Colorado’s Population Increasing


Ella Reynolds, Reporter

You may have noticed that your favorite hiking spot has been more busy with people running, biking, or hiking on the trail, the path crowded with people and their dogs. Durango’s population has spiked, and is expected to increase by 66% in La Plata County, with other parts of Colorado increasing by 79% by the year 2050.

Durango School District 9-R superintendent Dan Snowberger moved to Durango in 2011, when the district was climbing out of recession.  

“We increase by 50-70 students annually. I see Colorado as a forward growing and progressive state. Growth will have a good impact towards the districts and Durango itself. A lot of people like Durango being small, but the growth is inevitable,” said Snowberger.

The expected population increase will occur mainly in the front range. It is estimated Colorado will gain about 3 million people over the next 38 years.

Tom Kyser has been teaching choir at Durango High School since 1986, and has been living in Colorado since 1981. He is used to new people in the community.

“I think the legalization of marijuana could be what is bringing some new people. Even before that, people were moving here because of the natural beauty, healthy lifestyle, and skiing,” said Kyser.

A large portion of the incoming population increase will be around the western slope like areas such as Pueblo, Ouray, Montrose, and La Plata and El Paso counties.

Many who move to Durango share the same main concern: the cost of living. Durango has a high price point for homes and business venues, and many companies don’t pay their employees higher wages to help compensate.

“Naturally in a free market prices will increase due to supply and demand…right now La PLata County is seeing a strong demand for affordable homes. Plus, with increased building and labor costs any new homes will be at a high price,” said Keller Williams realtor Jeanette Wages.

Although prices will rise, we can prevent using more space by utilizing certain methods such as vertical building, as opposed to horizontal building.

Durango Chamber of Commerce member Jack Llewellyn supports reforming building codes to accommodate population growth.

“We need to plan for higher density, the city and county needs to plan to go higher than four stories. If we don’t do that we will be on the path of Aspen and Telluride, having vacation and seasonal homes that become more expensive,” said Llewellyn.

Another issue is congestion. Roads and buildings are currently being constructed around the town, preparing for the growth.

“We will mainly be dealing with ingestion. We need to increase our taxes to build roads and expand offices if needed, that includes the expansion of the airport. If people can’t fly in and out, it will cut back to people who commute to work,” said Wages.

Additional concerns, such as the environmental impact, have also been considered. The population in Colorado is increasing, this could create either a positive or negative impact depending on how it is handled as a state, and as a community.

“We need to recognize that we need to maintain the land in the way we see it. Some people don’t have the same level of respect for the land as people who have lived here,” said Snowberger.

The significant and sudden population increase will have a huge impact on not only the community, but on students and future generations to come.