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Census Beaurea Reports, El Paso County now most populated in State

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado — Eagle County's remains home to more than 50,000 souls, according to Census Bureau reports released Wednesday, despite anecdotes that the county hemorrhaging population.

The 2010 Census puts Eagle County's population at 52,197, up 25 percent from 41,659 in 2000.

Of those, 30 percent are Hispanic or Latino, 15,689.

Interestingly, almost exactly half of Eagle County's school children are Hispanic or Latino, according to school district statistics.

Statewide, 20 percent of Colorado's 5 million people are Hispanic or Latino.

The Colorado State Demographers office has also projected that Eagle County's population could hit 100,000 in the next 50 years.

The new data will be used by lawmakers to redraw Colorado's congressional districts for both Congress and the Colorado State Legislature.

The last time congressional districts were redrawn, Eagle County ended up in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District, anchored in Boulder County. When that happened, Eagle County was represented in Congress by Boulder Democrat Mark Udall, who was succeeded in Congress by Boulder Democrat Jared Polis.

Colorado did not lose or gain a congressional seat in the latest Census count. It gained a congressional seat after the 2000 count.

The Census data will also be used to allocate federal funds for roads and schools.

A July 2008 estimate from the Census Bureau put Eagle County's population at 52,331. In 2005, the estimate was 47,893.

Statewide statistics

Non-whites increased in all Census categories, although whites still comprise the largest population, 70 percent, the Census found.

But non-white populations are growing much faster.

Colorado's white population is about 3.5 million, up 9.9 percent since 2000.

But the population of Hispanics of any race increased by 41.2 percent since 2000. Twenty percent of us are Hispanics of any race, 1 million.

The explosion of the minority populations is no surprise to Colorado demographer Elizabeth Garner, who said they tend to be younger than whites.

“If you have fewer people over people 45 you're going to have a higher concentration in the number of people who give birth so you tend to grow faster,” she said.

El Paso passed Denver as Colorado's most populous county.

The Census figures show El Paso County grew by more than 105,000 people between 2000 and 2010 and now has more than 622,000 residents. The city and county of Denver grew by more than 45,500 and its population stands at just over 600,000.

The census shows there are just more than 1 million Hispanics in Colorado. In 2000, there were about 736,000, comprising about 17 percent of the state's population.

Garner said she expects that El Paso County will stay ahead of Denver because while El Paso County has a larger area to continue to develop.

“Denver is landlocked,” Garner said. She said El Paso County's growth is also spurred by its airport, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado College, and its large military population. Fort Carson is in El Paso County south of Colorado Springs. Fort Carson's military population of 27,000 is double what it was in 2003.

Denver is still the largest city in the state at 600,158, followed by Colorado Springs with 416,427. Aurora is still the third largest city at 325,078. Fort Collins saw a big percentage jump in their population since 2000, growing by 21.4 percent to be at nearly 144,000 residents.

Colorado's population continues to consolidate along Interstate 25, while the state's eastern fringes continue to decline.

Five counties along Colorado's eastern border with Kansas - Sedgwick, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Prowers and Baca - each lost 10 percent or more of their populations during the 2000s. Populations are also declining along the state's southern edge in the San Juan mountains. Huerfano and Mineral counties both dropped by more than 10 percent, with Costilla, Conejos and Rio Grande counties dropping between 0.1 and 10 percent each.

The Census will continue to release more detailed data in the coming months, including information about numbers of households, family profiles, and race figures showing which countries people are coming to the U.S. from.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.