region
  • Support regional needs (planning)
  • Promote public education & support
  • Plan for group resiliency

 

Objectives:

  • Establish a Learning network for the sharing and transfer of knowledge
  • Implement coordinated forest health treatment activities
  • Work to restore Fish and Wildlife habitat linkages 
  • Develop cross jurisdictional policy for prescribed fire and wildfire management
  • Support/ promote regional outlets for product utilization
  • Host events to inform the public & garner support

 

Structure

The group has identified a need for a Coordinator (possibly a shared position between organizations) that will continue to promote and encourage a cohesive strategy for the regional headwaters. This group will not replace individual group efforts, but it will maintain and develop a communications structure and organize memorandums of understanding to support fire management, outreach efforts and Improve efficiency of current capacity, including increasing capacity where necessary.

 

The group has formed committees to address:

  • Prescribed Fire
  • Biomass and Markets
  • Funding and support
  • Wildlife Connectivity
  • Information/ Education
  • Capacity and Efficiency – Development of Agreements

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