Lone Tree - Douglas County continues to be one of the nation's fastest growing communities, according to updated
estimates to be released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Susan Davis of Highlands Ranch has her own ideas why.
"I can't imagine a better place to live, with wildlife, the plains and the mountains right out your back door," said the
stay-at-home mother of two as she shopped at Park Meadows mall on Wednesday. "But the main thing is the schools - clean campuses,
good teachers in a friendly place to live."
Such attractions helped place Douglas County seventh among all U.S. counties in percentage growth this decade, according
to the new census numbers.
From 2000 to 2006, Douglas
County's population has grown 50 percent, from 175,766 to an estimated 263,621.
Weld County ranked 48th among all U.S. counties, has grown 31 percent since 2000, to an estimated 236,857.
Of the 87,855-person increase in population in Douglas County since 2000, about 76 percent resulted from people moving
in. The rest resulted from births outpacing deaths.
El Paso continues to be the state's most populous county with an estimated 576,884 residents, followed by Denver with 566,974
and Arapahoe with 537,197. The least populous is San Juan, with 578 residents, according to the census bureau.
Long seen as a bedroom community for Denver commuters, Douglas County jobs have grown by nearly 21 percent since 2000,
according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rest of the metro region has seen a net loss of jobs.
In 2005, Money magazine touted Douglas County towns Parker and Castle Rock as the fastest- and second-fastest growing job
markets among 1,300 cities.
Ron Payne, a Realtor in Doug las County since 1994, said the clean air, Colorado's sunshine, recreation, cultural arts,
good jobs and relatively affordable housing all give the region a leg up in attracting residents.
"We have everything here but a beach," said Payne, who works for RE/MAX Alliance in Parker, "and that's a nice place to
go on vacation."
Not everyone is pleased by Douglas County's boomtown status.
"Everybody calls it a blessing, but I call it a curse," said Jan Schneider, a county native, bird-watcher and avid environmentalist.
"We've lost so much of what this county is about - the open spaces, the wildlife, the seclusion from the cities. How much
more can we give up until we're just like everyone else?"
Computer-assisted reporting editor Jeffrey A. Roberts contributed to this story.
Staff writer Joey Bunch can be reached at 303-954-1174 or email@example.com.