Indicators report released

Findings suggest 25 percent of valley residents are 'working poor'

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More people entering retirement age are moving to the Yampa Valley. The area is becoming more ethnically diverse. Telecommuters and location-neutral businesses are becoming more prevalent.

Those are just a few of the key findings of the Community Indicators Project report for 2005-06.

The fifth edition of the report, which has been months in the making, was released Sunday by Yampa Valley Partners of Routt and Moffat counties.

The report was included in Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today and will be included in today's Craig Daily Press and Hayden Valley Press.

The report is a tool for decision makers who want to make good decisions and track whether they are reaching community goals, said Audrey Danner, executive director of Yampa Valley Partners.

The report provides data about four types of "indicators" -- social, including health, poverty, education and public safety; economic, including housing, transportation, employment and wages; environmental, including water, agriculture and natural resources; and civic, including community planning, philanthropy and local government.

"I think it's a very important document," said Paul Strong, chairman of the Yampa Valley Partners Board of Directors and manager of the city of Steamboat Springs. "I think that a lot of us will be making decisions over the next year or two based on what some of the indicators have shown."

There are several key findings, as listed at the front of the report, including:

n The aging of the Baby Boomer generation has resulted in more people retiring to the Yampa Valley and an increasing number of second-home owners who decide to live in the area full time.

n Hispanics are expected to comprise 10.5 percent of the population of Moffat County by 2005, and 3.5 percent of the population in Routt County.

n Comparing cost of living and living wage figures to actual wages paid suggests that between 1/4 and 1/3 of Yampa Valley residents may be considered "working poor" or struggling economically.

n About 21 percent of Moffat County's work force commutes to Routt County jobs, making the counties more economically interdependent.

n About 5 percent of Routt County workers can be considered "telecommuters," a change made possible with improvements to telecommunications and air transportation.

n Upland grasslands and shrub lands in the Yampa Valley support the only remaining population of Columbian sharptailed grouse and some of the few remaining populations of greater sage grouse in Colorado.

n Data on farms show an increase in small or part-time operations, as well as consolidation of commercial operations.

"Everything in here will be used by somebody," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said about the report.

Copies and presentations of the report are available by contacting Audrey Danner at 824-8233, ext. 241, or audrey@yampavalleypartners.com.

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