What is the real population of our town? Well, that depends. If you look up the 2010 census population numbers for each town in Routt and Moffat counties, you will get exact population numbers for people living in the town limits. However, if a business wanted to open they would want to know the local area draw of customers. In other words, how many customers live in the nearby area who shop, eat and work inside the town?
Fortunately the U.S. Census Bureau tracks population centers in rural areas. The population units are called Census County Divisions. A CCD is a subdivision of a county that is a relatively permanent statistical area established cooperatively by the Census Bureau and state and local government authorities. The CCD numbers are used for presenting decennial census statistics in those states that do not have well-defined and stable minor civil divisions that serve as local governments. The CCDs are made up of census blocks that are defined geographically.
Routt County has four CCDs: Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa. The CCDs include the actual town’s population plus population of unincorporated areas that are geographically close. Moffat County has three CCDs: Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur.
A couple of examples of CCDs are in Steamboat Springs. There are developments such as Steamboat II, Silver Spur and Heritage Park that are considered in Routt County but not in the city limits. Folks who live in these developments most likely eat, shop and work in Steamboat Springs. Likewise in Craig, folks who live in Shadow Mountain are not considered in the city limits, but often those folks eat, shop and work inside Craig city limits.
Economic development and chamber websites often carry CCD population numbers to help businesses understand their potential customer base. By getting inside the numbers, we can better understand how many people are in our rural population centers.