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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The damage done to one Native American community's ancestral lands by the largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history is being assessed as part of a new agreement reached between tribal leaders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
An agency contractor this week started collecting aerial photographs of the burned area along Santa Clara Pueblo's charred canyon as the first step in the watershed assessment.
Officials said the $1.8 million study is expected to take three years to complete. The findings will provide the basis for a long-term plan aimed at restoration and flood prevention.
The two partners were midway through a similar study when the Las Conchas blaze raced across more than 244 square miles of the Jemez Mountains this summer. The fire destroyed several dozen homes, threatened Los Alamos National Laboratory, burned through cultural sites and threatened an important water source for the pueblo.
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