Volume 104, Number 30 - July 26, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Pinedale’s population booming
Pinedale is among the top four cities and towns in Wyoming that have experienced the largest percentage increase in population between 2005 and 2006, and since the most recent census was taken in 2000.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2000 and 2006, Pinedale experienced a 31.7 percent increase in population. A 10.7 percent increase in the population of Pinedale from 2005 to 2006 was also recorded.
Sublette County, as a whole, has seen a 24.3 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2006. Pinedale led the growth in the county, adding 188 people, according to the Sublette County Socioeconomics Web site.
“While the increase in population numbers may appear small to some observers, there are a few things to keep in mind,” Assistant to the Mayor Lauren McKeever said.
“A nearly 32 percent increase in population in six years for a small town like Pinedale is significant when considering available resources.” The census estimates do not include the number of rotational workers, which fluctuates according to the level of gas field activity, but instead focuses on those with permanent residency. If the number were to include those workers, the population would be much higher.
“Our local socioeconomic analyst estimates a transient worker population of between 2,000 and 3,000 people, at any given time,” McKeever said. “That’s nearly double of our census population.”
Sublette County Socioeconomic Analyst Jeffrey Jacquet said he would attribute the increase to the creation of new jobs. “I think the vast majority is caused by people moving here to work in the oil and gas fields,” he said.
In addition to the workers in the gas and oil fields, Jacquet said land annexed by the town has also had an impact on the population increase.
Population growth can be both bad and good for a town’s economy, and McKeever said some questions have to be answered in order to determine which is true for Pinedale.
The question of having enough housing is always an issue since a town or city must supply enough available housing to meet the demands of the population. Pinedale’s aging infrastructure must also be taken into consideration, to be effective in serving those people moving into the town all at once, McKeever said. There is also the issue of adequately meeting the needs of new residents moving into the area while maintaining the long-standing tourist base, a business that many have worked long and hard to develop, McKeever said.
Rapidly increasing populations can also have adverse affects on towns like Pinedale and steps need to be taken to make sure the future of the municipality is taken into consideration. “The speed of population growth can present challenges to a small town,” she said. “Policy makers need to be mindful that decisions they have made, and are now making, have a direct affect on Pinedale.” In Pinedale, McKeever said policy makers want to be certain that growth is smart, maintains economic diversity and that the city grows without the negative impacts that can come from too much growth too fast. With the way things have been going, Jacquet said he expects this trend will most likely continue for some time and Pinedale will continue to grow.
“There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t continue as long as the development continues in the Jonah Field …,” he said.
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