The threat to an endangered animal is well-known, and thanks to the Colorado Preservation Inc., people may become accustomed to hearing about endangered places too.
Last Friday, the CPI released their sixth annual “Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List 2003.” The list reveals this year’s top five places in Colorado that are in danger of becoming extinct; including places like The City Ditch located in Douglas, Arapahoe and Denver counties and the Hutchinson Homestead and Ranch located in Chaffee County.
These places are in danger due to conditions like development, neglect, vandalism, natural weathering, changing economies, and this year in particular, due to drought, according to a news release.
The idea for creating the Most Endangered Places List came about in 1997. It was modeled after the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which also creates lists of places that are threatened and at risk, said Patricia Holcomb, technical adviser for the CPI.
Other states have also followed in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s work, and a few states, like Indiana and New York, are particularly well known for their efforts in saving places of historical significance.
The idea of the Endangered Places List is to make people more aware of sites in Colorado that contribute something to their community, either due to historical background or for other reasons, according to the news release.
Nancy Solomon, Media Contact for CPI, said that it’s not at all uncommon for communities to want to save places that bring tourists to their area.
“There’s a lot of money in historic restoration in terms of tourism,” Solomon said. Tourism is a form of revenue for many small communities in Colorado.
Endangered places are nominated for the list by members of Colorado communities. The places are then reviewed by experts who make an assessment of the place and what it contributes to the community. The experts also closely evaluate what historical significance the place has for the state of Colorado, the community or the United States.
“I think it’s a good idea to be able to identify these places that are exceptional for one reason or another, and have a combination of unique plant and animal species that are worth preserving,” said Doug Ernest, reference librarian at CSU’s Morgan Library.
Most of the time, these places tend to be at least 50 years old, but it depends on the site. The list of nominees includes places that were nominated in the past, but were not placed on a previous list.
Typically, the CPI lists between five and ten places that are proclaimed the Most Endangered Places in Colorado.
Once places have made the list, the focus is shifted and experts evaluate what must be done to save or conserve that location. Many times, this process involves cost evaluations of rebuilding parts of weathered buildings and bridges, and sometimes it means finding help locally.
The CPI helps by writing to the area’s local legislators to let them know about the place’s list status two months prior to release of the list, so the CPI can get feedback from legislators about the situation.
Many times, legislators weren’t even aware of the problem or simply didn’t realize the people in Colorado were so concerned about that place, Holcomb said.
Legislators are usually eager to become involved and help out however they can, Holcomb said.
“I think the idea (of the list) is a good idea, but it’s a major amount of work. There are a lot of unanswered questions. Who maintains it in the future? I think that’s a really big thing, if we’re spending millions refurbishing (buildings),” said Julie Koerner, a graduate student in business administration.
There are a few trends as of this past year in endangered places found in Colorado. Solomon said there were very few nominees from northeastern Colorado, but that does vary greatly from year to year in all parts of the state.
As for trends in what makes a place endangered, Holcomb said this year in particular drought has had a greater effect on some of the places chosen, such as on cattle ranches and the city ditch in Denver, Colo. She added that many things contribute to making a place endangered.