Protecting Historic Resources From Environmental Hazards

1976 Big Thompson Flood. Image: The Denver Post

1976 Big Thompson Flood. Image: The Denver Post

Protecting historic resources…

Landslide damage to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad, a World Heritage Site. Image: Indian Express

Landslide damage to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad, a World Heritage Site. Image: Indian Express

…from natural hazards is an important part of building resilient communities. Historic resources, tangible assets that are inherited from past generations and bestowed to future ones, shape our sense of place and preserve a community’s shared identity during times of crisis or change. They are also important contributors to local economic activity, especially in small towns and rural communities whose economies increasingly rely on tourism and visitor experiences. Most historic resources were built prior to development regulations and are disproportionately exposed to natural hazards. Despite this, there is relatively little research on the protection of historic resources from disasters. Our past research found that state-level hazard mitigation plans and policies largely neglect historic resources (Appler & Rumbach 2016). At the local level, however, we have limited understanding of how communities are protecting their historic resources, the barriers they encounter, or the tools and resources that would enable more effective mitigation strategies.

This project looks at the risks posed to historic resources in Colorado by future flood events. Over the next year, our research will inventory historic resources in the state, describe the resources that will potentially be exposed to future flood hazards, and develop case studies of communities and their mitigation efforts. This research is being supported by a seed grant from the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver.