Jessica Yamashita reads to her daughters, from left, Madelyn, 6, Julia, 8, and Lillian, 4, on Wednesday at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Jessica Yamashita moved to Steamboat from California in May with her husband Brent. The city’s population grew from 9,815 in 2000 to 12,088 in 2010, according to figures released Wednesday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Jessica Yamashita reads to her daughters, from left, Madelyn, 6, Julia, 8, and Lillian, 4, on Wednesday at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Jessica Yamashita moved to Steamboat from California in May with her husband Brent. The city’s population grew from 9,815 in 2000 to 12,088 in 2010, according to figures released Wednesday.

Routt County population grows 19 percent in past decade; rate slightly outpaces state


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View additional 2010 census data through the State Demography Office at

— Routt County’s population growth from 2000 to 2010 slightly outpaced statewide growth rates and was focused in Steamboat Springs, moderate in Hayden and minor in Oak Creek.

In a tumultuous decade that saw a boom and bust real estate cycle and ended amid a crippling nationwide recession, Routt County’s population ultimately grew, from 19,690 in 2000 to 23,509 in 2010. That’s a 19 percent increase of 3,819 people, according to 2010 census data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau through Colorado’s State Demography Office.

Colorado’s population grew from about 4.3 million in 2000 to just more than 5 million in 2010, an increase of nearly 17 percent.

Steamboat Springs grew at a faster pace than both the state and the county overall.

The city saw by far the greatest growth in the county, by raw numbers and by percent. Steamboat grew from 9,815 to 12,088, a 23 percent increase of 2,273 people.

Hayden’s population increased by nearly 11 percent, as 176 net new residents over the decade brought the West Routt County town from 1,634 people in 2000 to 1,810 in 2010.

The growth rates were much slower in South Routt County municipalities.

Oak Creek grew by a net of 35 people in the millennium’s first decade, a 4 percent increase, from 849 people to 884.

The town of Yampa saw a net decrease of 14 people — tongue-in-cheek analysts might wonder if they moved to Oak Creek — as the rural town’s population dropped from 443 to 429, a decrease of about 3 percent.

Phippsburg’s population was not measured in the 2000 census, but the town registered 204 people in 2010.

“That doesn’t surprise me in any way, shape or form,” Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said Wednesday about growth rates across the county. “I think a lot of people had a feeling that the outlying areas are growing so much faster, and I never bought that.”

For comparison’s sake, the Moffat County city of Craig saw a population increase of about 3 percent over the decade, reaching 9,464 people in 2010.

Kremmling’s population decreased more than 8 percent, and Aspen grew about 13 percent, Vail grew about 17 percent and Durango grew about 21 percent.

In addition to population figures, the mountain of census data measures demographics ranging from ethnicity and race to age and housing statistics, broken down by municipalities, counties, political districts and more. The numbers can have tangible impacts for communities and residents by influencing choices such as political legislation, public policy or funding allocations to nonprofit groups. Population figures also will be used to determine congressional seats in this year’s redistricting process.

The census number-crunching accelerated with Wednesday’s data release and will unfold in weeks and months ahead.

“I think that we all — citizens, elected officials, businesspeople, everyone — need to get together and think about how this is going to affect us, and are there policies that need to be changed,” Mitsch Bush said.

Census data also can provide hard numbers to illustrate economic trends.

While Routt County’s population grew by 3,819 people from 2000 to 2010, for example, the number of housing units in the county grew by 5,086. That 45 percent increase in housing units is, by percent, one of the largest such increases in Colorado over the past decade.

The I-News Network, a Colorado-based nonprofit investigative news collaborative, provided initial comparisons of 2000 and 2010 census data that showed that as Steamboat’s growth in housing units outpaced its growth in people, the city’s number and proportion of vacant homes increased, as well.

While 2000 census data classified about 36 percent of Steamboat’s housing units as “vacant,” that percentage rose to nearly 48 percent in 2010.

Data also shows that Steamboat Springs is becoming a more diverse community.

The city’s Hispanic population grew from 307 in 2000 to 1,025 in 2010, representing an increase from about 3 percent of the city’s total population to nearly 9 percent — growth evident in increasingly busy English Language Learner programs in Steamboat public schools, for example.

In 2000, about 93 percent of Steamboat children were white, compared with about 82 percent in 2010.

Tatiana Achcar, executive director of Integrated Community, said the numbers reflect her experience working with the region’s immigrant population.

“We see minor changes and ups and downs, but the big picture is that the entire demographic of the country is changing, (including) in Colorado and ski resort towns,” Achcar said. “Hopefully, people recognize that when coming to the table to talk about policies that affect the community.”

—To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail


exduffer 6 years, 2 months ago

Thing to research.1- Did city sale tax increase the same percentage? 2- Did visitor numbers increase the same percentage?


MrTaiChi 6 years, 2 months ago

I assume that some of that 19% in Routt County was due to young people doing their homework. Here's a reach connecting this article to current national events:

Traditional marriage was viewed for, oh let's say four thousand years of civilization, to be for procreation and reproduction within cultural institutions. Yeah the church got into the act in the first millenium, and there are people who can't have children or choose not to who marry, and marriage continues after child bearing age. Institutions are not defined by their irregular edges. The general definition of purpose was historically accurate.

Now President Obama has decided that he will not defend or enforce the validly enacted Defense of Marriage Act. Isn't part of his oath of office to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and to see that they are faithfully executed? What other laws will he direct the Department of Justice to ignore because of his view of the Constitution? What a howl there would have been if Prsident Bush directed the Treasury Department not to issue checks to fund Planned Parenthood.

Are we a government of laws, not men. I guess that depends on your ideology.


pitpoodle 6 years, 2 months ago

I was struck with this: "While Routt County’s population grew by 3,819 people from 2000 to 2010, for example, the number of housing units in the county grew by 5,086. That 45 percent increase in housing units is, by percent, one of the largest such increases in Colorado over the past decade."
This statement says to me, we do not need a tax increase (new SBS property tax) to create any more housing units. What can they be thinking?


weststmbtres 6 years, 2 months ago

Quote from the article above;

"While Routt County’s population grew by 3,819 people from 2000 to 2010, for example, the number of housing units in the county grew by 5,086. That 45 percent increase in housing units is, by percent, one of the largest such increases in Colorado over the past decade."

Not sure if there is any way to figure out how much of this was vacation ownership or second homes. The units built in the last decade are probably not directly proportional to the 36 percent vacancy number stated. This is precisely why we didn't need Steamboat 700 flooding the market with even more units. We are in this real estate mess right now partly because of national pressure and national economic issues but also because we've overbuilt and undersold.

A quote from Ed Abbey "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell"

If you dig a little deeper this info shows that we are actually losing people. The article below states that 4423 children were born in Routt County during the same time frame. So we actually lost about 500 people somewhere along the line.

As we enter the next decades lets think about our community and where we want to be in 2020, 2030, 2040 and beyond. Creating a master plan like WSSAP that is based on a severely flawed premise is not the answer.

The premise I'm talking about is the exponential population growth everyone keeps predicting. 300-400 people a year hardly warrants doubling or tripling the size of our town. Especially when the majority of that growth is babies born into existing homes.

The fact is that 30 percent or more of the housing that would have been sold in S700 would have been to people in the construction and building trades. The same people who would be building the houses they are living in. Where does that get us in 2030 and beyond when the building boom created by S700 or whatever development we finally settle on ends? Imagine the mess we'd be in if there were 2-3 times more poeple in the valley working in construction and real estate related businesses and we had another downturn like the current one we are in.


Scott Wedel 6 years, 2 months ago

Also in the numbers is about 4% growth for Moffat County and Craig. Steamboat may have done better than anywhere else of absorbing it's growth and not having nearby towns share in the growth.

This is going to make redistricting for the CC interesting. Now SB has over half of the county's population and there is obviously additional population immediately surrounding SB. So redistricting is either gong to have 1 rural district and two mostly SB districts, 1 SB district and 2 mixed SB/rural districts or so on. There is no longer any way to draw the districts without creating the serious possibility of two SB residents on the CC. A Mountain area + South Routt District?

Mr TaiChi, What Obama did with the DOMA is so carefully legal that you really need to calm down. He didn't, like Bush, start secretly wiretapping or abusing prisoners, contrary to established law. All that happened was the Justice Dept decided they recognize that gays and lesbians are groups that experience discrimination and thus they cannot defend the DOMA in court. And thus, Congress or whomever, if they want DOMA defended will need to find their own counsel. That change does not change the current laws and by telling Congress and others now, it allows those to organize defenses for DOMA cases. It just states what the Justice Dept will be arguing in those court cases.

Pitpoodle, I think the growth in housing units is just about in line with how many are owned by people out of the area and is thus second homes or vacation housing. So the ratio of residents to second homes did not change that much.


Steve Lewis 6 years, 2 months ago

weststbtres, Your post speaks for me too. Well put.

We will find that the SB growth, since 2008, looks very different than the decade's trend. It probably looks different than the state’s trend since 2008 as well. Your 30% of the SB700 homes being for construction workers agrees with my impression that construction was 30% of our economy in 2007. Current permitting levels are maybe 10% of that year? That implies a lot of workers have left town since 2008. We likely had peak population in 2008, and may have just begun to stabilize a population around our other industries.

The overall trend bodes well for SB as a desirable place to live and visit, but I hope others will agree with you and Diane Mitsch-Bush that the premise of our policies is very changed. My opinion is, by 2030 we cannot be sure of viable air service at today’s capacity, and we should begin planning for how we will mitigate that.


doug monger 6 years, 2 months ago

Scott, all three of the BCC districts presently (since at least 1990)include portions of the City of SS. District #3 is entirely in the city, District #2 includes areas in North and West SS, and District #1 includes areas in East and South SS. Doug Monger Routt County Commissioner


Scott Wedel 6 years, 2 months ago

I think it is interesting to compare the 2009 estimated populations by State of Colorado (DOLA) vs the 2010 census (as close to actual as we going to get). Steamboat: 2010 (census) 12,088 2009 (DOLA) 12,143 Hayden: (census) 1,810 (DOLA) 1,859 Oak Creek: (census) 884 (DOLA) 979 Yampa: (census) 429 (DOLA) 527 Craig: (census) 9.464 (DOLA) 9,432

It is interesting that South Routt towns of Oak Creek and Yampa have actual populations 10% and 20% less than DOLA's estimates. That is a pretty big variation.

Steve, Things have changed so much over the past 20 years that it borders on the bizarre to think that an issue of today, airline seats, will be that relevant in 20 years. 20 years ago, the summers here were pretty quiet, there were few year round construction jobs, winter construction was a rarity, almost nobody worked remotely, people took longer vacations and so on.

Over the next 20 years, I expect virtually no growth in tourism. Trends are for people to take shorter vacations. Ski industry has shown no ability to grow outside the demographic of those of European descent and that population is getting older and not growing.

I do expect more and people wanting and able to live in a place like SB while their coworkers are elsewhere around the USA and the world.

So the real key for this area is to preserve the desirable features of the area and not allow short term solutions create bigger long term problems.


Scott Wedel 6 years, 2 months ago

Homey, Yes two of the current CC districts include a little of SB, but SB's population is a relatively small portion of the current district #1's and #2's overall population.

When they redistrict then SB and the SB suburbs are going to be a much bigger percentage of at least one of the rural districts (currently #1 and #2). With Oak Creek and Yampa becoming relatively smaller part of the County, it would appear that district #1 would have to add over 1,000 SB residents. Well, that might change the profile of that district and make SB/County issues more important for a candidate than South Routt issues.


weststmbtres 6 years, 2 months ago

In 2009 it was a lot easier to estimate 2010 population only looking one year ahead. So yes our estimates from 2009 are pretty close. That's not surprising at all.

I'm talking about the population estimates that were made a decade ago when the WSSAP was being drafted. 25K, 26K, 27K were all numbers for 2010 that were thrown around back in 2000. Nothing but scare tactics to try and push through something we didn't and still don't need.

We need to be careful as we enter the next phase in Steamboats future. Creating a economy based on construction where the workers are the ones filling 30-40% of the housing being constructed does nothing for us except postpone the inevitable. It sets us up for an even bigger crash in the future.


Scott Ford 6 years, 2 months ago

Good Morning Scott W. - I truly appreciate you insights to the local economy. The growth in our visitor economy will be incremental at best. There are only so many visitors and we are not the only place on the planet that competes for them.

Initiatives like Bike Town USA are great ideas - It leverages existing infrastructure so that it more fully utilized. Will it have an economic impact? Absolutely yes? Will it be of great economic benefit? Perhaps / at a minimum it won't hurt. It is some low hanging fruit we would be foolish to pass by. Is it economic development? NO WAY.

I am finishing up a big project and I am looking forward to our future exchanges.


Scott Wedel 6 years, 2 months ago

Scott F. The pursuit of Bike Town USA is a sore spot with me because any cyclist that has ridden in other cities would instantly recognize SB should not qualify as a Bike Town.

How is a cyclist supposed to traverse downtown? Via a curvy shared use trail along the river where even 10 mph is often too fast? Not having bike paths on any of Lincoln, Oak or Yampa is just bad.

The Bike Town USA issue is a cynical example of how things so often work in SB. That the priority is the publicly from the label of Bike Town USA instead of truly being friendly to cyclists. That the goal so often tends to be the award to be publicized instead of committing to wise policies that coincidentally make the City eligible for some award. Better cities do what is right for cyclists and building efficiency instead of aiming for titles like Bike Town USA or LEEDS. Cities that truly care about those underlying issues tend to see flaws in the criteria from those organizations and do what is most effective for their city even if it means they don't qualify for some silly award. SB is the exact opposite in that the City periodically finds some award that sounds good and then is willing to say whatever needed to get it and doesn't care if they fail to follow through once having received it.


Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 2 months ago

I couldn't agree more Scott. Indicative of the attitude today which is if you say something often enough maybe people will begin to believe it. Nice idea but let's get real here, Ski Town USA which is credible but debatable will lose its credibility if Steamboat willingly promotes this "Bike Town USA" moniker without the substance behind it to justify such a claim. I could think of a half dozen towns that could legitimately lay claim to that title and SB surely is not one of them. Try Portland, Madison, Boulder or Moab to name just a few.

Maybe if the backers of this initiative were broad minded enough to also extend the emphasis to other types of bikes such as motorcycles and build on reclaiming the draw this town once had for its vintage motorcycle races etc. they could begin to build something with credibility, but bicycles alone will not even come close. BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!!! LOL :)


exduffer 6 years, 2 months ago

Ski Town, Bike Town, Cow Town, Chi Town, Mad Town, My Kind of Town. Keep it 'The Boat' and they will come.


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