Census shows mix of gains, losses for San Luis Valley

SAGUACHE COUNTY — The 2020 Census legacy files were released to the public on Aug. 12. Some surprising results were seen within the larger picture of Colorado’s population growth.

Colorado has seen a 14.8% increase in total population from 2010 to 2020 with the largest increase in El Paso County which grew by 730,395 people. The San Luis Valley and surrounding counties were a mix of gains and losses of population since 2010.

2020 SLV population numbers and percent gain or loss are as follows:

  • Alamosa County: 16,376 — gain of 6%
  • Conejos County: 7,461 — loss of 9.6%
  • Costilla County: 3,499 — loss of 0.7%
  • Mineral County: 865 — gain of 21.5%
  • Rio Grande County: 11,539 — loss of 3.7%
  • Saguache County: 6,368 — gain of 4.3%

Mineral County recorded the largest percentage of gains in population within the San Luis Valley area, adding 153 people that now call Mineral County home. Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs also released information in regards to municipalities.

According to DOLA, “The Town of Center’s historic population numbers in 2000 the population was 2,392. In 2010, the population was 2,230. Finally, in 2020 the population was 1,929. The 2020 population loss for the Town of Center is negative 301 persons, equaling a negative growth of 13.5%.”

Rio Grande County also saw a loss of population overall with Monte Vista losing 197 people which equals a negative growth of 4.4%. Other notable population losses were in Antonito, Manassa, Moffat, Creede, Blanca, La Jara, Hooper, Romeo, San Luis and Del Norte.

Sanford’s population remained unchanged from 2010 to 2020.

Crestone, South Fork, Saguache, Alamosa, and Bonanza all gained in population from the 2010 numbers. The Town of Saguache added 54 people to the population since 2010, which is an 11.1% increase in 10 years.

Population data from the 2020 Census helps to guide decisions for many facets of life in the San Luis Valley. This data is used to determine local, state and federal funding, grant opportunities, health care, education, road construction projects, infrastructure, policing, fire and ambulance services, and political representation.

One of the largest impacts is to redistricting. The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission has released a proposed redistricting map. This proposed map impacts both State and Federal representation of regions in Colorado. Colorado is set to gain a Congressional seat in the 2022 election, which is a direct result of the population growth in the state.

The redistricting maps have not been finalized, and are still open for public comment via the online redistricting portal run by the Redistricting Commission and by public hearings.

According to the Commission, “The Joint Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions will hold public hearings in Commerce City, Brighton and Colorado Springs this week on the preliminary maps for the state’s eight congressional districts, as well as the 65 state house and 35 senate districts. Colorado residents will have the opportunity to testify about their communities and communicate directly with the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions. Coloradans will have the opportunity at each hearing to testify in person and remotely. Coloradans are asked to sign up to testify in advance and can do so by visiting https://redistricting.colorado.gov/content/meeting-comment/”.