New Mexico Statewide Natural Resources Assessment, Strategy and Response Plans

Wildfire risk modeled by TNC during the development of the 2010 Statewide Assessment.

Wildfire risk modeled by TNC during the development of the 2010 Statewide Assessment.

The New Mexico Statewide Assessment, Strategy and Response Plans identify natural resource conditions, needs and opportunities across all land ownerships in the state. Based on the currently available statewide geospatial resource data, this set of collaboratively developed resource models and map products helps identify priority landscapes for restoration and resource management.

New Mexico Statewide Natural Resources Assessment

The Assessment was developed through a partnership between ENMRD Forestry Division, the New Mexico chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Guild, and nearly one hundred stakeholders and partners who provided the resource information, advice and insight that guided the project. The data of the Assessment were organized around eight data themes. Themes were suggested in the 2008 Farm Bill and outlined in guidelines provided by USDA Forest Service (Redesign Components: State Assessments & Resource Strategies). Some of these themes were adapted for New Mexico by the Stakeholders.

These themes are (with Forest Service language in parentheses if adapted):

  • Biodiversity (Fish and Wildlife Habitat)

  • Development Potential (Development Risk)

  • Economic Potential

  • Forest Health (Risk)

  • Fragmentation (Forest Fragmentation)

  • Green Infrastructure

  • Water Quality and Supply

  • Wildfire Risk

Further information on the resource data models developed for the Assessment is available in the Data Atlases: Methods and Descriptions of Core Data Models. Maps are also available.

New Mexico Forestry Division Statewide Strategy and Response Plans

The New Mexico Forestry Division Strategy and Response Plans intend to guide long-term Forestry Division management. In the Strategy Plan, the resource models were combined to represent Four Key Themes to help the Division identify priority landscapes for management.

  • Conserve Working Landscapes

  • Protect Forests and Watersheds from Harm

  • Enhance Public Benefit From Natural Resources

  • Promote Urban and Community Forestry

For each Key Theme, the Forestry Division identified the Issues, Trends, Barriers to Addressing the Issues and the Strategies proposed for implementation and delineated the priority landscapes where the Forestry Division and partners can work to address the issues. In the Response Plan, the Forestry Division identified how they plan to invest programmatic and personnel resources to address the priorities proposed in the Strategy Plan, including how federal and other funding will be invested and how Forestry Division objectives align with national State and Private Forestry objectives. Online copies of the document are available.


Wildfire Risk (November 2009)

  • The Wildfire Risk data model identifies areas with a relatively high risk of destructive wildfire. The intent of this layer is to highlight areas where management is most likely to reduce the risk of wildfire damage, which is defined as reducing the impact of wildfire on natural resources, and human infrastructure and development. The model combines three modeled fire behavior parameters (rate of spread, flame length, crown fire potential) and one modeled ecological health measure (fire regime condition class) with wildland urban interface areas and ignition probability.

Water Quality and Supply (November 2009)

  • The intent of the Water Quality and Supply data model is to prioritize watersheds important for supplying sustainable water along with the potential risks to water quality. For the foundation of the model, the technical team identified the following 10 available data layers: public drinking supply, priority watersheds identified by the New Mexico Nonpoint Source Management Program (WQCC 2009), impaired waters (see below for complete description), specific New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) impaired/impacted watersheds, percent irrigated cropland and pasture, NMED water quality risks, aquifer recharge areas, aquifer vulnerability, impervious surface, and erosion risk.

Green Infrastructure (November 2009)

  • Green Infrastructure for the purposes of this model represents an interconnected system of natural areas and other open spaces that are protected and managed for the ecological benefits they provide to people and the environment.The Green Infrastructure data model connected 20 key natural and protected areas using a least cost path analysis. The key areas, or hubs, include the 10 most diverse protected areas as identified through the TNC ecoregional planning efforts and the 10 largest protected areas as identified through the SWReGAP stewardship layer and are assumed to represent the highest quality habitat with an excellent source for ecosystem services such as availability of clean water and a refuge to help maintain healthy wildlife populations. The resulting hub and corridor layer was then prioritized based on ancillary data representing high value conservation areas,

Fragmentation (November 2009)

  • The purpose of the model is to represent the current extent of fragmentation of forests, woodlands and rangelands. The fragmentation model combines patch size and patch continuity with diversity of vegetation types per patch and rarity of vegetation types per patch. A patch was defined as an area of natural vegetation not bisected by roads, utilities, or rails. Patch size and continuity were calculated separately for forests, woodlands, shrublands, grasslands and riparian areas.

Forest Health (November 2009)

  • The intent of the Forest Health data model is to emphasize forest and woodland areas that are susceptible to insect and disease outbreaks. The model is comprised of four available data layers including stand density index (SDI), basal area loss, drought stress, and insect and disease surveys for the model

Economic Potential (November 2009)

  • The economic potential data model highlights areas where forests and rangelands play a major role in local or state economic growth or could in the future. The model also highlights areas that contribute to the development of emerging markets, such as biomass energy. The model is based on four submodels: one highlighting the availability of saw timber, one emphasizing the availability of lower-value material such as firewood or biomass for energy, one valuing the economic importance of natural resources-based recreation, and one mapping expected rangeland productivity.

Development Potential (November 2009)

  • This data model emphasizes areas that are projected to experience increased housing development in the next 30 years. The housing development density data were based on data derived using the Spatially Explicit Regional Growth Model (SERGoM) developed by Dr. Dave Theobald (Colorado State University), and more fully described in the data atlas ( The final data model represents areas expected to experience an increase in housing development with priority given to those development changes considered most critical to the stakeholder group.

Biodiversity (November 2009)

  • The data models identify areas that provide habitat for plants and animals, including, but not limited to, threatened and endangered species. The intent of the models is to assess overall biodiversity and not limit evaluation to habitat for fish and wildlife. The statewide model combines threatened and endangered species potential habitat, sensitive fish species habitat, occurrences of terrestrial species tracked by Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM), occurrences of rare plants on Rare Plant Technical Council list and tracked by NHNM, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) ecoregional conservation areas, and Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS, which is the New Mexico state wildlife action plan) key areas. The forest emphasis model combines 1) potential habitat for 14 key forest and woodland species and 2) a majority richness metric of 62 terrestrial species to the overall statewide model.