Part of the cover image for the State Preservation Plan showing a collage of images including Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde and a group of people working on a wooden roof rehabilitation.


State Preservation Plan

The Power of Heritage and Place: A 2020 Action Plan to Advance Preservation in Colorado is a statewide action plan that acts as a guide for the network of historic preservationists in Colorado for shared goals and strategies concerning preservation’s relevance to citizens, partners, and local municipalities.

In 2016, History Colorado completed a five-year update to the 2020 state plan, which features several key goals, including increasing the public’s understanding of the many cultural and economic benefits of historic preservation, communicating the preservation message to more Coloradans, celebrating the wide variety of cultural resources in their many forms, continuing survey efforts to better understand the cultural landscape of Colorado, inspiring local collaboration between networks of new and established preservationists, coordinating emergency management responses, and more.

The Power of Heritage and Place:
The Statewide Plan for Historic Preservation in Colorado

Action Agenda

This plan seeks to motivate and empower people to value heritage and historic places by enhancing opportunities to demonstrate the myriad benefits of sharing and preserving the stories therein embodied. The Action Agenda is organized around six goals devised to guide statewide, regional, and local preservation efforts over the next five years. They are ordered to reflect a logical progression in advancing the practice of preservation in Colorado.

Goal A: Preserving the Places that Matter

Preserving places that matter comprises the foundation for all historic preservation efforts statewide as well as the fundamental basis for the ideas outlined in this plan. We must survey, document, identify, and evaluate historic and cultural resources in order to be able to protect and interpret them. This effort should be ongoing, collaborative, and dynamic, engaging all generations and educating them throughout the process.

  1. Evaluate fundamentals of survey process
  2. Prepare additional historic contexts
  3. Conduct survey, inventory, and designation proactively
  4. Disseminate historic and cultural resource information broadly
  5. Increase historic and cultural resource preservation

Goal B: Strengthening and Connecting the Colorado Preservation Network

There are numerous layers of partners engaged in historic preservation across the state, including federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, local advocacy groups and historical societies, tribes, Certified Local Governments and other communities with preservation programs, and conservation organizations. All of these partners act independently as well as in collaboration locally, regionally, and statewide on individual projects and initiatives as well as on larger policy issues. In order to make these connections and collaborations as strong as possible, it is important to foster and connect them actively through communication and coordination. At present, while many are involved in preservation, there may not be an awareness of individuals or organizations even in adjacent counties who can assist or provide advice. The goal of Strengthening and Connecting the Colorado Preservation Network addresses strengthening and creating service providers and advocates, building capacity, and offering a more robust network engaged in preservation activities and joined through partnerships.

  1. Nurture preservation leaders
  2. Establish a preservation advocacy network
  3. Maximize partnership network connections to achieve critical capacity
  4. Increase interagency coordination and dialogue with public
  5. Form new partnerships

Goal C: Shaping the Preservation Message

As evidenced through public listening sessions and questionnaires, consideration of historic preservation, pre-history, and history represent a broad variety of actions and ideas to different people, both with positive and negative connotations.  Preservation is ultimately related to personal perspective, previous experience with the movement, or emotional connections to heritage and place.  The Shaping the Preservation Message strategy focuses on the proactive, as opposed to reactive, promotion and messaging of the mission and vision of preservation into a single powerful, unified message.  This message targets individual citizens and local communities broadly.

  • Expand positive perceptions of preservation
  • Develop promotional plan and communication strategy
  • Demonstrate relevance of preservation to the individual citizen
  • Implement strategic marketing initiative
  • Establish historic preservation focus at the History Colorado Center
  • Broadcast preservation's positive local impact

Goal D: Publicizing the Benefits of Preservation

Historic preservation effectively constitutes sustainable development in addition to possessing significant cultural, social, scientific, and especially economic benefits.  It is imperative to promote the inherent and demonstrable benefits of historic preservation to bolster the continued health of existing funding sources in fluctuating economic climates and among competition with other programs.  However, the immediate challenge is that not enough facts have been established that quantify these benefits.  Data and statistics must be developed to provide local preservation partners the ammunition to educate their fellow citizens.

  • Demonstrate collective social, educational, economic, and cultural benefits of historic preservation
  • Publicize economic benefits, incentives, and funding mechanisms
  • Advance heritage tourism efforts
  • Articulate the benefits of comprehensive management of public lands
  • Articulate the benefits of protection of private lands
  • Demonstrate the intrinsic connection between environmental sustainability and historic preservation

Goal E: Weaving Preservation Throughout Education

As expressed repeatedly in public listening sessions, general and institutional apathy regarding historic and cultural resources is a systemic concern. Many Americans do not strongly self-identify with their heritage, whereas this plan seeks to renew individual ties with the cultural perspectives expressed through historic resource preservation and interpretation. Many expressed that limited history education in the general Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), a standards-based statewide curriculum, is a potential source for the public’s lesser appreciation of its historic and cultural resources. At present, local history will be taught in 3rd grade and Colorado history in the 4th grade. Education of the school-age child is recognized as a fundamental building block of this broad initiative, specifically through consideration of Colorado Standards, extracurricular educational opportunities, and youth-focused preservation programs. Heritage--in its wealth of diverse expressions through pre-history and history--ultimately transcends all primary school subjects. For children of all ages, lessons should emphasize persistence, connection, self-valuation, and roots through the personalization of history.

  • Share the stories of designated properties
  • Create programs to engage youth in understanding and appreciating cultural and historic resources
  • Develop integrated curricula related to historic preservation
  • Involve all types of educators in historic preservation education
  • Support preservation higher education programs
  • Create lifelong learning opportunities
  • Create better understanding of local communities' role in preservation decision-making
  • Develop workshops for property owners and local preservationists

Goal F: Advancing Preservation Practices

Due to the physical size of the state and at times challenging climate and topography, natural opportunities for communities to learn from one another’s historic preservation experiences don’t always exist without the effort and expense of considerable travel.  Furthermore, due to the population concentration in the Denver metro area, there is a perception among rural communities that more attention, resources, and personnel are allocated to the state’s capitol region than its more rural counterparts.  While this may prove true on many levels, the State Historical Fund, for instance, has funded projects in all sixty-four counties.  Meanwhile, communities consistently expressed in the development of this plan their desire to establish working connections among themselves so that they might learn from others’ technical knowledge, similar experiences, challenges, and successes.  The technology of the internet, social media, and blogs can forward the dissemination and sharing of this information.  The Ski Town Forum, held annually in conjunction with Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Saving Places conference and moderated by History Colorado, presents one model for this type of intra-community collaboration or regional affinity group.  At this forum, commissioners and staff from Breckenridge, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, and Aspen share advice with colleagues on shared preservation issues such as development pressures.

  • Improve regional and community-based technical assistance
  • Identify and increase traditional building trade and training opportunities
  • Increase professional training opportunities throughout state
  • Expand pool of preservation professionals
  • Train individuals how to "green" historic buildings
  • Enhance curatorial and collection capabilities and facilities