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Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project

An Interagency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Initiative

Planning for a rapidly growing region like central New Mexico in an arid climate means addressing challenges of congestion, sprawl, energy use, vehicle emissions, and water scarcity, all exacerbated by climate change. With funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Park Service (NPS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a group of federal agencies and the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), located in Albuquerque, NM, embarked on a project to help the region address these intertwined challenges using scenario planning. This project built off of and complements an earlier scenario planning and climate change pilot in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The one-pager below summarizes the project.


The project launched in July 2013 after the selection of the Albuquerque region from a pool of several applicants. The project was completed in the spring of 2015.

Project Documents

Volpe worked with FWS to create case studies documenting their collaboration with regional partners and how their work at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge will help the region prepare for the impacts of climate change. 

Volpe also worked with BLM to develop a technical report on climate change to support its ongoing travel and transportation management planning process for the Rio Puerco Field Office in central New Mexico. This report analyzes downscaled climate change projections for central New Mexico and provides a framework for incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation into BLM’s transportation planning process.

Last, Volpe worked with FHWA to create a final report that describes the methodology, analysis, and work completed as part of the project as well as challenges encountered and lessons learned throughout the course of the project. The purpose of the report not only documents the project but also describes the process that another region of the country can follow if they choose to initiate a similar climate change scenario planning process. Volpe also developed an integration plan that outlines several next steps that the region could take to further implement the work of the final report. The final report and implementation plan were completed in April 2015.

The project’s consultant team, Ecosystem Management Inc. and the University of New Mexico, developed six context-setting and interim reports and one final report that describe and present the technical modeling, mapping, and analytical details and results of each stage and, ultimately, the end of the project. Two of the context-setting reports and the final technical report are posted below; the interim reports (i.e., reports on earlier iterations of the scenarios) are available from the project manager upon request.

Over the course of the project, MRCOG integrated the work of the project team into its long range transportation planning process. The final plan was approved in April 2015. Links to this plan, and its scenario planning and climate change components, are below:

  • Long Range Metropolitan Transportation Plan
  • Considering Potential Growth through Scenario Planning
  • Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project

If you are interested in pursuing a process similar to that which this project and the Cape Cod Pilot Project employed, please contact the project manager (see right column).

A group of people meeting in a large conference room.
Regional Themes Identification Exercise at FHWA Scenario Planning Workshop in June 2013. (Volpe photo)