Community Ag Alliance: Considering community’s past, present and future
March 1, 2018
Since coming aboard at Historic Routt County, our local nonprofit historic preservation organization, I have sensed that there are many people in our community who are preservationists but they may not yet know it.
Here's a quick test: Do you appreciate the real, authentic "feel" of our towns in Routt County? Do you recycle? Care about economic diversification and resiliency? Do you like old stuff and good stories?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're probably a historic preservationist.
So, what is historic preservation?
At the most basic level, historic preservation is the practice of protecting and maintaining our built environment, particularly historic structures and sites that have social, cultural, political, archaeological or architectural significance.
The National Park Service, which sets the standards for preservation in the U.S., defines historic preservation as a "conversation with our past about our future." I prefer this definition because it helps explain why preservation is important. Rather than saving places only to serve as monuments to our past, historic preservationists are thinking about the future — they are visionaries. The long-range benefits of historic preservation are threefold: environmental, economic and educational.
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Preserving and reusing historic structures is the ultimate recycling project. Preservation maximizes the use of existing materials and reduces waste. Many preservation projects incorporate new technologies to make historic buildings as energy and water efficient as cutting-edge new construction.
By saving the structures that contribute to the feeling and character of a place, historic preservationists seek innovative ways to accommodate growth and change without losing that which makes a place unique. Preservation increases property values and a community's property tax base. Preservation usually costs less than new construction, and in Colorado, there are compelling tax incentives.
Historic sites and structures are a powerful educational tool, particularly because they're such a tangible representation of our past. What can we learn from our history? And what do we want future generations to know about us now?
The board and staff of Historic Routt County are passionate preservationists. We work to preserve and promote the historic character of Routt County communities and rural areas by saving the places that tell the story of our county and its people. We do our part to increase the visibility, recognition and value of Routt County's historic and cultural resources, work with willing property owners to document their historic structures and facilitate the physical preservation of treasured historic buildings.
Examples of our current preservation projects include the Hahns Peak Lookout in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service; Crossan's Market in partnership with Friends of Crossan's and the town of Yampa; and we're working behind the scenes to ensure the Arnold Barn can be enjoyed by future generations.
We couldn't accomplish our work without community support, strong partnerships and our generous funders. If you'd like to learn more about our historic preservation initiatives and future volunteer opportunities, visit historicrouttcounty.org or contact me. I'd very much like to hear from you burgeoning preservationists. Tell me about the places you love in historic Routt County.
Emily Katzman is the executive director of Historic Routt County.Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org