Rocky Mountain high population: Colorado’s population increase impacts natives

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Colorado’s Rocky Mountains attract thousands of visitors each year. Now some of those visitors are staying for good. [Photo by Chaye Gutierrez]

It’s almost impossible to drive from Denver to Boulder, from the Front Range to the mountains or even to the grocery store without seeing the infamous “Native” mountain sticker slapped across the bumper of some Subaru when cruising around Colorado. If you don’t see that one, you’ll definitely see the “Not a native, but I got here as fast as I could!” edition somewhere along your drive.

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DU student Alejandro Chavez was interviewed on a Monday afternoon in the Johnson-McFarlane Residence Hall commons. Question: Have you been impacted by the influx of people moving to Colorado? Answer: “Traffic is definitely a minus right now. I guess there’s also a lot of gentrification happening in a lot of low-income neighborhoods where a lot of people are moving into them and a lot of people are moving out to try to find other affordable housing.”

  1. True natives, however, could soon be outnumbered in their own state as Colorado just secured the spot of the third fas

test growing state in the United States in 2015, according to the Green Rush Daily. This growth may not be new, however. The Denver Office of Economic Development found that the metro area’s population of 2.7 million people has grown at a rate above the national rate in every decade since 1930 and is expected to increase by approximately 50 percent from 2.7 million to 3.9 million by 2030.

The reasons for moving to to the Centennial State are numerous and varied, but some Colorado natives believe the economy plays a large role. Silas Carter, a first year at the University of Denver and a Colorado native, believes the expanding economy and job opportunities are appealing to transplants.
“We have a lot of expanding tech industries and business opportunities and all around development,” Carter said.

Some believe the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has contributed to both the economy and the allure for new residents. The Washington Post reported that legal marijuana was a $700 million industry for the state in 2014.

“Just from having lived here, ever since marijuana was legalized, I feel like there has been a big influx of people moving here, especially because it’s one of the only places where it’s legal to do it recreationally,” said Denver native and DU freshman Michael Young.

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DU freshman Silas Carter was also interviewed in the J-Mac commons on a Monday afternoon. Question: What do you think makes people move to Colorado? Answer: “I think Colorado is considered a very outdoorsy state and I think that draws a lot of people in. We’re not super populated right now but our population is definitely on the rise and I think that’s because we have a lot to offer. We have mountains. We have amazing outdoor opportunities. Also, we have a lot of expanding tech industries and business opportunities and all around development.”

However, the economy and marijuana legalization may not be the only
attractions Colorado has to offer to people
rom around the country. Nearly 300 days of sunshine each year support a healthy lifestyle that has secured the state’s ranking as one of Health Magazine’s top 10 healthiest states in the country every year.
“I think we have a lot to offer considering the Rocky Mountains and skiing,” said DU freshman and Denver native Alejandro Chavez.

“I think Colorado is considered a very outdoorsy state and I think that draws a lot of people in,” Carter said. “We have a lot to offer. We have mountains. We have amazing outdoor opportunities.”

While the influx of new Coloradans poses dilemmas for state infrastructure and employers, it can even impact the average citizen on a day-to-day basis. The largest complaint natives hold about their new neighbors? Most say it’s the traffic they’ve brought with them.

“Traffic is definitely a big minus right now,” Chavez said. His supposed 20-minute drive to his hometown of Lakewood, CO can take anywhere from 40 minutes to upwards of an hour with added cars on the road.

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DU freshman Michael Young answered questions about Colorado on a Monday night in the J-Mac commons. Question: What do you think makes people move to Colorado? Answer: “I feel like it’s kind of a hidden gem in the United States. People can point it out on the map but they don’t really know what’s here and then when they come here they fall in love with it.”

“The transit systems are not able to keep up with all the extra people,” Young said. “It’s a luster at times. It’s a cluster all the time.”

It’s no secret that Colorado will have to adjust to it’s booming popularity to meet the demands of transplants while keeping natives happy. The national economic downturn has left people from around the
United States looking westward for new job opportunities and lifestyles, creating a battle for Colorful Colorado between the natives and those who “got here as fast as they could.”

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One thought on “Rocky Mountain high population: Colorado’s population increase impacts natives

  1. This is actually an interesting issue to analyze, and for Colorado natives it is a problem. You touched on the factors that, in my opinion, had the most impact on the population growth of Colorado “non-natives”; marijuana legalization, our economy, and how Colorado is so colorful and healthy. Your language is persuading and welcoming, but no opinionated, which made this piece strong and enjoyable to read. The quote integration is also great, and I was intrigued with the addition of how traffic has been getting worse. I really like the picture you chose for the piece and the closing statement! I can tell this piece was written by either a Colorado native or just someone who appreciates the state. All in all very good article!

    Like

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