Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Since 1998, the people of Santa Clara Pueblo (SCP) have seen 80% of their forested lands burned by wildfires. Wildfire is a natural part of the disturbance regime regulating Southwestern ecosystems, and yet these fires, the Las Conchas wildfire in 2011 in particular, have proven to be a major disaster for SCP. Las Conchas drastically altered the hydrology of the Santa Clara Creek watershed, causing severe flooding that has damaged cultural sites, infrastructure, threatened lives and property, and has rendered much of the watershed inaccessible to tribal members. This project uses resilience thinking to explain why the character of wildfire has changed in the west and as a guiding principle for watershed restoration. The projects primary objective was to determine what issues have reduced SCP's ability to effectively deal with the Las Conchas wildfire — their resilience — and what can be done about it. Several barriers to effective watershed restoration were identified in interviews with tribal officials and community members. These barriers include the discrepancy between the promises of the Tribal Self-Governance Act and the federal government's interpretation of the trust responsibility, and a lack of formal collaboration between SCP and adjacent land management agencies. This project identified recommendations and opportunities to overcome these barriers, including collaborative agreements between SCP and adjacent land management agencies, and SCP representation on the Valles Caldera National Preserve board of trustees.

Language (ISO)



Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico--Environmental conditions., Watershed restoration--Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico., Watershed restoration--Political aspects--New Mexico


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Dual Degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, and Master of Community & Regional Planning, University of New Mexico.