January 14 pile burn in Rio Chama Watershed. Photo by Mary Stuever
BY SAGE FAULKNER
Chama Peak Land Alliance
The Rio Chama Congreso is the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership’s capstone event in partnership with Rio Grande Restoration. The Partnership is open to anyone with an interest in the health of the ecosystem in the Rio Chama Watershed including the basins that feed the Rio Chama from across the Continental Divide via the San Juan-Chama Diversion.
With an abundance of precaution and Covid-19 numbers trending upwards, the Congreso planning committee has adjusted the program for 2022. The event will be split; with important seasonal outlook information presented Feb. 25 via a webinar. Registration is free, and the 90-minute-long session will be packed full of key details for the region’s water and fire situations. Later, April 29 and 30th will be a hybrid with content for both in-person and virtual attendees, and will be held at the Rio Arriba Rural Events Center in Abiquiu.
This year’s theme is on Snow and Water in a Changing Climate. Events will include exhibits, discussions, speakers and panels with the latter event types available for online attendees. Saturday will offer multiple small-audience field tour options with a virtual summary of all trips at the end of the day.
Join other landowners, farmers, managers, agency managers, water partners, residents and students to figure out the year’s water outlook, along with the fire and forest outlook. The webinar will include both the 2022 water outlook from Mike Hamman, acting State Engineer and Water Advisor to the Governor, the 2022 fire outlook from Rich Naden, Fire Meteorologist, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation Improvement updates from Carolyn Donnelly, Albuquerque Water Operations Supervisor, Office of the Bureau Of Reclamation, on the El Vado Rehabilitation.
Chama Peak Land Alliance will also offer a virtual showing of the short film, “Fish & the Flame,” the award-winning 14-minute film showing Tim Haarmann, Banded Peak ranch manager, and Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist, collaborating to save one of the last remaining populations of rare and recently rediscovered San Juan cutthroat trout, just as wildfire threatens to decimate the fish.
“Private lands provide a critical refuge for biodiversity in the Upper Rio Grande and the Southern Rockies in general,” Caleb Stotts, executive director of the Chama Peak Land Alliance, says. “This story highlights just how dedicated to conservation landowners in our region are.”
The February webinar will end with a wrap up and a preview of the resource and opportunity laden agenda for the spring Congreso hybrid event in April.
For more information or to register for Rio Chama Congreso, http://www.sanjuanchama.org/events