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A Chinook helicopter carrying the head of FEMA landed on the north end of Garden of the Gods Park Monday.

FEMA Administrator Peter T. Gaynor met Mayor Suthers and Public Works Director Travis Easton at the Garden of the Gods detention facility to tour mitigation work in the area. The detention pond and additional mitigation work along Camp Creek are designed to protect Garden of the Gods Park, Rock Ledge Ranch, and downstream neighborhoods from flooding after the Waldo Canyon Fire.  

Now that the detention pond is complete, it is expected that approximately 110 properties along the 31st Street corridor can be removed from the FEMA regulatory floodplain. Owners of properties removed from the FEMA floodplain will have an option to carry flood insurance at a reduced rate, but will no longer be required by the federal government to carry flood insurance.

“With the increasing threat for wildfire and flash flooding, it’s important to mitigate against potential future damage. It’s far better to invest in preventative measures now, than bear the increased cost of recovery after a disaster. This flood mitigation project serves to protect Garden of the Gods Park, Rock Ledge Ranch, and downstream communities, It will also take one hundred properties out of the FEMA floodplain which no longer requires them to carry flood insurance.” – Mayor John Suthers

A FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant paid for the majority of the cost of constructing the detention facility project.

The Waldo Canyon Fire

In June 2012, drought and extreme weather fueled the Waldo Canyon Fire, which burned nearly 18,000 acres and destroyed 347 homes on the westside of Colorado Springs.

The fire also created an increased risk for flash flooding along Camp Creek and North and South Douglas creek watersheds. City officials worked to identify and obtain funding for flood mitigation efforts .  In 2013, the City of Colorado Springs launched the Camp Creek Drainage Improvement Project that involved significant neighborhood participation to plan how to protect the Camp Creek corridor from flooding and erosion to improve public safety. 

Unexpected Discovery

A once-in-a-lifetime discovery halted construction before it could begin.  Crews called in Anna Cordova, Lead Archeologist for the City of Colorado Springs,  to examine the site of the detention pond, whereshe found artifacts dating back to the days of General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Her team unearthed tens of thousands of artifacts connected to General Palmer and his residence at Glen Eyrie Castle, which give insight into personal details and his everyday life.

Many of the artifacts are included in an exhibit at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum titled "Evidence: Finding the Facts about General William Jackson Palmer."

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