Navajo, Zuni tribes to implement restoration plan for Fort Wingate, focusing on forest and fish

Rows of bunkers cover the landscape at Fort Wingate near Gallup, N.M., Aug. 13, 2012. Two Native American tribes, the state of New Mexico and the U.S. Army have finalized a restoration plan for a former military installation near Gallup. (Brian Leddy/Gallup Independent via AP)

Rows of bunkers cover the landscape at Fort Wingate near Gallup, N.M., Aug. 13, 2012. Two Native American tribes, the state of New Mexico and the U.S. Army have finalized a restoration plan for a former military installation near Gallup. (Brian Leddy/Gallup Independent via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two Native American tribes, the state of New Mexico and the U.S. Army have finalized a restoration plan for a former military installation near Gallup.

Explosives and munitions were stored and disposed of at Fort Wingate until it closed in 1993.

The Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo and the New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee reached an agreement with the federal government in March 2022 to settle claims that land, water and cultural resources were negatively impacted by hazardous substances at the site.

The site now is undergoing environmental cleanup before the tract of land can be transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to benefit the two tribes. Both tribes have long-standing historical ties to the lands in and around Fort Wingate, which sits on about 24 square miles. The land is almost entirely surrounded by federally owned or administered lands, including national forest and tribal lands.

More than $1.1 million from the settlement is to be used on restoration projects, according to the plan released earlier this month. Those include restoring parts of the Cibola National Forest and conserving habitat for the Zuni bluehead sucker, a fish species listed as endangered in New Mexico and that is culturally significant to Zuni Pueblo.

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