Building Resilience to Natural Disasters

Colorado Resiliency Framework

Following a devastating flood in September 2013 that impacted 24 counties and record wildfires in 2010, 2012, and 2013 that destroyed nearly 1,250 homes, the State of Colorado recognized the need for a comprehensive resilience plan and strategy to address natural and man-made hazards. E & E worked collaboratively with the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office (CRRO) to create the Colorado Resiliency Framework, which now guides State actions and acts as a model to advance resilience planning in communities across the state.



Be Inclusive

From agriculturally-based economies on the eastern plains and tourism-based economies in the mountains, to sprawling urban populations in Denver and small riverine communities like Lyons, Colorado is a diverse state. In the past decade, underlying stresses have magnified the impact of disasters and impeded recovery. Stresses include a lack of economic diversification, lack of social cohesion, and a shortage of available affordable housing for a low-to-moderate income workforce. E & E’s challenge was to holistically address the needs of each community.


Robust Engagement

E & E and CRRO called for an open public process to set up a framework to guide local planning efforts across the state. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to planning that took advantage of our experts in project management, climate change, planning, ecological systems, civil engineering, and community involvement—plus a coalition of 27 federal, state, local, and NGO agencies—we identified and filled data gaps to create a working draft within three months. Our robust public engagement process—involving consultation with 59 groups and thousands of residents across a variety of platforms—allowed us to share the draft content with the public and solicit feedback to accurately identify and respond to risks and vulnerabilities.


A National Model

Framework planning focused on harnessing communities’ abilities to develop adaptive capacity (i.e., their ability to absorb and move forward from disaster events). Based on the risk and vulnerability assessment, we identified shocks and stresses and developed specific strategies to address five overarching resilience goals: reduced risk, enhanced planning, better policy, more responsible culture, and incorporation of resilience into investments.


Governor Hickenlooper adopted the Colorado Resiliency Framework in May 2015, a first-of-its-kind statewide framework for resilience. Since adoption, E & E has worked closely with local jurisdictions to develop tailored community-level plans based on the framework and identify over 100 cost-effective projects that make local communities more resilient.

Colorado’s Resiliency Framework plan has been held up as a model by The Rockefeller Foundation and HUD as an example of how states are leading the way in resilience planning. In recognition of this pioneering work, the project earned a 2016 American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Gold Award and a 2017 American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning Gold Award.

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