Local census effort coming together for Aspen to Parachute push

FILE - In this April 23, 2019 file photo, immigration activists rally outside the Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments over the Trump administration's plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, in Washington. The Department of Homeland Security is agreeing to share citizenship information with the U.S. Census Bureau. The agreement was made in response to President Donald Trump's order to collect data on who is a citizen through administrative records following the Supreme Court's rejection of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A lack of federal funding to gather local U.S. Census data has led to a Roaring Fork Valley-based partnership to ensure every person from Aspen to Parachute is counted.

“The national funding is much more limited than in 2010,” Kara Silbernagel, Pitkin County’s policy and project manager, told county commissioners Tuesday.

As a result, governments up and down the valley have contributed funds toward the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee, which will attempt to get the word out through advertising, community centers, schools and good old-fashioned knocking on doors, Silbernagel said.

The census effort is important because it is used to dole out money for roads, education, health services and other community development projects, she said. Each person counted equals about $2,300 in local funding.

New census data also could lead to redistricting and another seat for Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives, Silbernagel said.

“Whatever we gain, another state loses,” she said. “That’s why California is spending millions to count (its population). It’s why it’s important we count (correctly) here in Colorado.”

This year marks the first time the census will be available online, and the federal government aims to invite 95% of households nationally to fill out the census using that method, Silbernagel said. However, in Colorado that number will be nowhere near 95%, she said.

That’s because census forms cannot be delivered to post office boxes. That means many areas — including Snowmass Village — will have people knocking on doors and delivering information about the census, she said.

“It’s not just Snowmass Village,” Commissioner George Newman said. “I’ve got a P.O. box in Basalt.”

The Aspen-to-Parachute project, which will be headed by the Aspen Community Foundation, will seek to get the word out, especially to schoolchildren, seniors, seasonal workers and the Latino community, Silbernagel said. Only a very small portion of Colorado is scheduled to receive bilingual census information.

The group wants to assure people that the census is safe and 100% confidential, with questions only including name, age, sex, date of birth, race of each person in the household, relation to the central person in the household, phone number and whether the home is rented or owned, she said.

The census will not ask for social security numbers, other personal identifiers or citizenship information. The U.S. Constitution makes it illegal to share the information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security or welfare authorities, she said.

Official census takers who knock on doors will not be in uniform but will carry official badges, Silbernagel said. Residents can ask to see the badges, she said.

The official kickoff to the census is April 1, though online census surveys will be available starting March 12, Silbernagel said. All residents of the United States must participate in the census.

Go to for more information about the local effort and for the national website.