Pagosa Springs designated a Preserve America Community, Four Corners Business Journal, Sept. 11-17

Pagosa Springs is getting a new road sign. The sign will recognize Pagosa as a Preserve America Community.

The Preserve America Community program is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts “to preserve and enjoy our priceless cultural and natural heritage, use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs.”

Benefits of designation include White House recognition; eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants; a certificate of recognition; a Preserve America Community road sign; authorization to use the Preserve America logo on signs, flags, banners and promotional materials; listing in a Web-based Preserve America Community directory; inclusion in national and regional press releases; official notification of designation to State tourism offices and visitor bureaus; and enhanced community visibility and pride.

Mayor Ross Aragon and Shari Pierce, chairperson of the Pagosa Springs historic preservation board received the award at a ceremony in Durango, another Preserve America Community. Other Colorado towns designated as Preserve America Communities include: Breckenridge, Cripple Creek, Fort Collins, Frisco, Georgetown, Glenwood Springs, Greeley, Lake City, Leadville, Montezuma County, Park County, Pueblo, Silverton and Steamboat Springs.

According to the Pagosa Springs SUN, town planners Tamra Allen and Joe Nigg submitted the application for the designation in July, in hopes that the town would receive national recognition for its efforts to preserve the downtown historic district and its local historic resources.

The most important benefit of the designation is not the highway sign, but the eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants, which can range from $20,000 to $150,000. The initiative offers Preserve America communities access to technical, financial and economic development assistance as well as other economic incentives.

These funds might be used to help fund the San Juan Historical Society Museum or to develop an historic walking tour of Pagosa Springs. Grant funding might also fund research and historic documentation, historic landmark or building identification signage and education and marketing efforts.

In 2006, Preserve America grants were awarded to three Colorado projects.

The Southeast Colorado Heritage Tourism program received $130,000, awarded to the Colorado Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation office to create a regional marketing program for heritage tourism in six-county rural region of Southeast Colorado. The grant will fund a public-private partnership with the goal of increasing visitation and revenue to historic sites and local tourism supported businesses.

The Soapstone Prairie Natural Area received $147,563 awarded to the Fort Collins Museum and the City of Fort Collins to collect oral histories from various sources surrounding the Fort Collins and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area community. The goal is an eventual exhibit that will educate and inform the public on the history of the area.

The Steamboat Springs Cultural Heritage Interpretive and Education program received $35,000, awarded to the City of Steamboat Springs to support the development of a Cultural Heritage Tourism program in Steamboat Springs by developing an interpretive plan, infrastructure, programs and materials. The goal for this project is to develop a multi-media museum exhibit focused on the history and cultural development of the city and the create 12 interpretive signs, develop two walking brochures and an educational program including living history days, guided walking tours and lectures.

According to their website, Preserve America advocates grassroots effort, local collaboration and the appropriate balancing of conflicting interests, strongly encouraging Public-private partnerships. “Preserve America is intended to help educate citizens about the benefits of heritage preservation and encourage creative partnerships that successfully overcome obstacles or conflicts about competing public interests.”

Preserve America brings together the White House and Executive Office of the President, including the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget with participating Federal partners: The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the Department of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation; the National Endowment for the Humanities and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

In addition, The History Channel is working with Preserve America and the White House on a complementary promotional and educational effort called “Save our History.” Preserve America is also working with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and awards an annual History Teacher of the Year award.

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