- Final report for GEO 553.
- Planners face innumerable challenges as they look to the future of their communities. At the most basic level planners must attempt to understand the needs, values, and opinions of the community. The triple-bottom line of the environment, economy, and social demands must be balanced with sustainability to ensure that decisions made today will meet current needs without compromising future needs. One of the biggest challenges for planners is to try and see into the future and make informed decisions that will affect a changing population composition.
Understanding the multiple population estimates, projections, and forecasts can be a challenging task. To help facilitate understanding, the following basic definitions are provided. A Population Estimate is an educated guess about the population at any point in the present or the past based on non-census, non-survey data. An estimate might be measured from voter rolls. A Population Projection seeks to describe future populations based on present data if a certain set of chosen current trends continue, reverse, or remain the same. A Population Forecast also seeks to describe future populations based on present data but does so based on a prediction of how current trends will change in the future. The forecast differs from the projection in that it is based on an assumption that something will or will not happen. The projection only suggests how population may change if some certain trends remain or change, such as amenity migration, or economic recessions. With a better understanding of the methodology behind estimates, projections, and forecasts and an analysis of how past estimates, projections, and forecasts have fared, planners can make more informed choices when thinking about the future of their communities.
The purpose of this paper is to assist planners in Wallowa County, Oregon to fill gaps in knowledge of demography. As Wallowa County considers updating its Comprehensive Plan, this knowledge will inform planners as to the reliability of currently available projections and forecasts. Part I includes a discussion of current projection methodologies and assumptions, a
brief annotated bibliography of population projections, as well as analyses of past population projections for two similar counties. Part II includes a discussion on seasonal population flux and is an examination of the challenges of measuring and planning for seasonal populations. At the end of this section is seasonal population data and a discussion of basic trends. Part III provides a summary and conclusion. References and Appendices follow.