Research and Findings

Overview

The research and findings on this page provide background information, resources, and support for recommendations in the 2018-2022 Recreation and Conservation Plan. The research discussed focuses on the Washington State’s demographics, specifically changes in population growth, age structure, race and ethnic diversity, and income levels. The last section of this page concerns the Mapped Inventory created for the plan and data related to amount of public land in the state as of 2014.

Demographics of State
  • Growth in incorporated cities and towns outpaced unincorporated areas of the state between 1970-2010.
  • By region, more people live in incorporated cities and towns than in unincorporated areas, except for the Islands and Peninsula regions.
  • Population will increase by 26% by 2040.
  • As a percentage, there will be less school-age persons and more seniors by 2040.
Population Growth

The population of Washington State increased by 49% between 1970 and 2010 from 3,413,250 to 6,724,540 people. Since 1990, more people live in incorporated cities and towns than in unincorporated areas at an increasing rate. The increase in population in incorporated cities and towns outpaced the increase across the state at 54%. Conversely, the increase in population in the unincorporated portions of the state grew at a slower pace of 41%.[1] A majority of the population increase occurred in the five largest counties: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, and Clark.[2]

A major difference in population by planning region is more people live in unincorporated areas of the state in the Islands and Peninsula regions. For the rest of the regions, more people live in incorporated cities and towns.  For a map of the planning regions, click here.

By 2040, the state population is projected to increase by 2,375,546 or 26%.[3] The majority of the population increase is projected to occur from net migration into the state.[4] This increase in population is higher than the expected increase for the United States which is about 19%.[5]

Age

School-age population

For persons 19 and under, the population is expected to increase from 1,769,895 to 2,135,522, the percent of the school-age population is expected to decrease from 26 to 23 percent.[6] This is similar to the national projection which is a decrease in the percent of the population under 18 from 23% in 2014 to 21% in 2040.[7]

 

Senior Population

The senior population, age 65 and older, is expected to increase from 15% for the population in 2016 to 22% by 2040.[8] This is similar to the national projection of 20% of the population being 65 years or older by 2030.[9]

 

[10]chart reference

Race and Ethnicity

The racial and ethnic diversity of Washington State is expected to increase. In 2010, persons in racial and ethnic groups were 18% of the total population. By 2040, the persons in racial and ethnic groups is expected to increase to 28%.[11] This is similar to trends across the country. The US Census projects that “minority” populations are expected to make up 56% of the national population by 2060 resulting in a plurality of racial and ethnic groups.[12]

In the chart below, AIAN is American Indian and Alaska Native and NHOPI is Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Income
  • Median household income varies by county.[13] The median household income in Washington State in 2015 was $57,244 which is slightly higher than the national median household income of $53,889.[14] A majority of counties (31 of 40) have a lower median household income than the state amount. Median household income is often used as a parameter to assess poverty or disparities in a community.[15]  For a map of the planning regions, click here.
Mapped Inventory

A map of outdoor recreation facilities and recreation and conservation land was created to identify the existing inventory of land and facilities available.

The mapped inventory can be used to:

  • Find parks, trails, and conservation lands, and
  • Identify gaps in the recreation and conservation system.

For example, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board used the mapped inventory to prioritize grant program funds. The mapped inventory was used to identify “park equity gaps” in the recreation and conservation system.

In 2014, the Recreation and Conservation Office updated the Public Lands Inventory to reassess the total amount of local, state, and federally owned natural resource and recreation lands in Washington State. See the table below for the acres by land owner.

 

 

Owner Acres % of Natural Resource and Recreation Lands
State Parks 112,282 0.6%
Department of Fish and Wildlife 622,343 3.1%
Cities and counties 622,878 3.1%
Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Lands 2,569,089 13.0%
Department of Natural Resources Uplands 3,173,187 16.0%
Federal 12,705,335 164.2%
Total 19,805,114 100%
TOTAL STATE 45,663,000

Overall, natural resource and recreation lands make up 43 percent of the state land base the majority of which is owned by the federal government.[16]

Of the state owned land [6,476,901], 931,805 acres or 14% are dedicated to recreation and conservation purposes. Of the total acres in Washington [45,663,000], only 2% of land is dedicated by the state to outdoor recreation and conservation. It is unknown the amount of land owned by local and federal agencies that is for recreation and conservation purposes

 

 

Owner Acres % of Natural Resource and Recreation Lands
State Parks 112,282 0.6%
Department of Fish and Wildlife 622,343 3.1%
Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Lands 2,569,089 13.0%
Department of Natural Resources Uplands 3,173,187 16.0%
6,476,901 32.70%

 

 

 

State Land Acres % of Recreation and Conservation Lands
Developed Recreation Land 36,908 4.0%
Conservation Land 224,661 24.1%
Habitat and Passive Recreation Land 670,236 71.9%
Total 931,805 100.0%

[1] Washington State Office of Financial Management, Post-censal Estimates of April 1 Population, 1960 to Present” 2017 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/april1/hseries/ofm_april1_postcensal_estimates_pop_1960-present.xlsx

[2] Washington State Office of Financial Management, 2016 Population Trends, 2016 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/april1/poptrends.pdf

[3]  Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecast of the State Population, November 2016 Forecast 2017 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/stfc2016/stfc_2016.xlsx

[4]  Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecast of the State Population, November 2016 Forecast 2017 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/stfc2016/stfc_2016.pdf

[5]  Colby, Sandra L. and Jennifer M. Ortman, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014-2060, United State Census Bureau, 2015 https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

[6]  Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecast of the State Population, November 2016 Forecast 2017 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/stfc2016/stfc_2016.xlsx

[7]  Colby, Sandra L. and Jennifer M. Ortman, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014-2060, United State Census Bureau, 2015 https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

[8]  Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecast of the State Population, November 2016 Forecast 2017 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/stfc/stfc2016/stfc_2016.pdf

[9] Colby, Sandra L. and Jennifer M. Ortman, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014-2060, United State Census Bureau, 2015 https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

[10]  Fox, J. Washington State Population Trends and Implications for Outdoor Recreation 2014 http://www.rco.wa.gov/documents/ORTF/WashingtonPopulationTrends.pdf

[11] Washington State Office of Financial Management, Projections of the State Population by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin 2010-2040 http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/asr/projections/ofm_pop_age_sex_race_projections_2010_to_2040.xlsx

[12]  Colby, Sandra L. and Jennifer M. Ortman, Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014-2060, United State Census Bureau, 2015  https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p25-1143.pdf

[13] United State Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF

[14] United State Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml#

[15] Hardcastle, A.  Measures and Metrics for a WWRP Program Match Reduction or Waiver Policy for Underserved Populations and Communities in Need, Washington State University, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, 2016 http://www.rco.wa.gov/documents/rco/WWRP_MatchWaiverReport.pdf

[16] Washington State Public Lands Inventory Map http://publiclandsinventory.wa.gov/#Map

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