Thank you very much for having me here today to talk to you about what resiliency is, what Colorado is doing around resiliency, and some actions a local community can take.
Resiliency is a word that is used in myriad ways and contexts, and like many other terms (e.g. green or sustainable) can mean different things to different people. To complicate matters, resiliency is often confused with other activities; disaster preparedness, emergency management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation are all distinct from resiliency, though they are all components of activities that contribute to becoming a resilient community. It is therefore important to establish a clear and concise definition of resiliency to have a common understanding.
There are many definitions, but common theme is adaptability to changing climate, social, and economic conditions. Adaptability is a critical part of being a resilient community. Economies can grow or shrink; population growth can fluctuate; changing climate conditions can result in new weather patterns or an increase in the number and intensity of major weather events. By being flexible and adaptable to known and unknown changes, communities can thrive in adverse situations. For example, a community that has a diverse economic base will be more likely to withstand a shock to the local economy compared to a community that has only one or two major industries as economic drivers.
Systems and feedback are also important for resiliency, as economic, social, and environmental systems are all interconnected. As an example, drought can impact agricultural productivity and output, negatively impacting the agricultural economy. At the same time, long term drought conditions can increase the risk of wildfires, threatening the lives and property of those in the wildland-urban interface. These examples of interconnected systems and feedback processes demonstrate how they can threaten community resiliency
Resiliency is often confused with hazard mitigation, and emergency preparedness and management. While there are similarities between these fields, there are significant differences that distinguish resiliency from them. Hazard mitigation uses planning tools and strategies to reduce a community's risk to natural and man-made hazards. Emergency preparedness and management deals with having plans in place for communities to respond when a disaster or emergency happens in order to protect lives and community assets. In contrast, resiliency planning explores and addresses the underlying causes to hazards and vulnerabilities that put acommunity at risk, e.g. aging infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, high long-term unemployment, etc.
Shocks are a form of direct vulnerability, shocks are intense, acute events that can disrupt communities. Shocks can lead to significant damage to buildings and infrastructure, and potentially injuries and deaths.
Stresses are a form of indirect vulnerability, stresses are underlying long-term economic, social, and environmental conditions that can weaken the fabric of a community. Stresses can limit a community’s ability to address and recover from shocks, and potentially even lead to new shocks.
Vulnerability is the interaction between hazards and the built environment, and what turns a natural hazard into a potential disaster. The more a community or business is vulnerable, the higher the likelihood that the impacts strongly and negatively disrupt a community.
Risk is the intersection of vulnerabilities, stresses, shocks, and community/business assets. Vulnerability ≠ risk.
Resiliency matters because it takes a holistic approach towards protecting and improving a community, and leads to better planning and decision-making for meeting long-term community goals and aspirations.
Integreationof activities across sectors is key developing a resilient community. These sectors are interdependent, and many strategies are likely to have a cross-sector impact. For example, housing and infrastructure are closely linked. If housing and land use policies are aligned with infrastructure investments, homes and neighborhoods can be adequately served by infrastructure (e.g. utilities, broadband, transportation, etc.
This integrated planning can also help reduce costs that each sector must bear. Another example is the interdependency between the Community, Watersheds and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, and Housing sectors. The four sectors can work together to locate housing outside of floodplains by aligning land use, floodplain, and housing policies to encourage development outside of floodplains tied to future infrastructure development and housing needs.
Addressing resiliency now will also help communities align with the direction the federal government is moving regarding disaster assistance. Federal policy is shifting towards the need for more state and local pre-disaster action, so by taking action today before a shock event occurs, communities will be better off to receive federal funding and assistance when an event occurs.
Here in Colorado, we care about resiliency because: Climate conditions are changing – we’re seeing that droughts may become more frequent or longer in length, and that average temperatures are increasing Population is growing, and growing fast – the State’s demography office is projecting a 54% increase in population across the state from 2010 to 2040. It’s a lot of growth, potentially further in the wildland-urban interface which if we don’t plan appropriately could put people at risk.
History tells us Colorado is not immune to disasters; they will happen again.
This isn’t all-encompassing of disasters we have faced in the state, but gives you a sense of some of the major disasters we’ve had in the last 50 years or so – most recently with the 2012-2013 wildfires and the 2013 floods. On a yearly basis Colorado sees wildfires, floods, mudslides, drought, avalanches, and other hazardous events.
So what is Colorado doing about it? As was depicted on the previous slide, we had record floods in September 2013 here in CO, and shortly after the floods, Gov. Hickenlooper wanted a dedicated recovery office to work closely with our state partners at various departments and our federal partners to support our local communities, and to think about as we move forward, how do we build with resilience in mind to avoid the same level of losses the next time we have disasters like rains or wildfires.
In May 2015, Gov. Hickenlooper adopted the Colorado Resiliency Framework, which was developed by our office in partnership with 27 State and federal agencies. It establishes the State’s commitment to resiliency, and formalized what we call the Colorado Resiliency Working Group (or CRWG), to act as the steering committee and coordinating body on resiliency, and outlines specific strategies for the CRWG to undertake. It’s available to read or download at www.coloradounited.com
As I mentioned we had a lot of support across State and Federal partners as you can see here. And we developed the framework in an integrated and interdisciplinary way, with the Framework and CRWG organized around six core, resiliency sectors: community; economic; health and social; housing; infrastructure; and watersheds/natural resources. Each sector is a fundamental building block that supports the State’s resiliency activities. The Framework analyses existing conditions in these 6 different sectors and develops cross-sector strategies to address their vulnerabilities to shocks and stresses in order to create a holistic approach to resiliency.
Build a culture of resiliency at local, state, and federal level.
Use best available data to make informed decisions about reconstruction and future development.
Also integrate resilience into capital investments.
So what can communities do to begin addressing their resiliency?
One of the biggest hurdles is simply understanding what resiliency is.
New online resource center launched in November 2016, visit at www.coresiliency.com The COResiliency Resource Center is the online, interactive hub for resiliency knowledge and resources in Colorado. Through a variety of training modules and webinars, case studies, templates and model plans, grant information, etc., the Resource Center provides critical tools for communities and their stakeholders to integrate resiliency into every-day activities. The Resource Center is aimed at a variety of audiences, including local government agencies, elected officials, community organizations, the private sector and individual resiliency champions.
A resiliency framework provides a community or a region with a path to address the shocks and stresses they face, empowering action to reduce vulnerability, improve adaptability, and build social capital in the face of hazards and changing conditions. The framework is not a standalone plan like a hazard mitigation plan or a comprehensive plan. Rather, a resiliency framework provides a collaborative forum to assess current risks, plans and practices, and to build resiliency into policies, actions and investments across multiple sectors.
Developing a local resiliency framework involves bringing together a number of community stakeholders including representatives from local government, community organizations, and local businesses to create a vision of what a resilient community looks like. The framework can help communities: explore their existing conditions; understand what shocks and stresses they are particularly vulnerable to; define a vision and goals for the community; define strategies and identify priority projects; and establish an implementation roadmap.
We have piloted the development of Local Resiliency Frameworks – modeled after the State Framework – that consider existing conditions, vulnerability from shocks and stresses, and that chart a concrete roadmap to implement resilient solutions. The pilot process included communities in Larimer, Boulder, and El Paso counties.
Larimer County has been subject to severe flood and fire events in recent years, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, The 2013 floods alone damaged 338 homes and 25 businesses, and destroyed 47 homes and 7 commercial buildings in in the county. They developed their Framework with the State’s help to provide a dedicated process for resiliency, develop a shared resiliency vision and goals, and define and catalyze resiliency priority projects. A collaborative group of governmental, non-governmental, volunteer, and private sector partners worked together for over six months through charrettes and stakeholder meetings to develop resiliency strategies for the county and its communities. The vision of their Framework is to create a connected, collaborative, and cooperative region that proactively works together to strengthen systems and resolve complex issues.
Go to the resource center for more information on local frameworks and guidance/tools for the process.
Hazard mitigation plans can play an important role in helping communities to proactively reduce risk and adapt to changing conditions. There are a number of opportunities to integrate resilience concepts into hazard mitigation plans, or to integrate hazard mitigation plans into other community efforts in order to enhance resilience: Integration of hazard identification and risk assessments into land use planning and practices. Integration of climate change data and growth trends into traditional hazard identification and risk assessments in order to anticipate future risk.
The Colorado Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan was a collaborative effort that identifies risks and vulnerabilities throughout the state and puts forth mitigation strategies. It is a useful tool for informing local resiliency and other plans.
Land Use Codes Communities have a number of opportunities to integrate resiliency into their comprehensive plans. Linking land use codes with hazards identified in a hazard mitigation plan can help a community avoid future development in areas that are identified as being at high-risk. Long-term economic resiliency can be integrated into comprehensive plans. For example, identifying areas in a community that are suitable for commercial or industrial growth but that are less vulnerable to damage from natural hazards. Affordable housing needs can be addressed as an element in a master plan. Linking these needs with potential hazards can help to reduce risk to existing affordable housing, and to avoid building new affordable housing in high-risk areas. A number of land use tools are at a local government’s disposal, including floodplain development regulations, transfer of development rights, conservation easements, overlay zoning, site design standards, and stream buffers and setbacks. The Planning for Hazards Guide’s Planning Tools and Strategies provides information on these tools and others, as well as model code language for integrating hazards into land use strategies.
Capital Improvement Plans There are a number of approaches for incorporating resiliency into CIPs, including: Incorporating green infrastructure into capital projects, which can help communities manage flooding, adapt to drought conditions, lower energy needs, and conserve water. Building resiliency measures into infrastructure projects: As communities identify and prioritize infrastructure projects, they have the opportunity to incorporate resiliency measures and performance standards to make infrastructure and facilities better prepared to withstand or be more easily restored after future disaster events. For example, Boulder County developed in 2016 the Boulder County Resilient Design Performance Standard which outlines time-to-recovery performance goals for infrastructure and dependent facilities, and provides a design standard that lays out resilience criteria and associated indicators.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board leads State efforts to map floodplain and erosion areas. In addition, the Colorado Geological Survey leads efforts to identify geologic and debris flow hazard zones in Colorado. These ongoing hazard and risk mapping efforts are cataloged in the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program site. Updating information about these hazards will enable areas throughout Colorado likely to be affected by flooding, erosion, and debris flow to incorporate these risks into mitigation efforts and land use decisions that will protect future development, property, and lives, and enhance water quality and river function.
Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (CO-WRAP) is a valuable tool for the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to provide the public and government agencies with critical information to support wildfire mitigation efforts and better understand the risks they face from wildfire-related hazards.
The Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado guide enables municipalities and counties to address hazards through the integration of resilience and hazard mitigation principles into land use-related plans and codes.
Planning for Regional Resilience in Colorado
Planning for Regional Resilience
Rob Pressly, Resiliency Program Coordinator
Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office
June 28, 2017
The ability of communities to rebound, positively adapt to,
or thrive amidst changing conditions or challenges –
including disasters and changes in climate – and maintain
quality of life, healthy growth, durable systems and
conservation of resources for present and future
–Colorado Resiliency Working Group
What is Resiliency?
How is Resiliency Different?
• Resiliency takes a holistic
approach towards protecting and
improving a community
• Integrated approach leads to
better planning and decision-
Population Current and Projected – Statewide and Select Counties
Jurisdiction 2010 Census Estimated
State of Colorado 5,029,196 5,264,890 5,924,692 7,752,887
City and County of
604,879 648,978 734,079 867,545
Boulder County 294,567 309,874 335,076 396,163
Larimer County 299,630 315,728 356,900 471,612
El Paso County 622,263 655,812 728,610 955,871
Eagle County 52,057 52,360 57,226 94,085
San Miguel County 7,356 8,063 9,408 15,523
*Source: Colorado Department of Local Affairs Demography Office
Disaster Communities Impacted Disaster Impacts
Colorado Front Range (South Platte
and Arkansas basins)
21 lives lost; $540M damages (1965
dollars); resulted in construction of
Chatfield and Bear Creek reservoirs
Big Thompson Flood (1976)
Primarily Larimer County between
Estes Park and Loveland
8 inches of rain in a one hour
period;145 lives lost; 418 houses
2002 Drought and Wildfires
Statewide. Major fires included
Hayman, Coal Seam, Missionary Ridge
Hayman fire burned 137k acres;
Missionary Ridge 70k acres
Statewide; large fires in Larimer, El
Paso, Fremont counties and the San
More than 1100 homes destroyed,
$1.2B in insurance claims
2013 Floods 24 counties impacted
10 lives lost; 1800 homes destroyed,
$3.9B in damages
The ability of communities to
rebound, positively adapt to, or
thrive amidst changing conditions or
challenges – including disasters and
changes in climate – and maintain
quality of life, healthy growth,
durable systems and conservation of
resources for present and future
–Colorado Resiliency Working Group
The Colorado Resiliency Framework
Priorities for Community Action
• Build capacity and empower a
culture of resilience
• Leverage data to manage risk
• Integrate resilience into
Community Action: Building Capacity
Colorado Resiliency Resource Center available at www.coresiliency.com
Community Actions: Resiliency Frameworks
By planning for resiliency now, communities throughout
Colorado will experience less damage and fewer losses
from shocks and stresses such as a devastating flood,
deep economic recession, or terrorism attack; they will
be prepared to bounce back, and build back strong.
Community Actions: Plan Integration
• Hazard Mitigation Plans
• Comprehensive Plans
• Capital Improvement Plans
Tools for Community Actions
Resiliency Program Coordinator
Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office