County adopts new Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan

Prioritizes natural hazard risks as chosen by jurisdictions, fire districts

November 13, 2017

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has adopted a new Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan that prioritizes natural disaster risks and focuses on ways to prevent loss of life and destruction of private property. The plan was compiled by Garfield County Community Development and Emergency Management departments, both of which worked closely with local jurisdictions.

The new plan utilizes a list of hazard priorities from local jurisdictions and fire districts. The goal of the hazard mitigation plan is to reduce risks that may lead to natural disasters, such as wildfires and floods. It replaces the 2012 version, and all hazard mitigation plans expire after five years.

Wildfire; flooding; hazardous materials; landslides, debris, and rock fall; hazardous soils; and winter storms are among the top jurisdictional concerns.

The Board of County Commissioners directed staff to include language in the plan that places an emphasis on coordinating with federal agencies during disasters.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky noted that federal mitigation plans on public lands must be consistent with local plans to ensure the most effective way of working together.

‘Wildfire, rock fall, flooding, so much of that happens on public lands,’ he said.

The mitigation plan looks at best practices to minimize potential losses from natural hazards in Garfield County. The plan identified a series of actions to reduce risks from natural hazards; including public outreach and education; development of stakeholder partnerships; and implementation of preventative activities through land-use and watershed programs.

The plan also noted the need to identify and prioritize mitigation projects, and ensure that it meets qualifications for federal assistance.

Patricia Gavelda, Colorado’s State and Local Mitigation Planning Program manager, said planned mitigation actions may be submitted to the state at any time, helping to make them shovel-ready when federal or state funding is available.

“We’re very proud of Garfield County for all that you’ve done,” she said.

The resolution has already been approved by both the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To qualify for pre- and post-disaster mitigation funds, a county’s hazard mitigation plan must be approved by FEMA.

The multi-jurisdictional plan was coordinated with input from Parachute, Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, the Grand Valley Fire Protection District, the Colorado River Fire and Rescue District, Glenwood Springs Fire Protection District, and the Carbondale Fire Protection District. Each jurisdiction will need to adopt their own version of the plan.

The resolution approving the plan passed unanimously.