A rare discovery of intact historical archaeological sites in Colorado Springs has offered a glimpse into the life of the man who founded Colorado Springs. It has also highlighted the importance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation program.
FEMA has been working with the State of Colorado and the City of Colorado Springs on a large detention pond project, funded through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The project is designed to protect a residential neighborhood downstream from the Garden of the Gods Park, at risk of future flooding because of the burn scar caused by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire.
Any activity that involves ground disturbance triggers a review for environmental and historic preservation considerations. FEMA’s Environmental and Historical Preservation experts provide specialized guidance to ensure that projects align with environmental planning and preservation requirements.
As part of site monitoring for this project, three domestic refuse middens (trash heaps) belonging to the estate of General William Jackson Palmer were discovered, and FEMA and the Colorado State Historical Preservation Office subsequently found two of those sites eligible for consideration for inclusion on the National Register of Historical Places.
The sites have provided exciting discoveries of artifacts linked to General William Jackson Palmer and his family during the time they built, renovated, and lived in the area known as Glen Eyrie Estate. The artifacts date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s and include shoes and clothing, household items such as dish fragments, bottles and lightbulbs, and food debris such as peach pits and fish bones.
“Finding these artifacts connected with General Palmer is a great example of why environmental and historic site reviews are an important and necessary part of project development,” said FEMA Region VIII Administrator Lee K. dePalo. “Without that review, this valuable piece of history would have been lost.”
It is FEMA's policy to use all practical means and measures to protect, restore, and enhance the quality of the environment, to avoid or minimize adverse impacts to the environment.