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The Natural Amenities Scale

Published: August 28, 2015

the natural amenities scaleThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service evaluated the Natural Amenities Scale for the first time since 1999 and Summit County continues to score in the country’s top 20!  Colorado is constantly changing, but according to the new scale the scenery and climate remain attractive to both visitors and residents around the country!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “the natural amenities scale is a measure of the physical characteristics of a county area that enhance the location as a place to live.”  The scale combines six different climate measurements, topography and water area to reflect the most attractive environments for people to settle down in.  These measures are warm winter, winter sun, temperate summer, low summer humidity, topographic variation and water area.  Only the lower 48 states are included in this measurement.

The Natural Amenities Scale ranks counties on a number system ranging from negative values to positive 7.  Numbers over three are classified as high amenities, with seven being the best score available.  Summit, Lake, Clear Creek, Grand, Park, Hinsdale and San Juan were the only Colorado counties awarded the highest possible score on the scale.  The areas are then organized into a list to form a ranking system for over 3,000 counties!

Researchers have been analyzing the relationship between natural amenities, human migration and other behaviors and have concluded that the higher a county’s score, the more likely that county was to experience higher rates of population growth over the last couple of decades.  Those observations are extremely apparent in Summit County, as natural amenities have been used to attract both visitors and locals from across the country.

For more information regarding the Natural Amenities Scale, please visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website at


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