Press Release

History Colorado responds to disaster plans report

DENVER – A recent Colorado Public Radio interview and CU Denver Today article on the work of Andrew Rumbach, Ph.D., and Douglas Appler, Ph.D., highlighted the concern for planning for natural disasters in the context of historic preservation.

Rumbach and Appler’s research, which was published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, included a nation-wide analysis of hazard mitigation plans and state historic preservation plans. Their conclusion was that there was a weak connection between those plans in the state of Colorado. However, this conclusion did not take into account the changes currently occurring in our Statewide Historic Preservation Plan cycle. These changes were recently made, and will be implemented soon.

A five-year update to the current plan published in 2010, “The Power of Heritage and Place: A 2020 Action Plan to Advance Preservation in Colorado,” highlights a new objective (“Protect Cultural and Historic Resources during disasters”) that specifically addresses these concerns. The update has been recently approved by the National Park Service and is being implemented starting this year.

The new objective has two main directives:

a) Engage in state planning efforts such as the annual State Preparedness Report by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; and

b) Engage in strategic planning for the sustainability of the Colorado Cultural & Historic Resources Task Force

The Colorado Cultural & Historic Resources Task Force—now known as the Cultural Heritage Resource Task Force—is comprised of historic preservationists, archaeologists, architects, historians, and other experts that coordinate and provide assistance to communities with cultural resources that may be or have been threatened by natural disasters.

The action plan complements the “Colorado Climate Action Plan: A Strategy to Address Global Warming” from 2007, which speaks to the dangers of flooding, drought, decreased precipitation, and other natural disasters, all of which could have adverse impacts on historic and cultural resources. The 2014 University of Colorado Boulder’s “Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation” followed and built upon this work, and also addresses the dangers posed by both drought and flooding.

Additionally, there are several agencies and programs within Colorado whose work directly impacts preservation efforts and disaster planning and response. The Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office, formed after the floods of 2013, coordinates disaster recovery oversight and leads the long-term State holistic resiliency plan. The Colorado Resiliency Framework specifically addresses pre-disaster mitigation for the protection and preservation of cultural resources and facilities in Goal 4: Culture.

History Colorado’s State Historical Fund provides emergency grants in response to natural disasters, such as those dispersed in response to the floods of 2013, which helped save vital historical and cultural resources.

The annual Colorado Preserve America Youth Summit is a powerful example of Colorado’s commitment to preservation and preparedness. Each summit’s educational activities feature a strong emphasis on preparation and planning around historic preservation resources in regards to natural disasters. It is one of the few programs in the nation that combines youth outreach with natural disaster preservation preparedness—ensuring that the next generation of Colorado’s preservationists is educated and sensitive to the issue.

The State of Colorado and History Colorado are committed to protecting and preserving our state’s cultural and historic resources. The “2020 Action Plan to Advance Preservation in Colorado” addresses the concerns shared by the State, the U.S. National Park Service, and community stakeholders for natural disasters that may threaten our irreplaceable cultural and historic resources.

The public is invited to learn more about the State of Colorado’s natural disaster planning in relation to preservation. For more information, please contact the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s Preservation Planning Unit at (303) 866-3392.


History Colorado's mission is to inspire generations to find wonder and meaning in our past and to engage in creating a better Colorado. We serve as the state's memory, preserving the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through our museums, educational programs, historic preservation grants, research library, collections, and outreach to Colorado communities. Find History Colorado on all major social media platforms. Visit or call (303) HISTORY for more information.

Jonathan Raab
Preservation Communications Manager | (303) 866-2825