Upvalley vacancy, downvalley diversity
Good day and welcome back to The Roundup, now coming out on Tuesdays instead of Fridays. It’s only been a few days since our last email — our final Friday edition was on Sept. 10 — but over the weekend we published one of the first deep-dive looks into what the 2020 census has to say about demographics in the Roaring Fork Valley region. There is plenty to unravel.
Our community is nothing if not unique when looked at as a whole, from the Continental Divide east of Aspen, downvalley to Glenwood Springs and radiating out east and west along the Interstate 70 corridor. Three counties, at least eight towns, watersheds chopped up into different congressional and legislative districts, the cultural and economic diversity between Aspen and Parachute, the public lands, tourism and industry and the history of transmountain diversions delivering natural resources to the more populous Front Range — it adds up to what I believe to be one of the most complex and enigmatic environmental and socioeconomic landscapes you could be lucky enough to encounter.
Reporting on census data is one of the best opportunities to see the big picture issues. Central to Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle’s story, “2020 census data highlights the relationship between resort communities and downvalley locales,” (also published in The Aspen Times, Vail Daily and Glenwood Springs Post Independent) is the analysis showing slow, stagnant or even negative population growth in the ski resort centers of Pitkin and Eagle counties, happening in concert with what might be described as explosive growth in the region’s last remaining bastions of affordability, in the Colorado River Valley between Silt and Battlement Mesa, as well as the lower Eagle River Valley around Gypsum. And in Aspen, real population growth is limited to what can be produced by the affordable housing system. It supports the observation and concern shared by many, that a key driver shaping the community is more luxury, oftentimes vacant homes upvalley requiring increasing services provided by those located downvalley.
Lassalle’s piece also dives into the region’s increasing racial diversity, with notable growth in the Latino population. However, that growth is not evenly distributed. It’s concentrated in western Garfield County, increasing over 50% since 2010 in Rifle and Silt, while shrinking, by 15.5% and 22.3%, respectively, in Basalt and Carbondale. Overall, the census counted 38,314 Latinos in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties, up over 15% from 2010, and now accounting for 28.4% of the three-county population, up from 26.4% a decade ago.
There’s plenty more in the story, which includes numerous interactive data visualizations that will help you make sense of the numbers, or zoom in on your census tract.
Also new in The Roundup this Tuesday, check out our latest data dashboard and what it has to say about tourist occupancy, temperatures, streamflows and more, as well as Tracking the Curve, our local COVID-19 daily tracking project. Sadly, Monday evening’s post included news of a new COVID-19-related death in Pitkin County, as well as increasing case counts over the weekend putting the Pitkin County incidence rate nine times above where it was a year ago.
Thanks for reading and supporting Aspen Journalism.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
2020 census data highlights the relationship between resort communities and downvalley locales
Fewer occupied homes in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Vail, while more affordable towns see booming growth
By Laurine Lassalle | September 11, 2021
The population in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties is expanding and becoming more diverse, with the Latino population growing faster than the white population between 2010 and 2020, according to data published last month by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Data dashboard: Record occupancy for Aspen in August; September poised to set new high mark
Streamflow levels in decline. Air quality remains impacted by out-of-state fires.
By Laurine Lassalle | September 14, 2021
• August sets occupancy record for Aspen at 75.8%.
• Upper Roaring Fork streamflow at 60% of average.
• Sept. 8 max air temp was 14.8°F above normal.
Tracking the Curve
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | September 14, 2021
Garfield County reported 42 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Eagle County added 41 cases and Pitkin County reported 21 cases, as well as one new COVID-19-related fatality, rising the county’s total death count to 5.
GarCo BOCC says ‘blatant gerrymandering’ on display in congressional redistricting
“‘One of the criteria for the redistricting is communities of common interest. How much common interest does, shall we say, Garfield or Rio Blanco or Moffat County have in store with Boulder County?’”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
Roaring Fork Valley, Garfield County together in post-census state House map plan; Senate districts shift in latest plan
“As with the concurrent Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission process, which underwent even more changes Monday in part to try to appease Western Slope concerns, the state legislative plan is a work in progress.”
Source: postindependent.com | Read more
Lead up to Wheeler money question ‘a flawed process’
“Despite Hauenstein and Richards objecting to Mesirow casting a vote during the Aug. 31 meeting because he had not participated in the public hearing, he voted anyway. Mayor Torre didn’t attempt to stop Mesirow from voting or suggest a continuance, which was to Torre’s benefit since Mesirow was on his side to send the question to voters … ..”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
How one El Paso County bike crash is changing access to 14ers in rural Colorado
“The conservationist owner of Trinchera Blanca — billionaire financier Louis Bacon —put up the signs after consulting with his attorneys about the implications of a 2019 federal court decision that upheld a $7.3 million verdict awarded to a Colorado Springs mountain biker who crashed in a sinkhole on a washed out trail at the U.S. Air Force Academy.”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
River towns —Steamboat Springs: Increasing temperatures threaten the Yampa
“According to Michelle Carr, distribution and collections manager for the city (of Steamboat Springs), a 2017 community-wide survey ranked the health of the Yampa above police and sewer services.”
Source: gazette.com | Read more
Depleted by drought, Lakes Powell and Mead were doomed from the beginning
“Climate change is also increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in the Southwest. We’ve seen this quite obviously play out in the 21st century — repeated and prolonged droughts have chipped away at the available water supply while fewer opportunities for recovery have occurred. These trends will continue.”
Source: washingtonpost.com | Read more
Gunnison County presses on with home size reduction
“Mason said he believed that lowering the cap to 5,000 square feet would allow the community to address the ‘core’ issue of houses that are outliers in terms of their large size. ‘For me it is looking at other communities, and we can pick Vail or Aspen if we want to because it’s about 18 miles from Crested Butte. We see massive homes. We see 20,000 square foot homes. I really don’t see that as a good fit in Crested Butte.’”
Source: gunnisontimes.com | Read more
Why have gray wolves failed to gain a foothold in Colorado?
“(Wolves) are trapped in a web of overlapping and intersecting barriers, from the protected territories within Indigenous lands and national parks to the hostile country in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, where most wolf takes are legal and culturally acceptable.”
Source: hch.prg | Read more
Our nonprofit mission is to produce good journalism for people who care about Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley, and the upper Colorado River basin.