Getting to Know the Texas Panhandle 🤠
Last week, we attended the Texas Lyceum’s conference, “Sustainability of Texas Communities,” in Amarillo. As the organization’s official data partner, Texas 2036 helped set the stage with some key facts about the Panhandle. Here’s a peek.
Top of Texas: Slightly larger than the state of West Virginia, the Texas Panhandle covers roughly 25,600 square miles and includes the northernmost 26 counties of the state.
Population Points: About 60% of the area’s population resides in the Amarillo Metro Area, while most communities have a population below 4,000 people.
- The region accounts for 10% of the land in the state, but only represented 1.5% of Texans in 2020, according to the Texas Demographic Center.
The Landscape: From the Great Plains to the Ogallala Aquifer—one of the world’s largest aquifers—the Panhandle is home to major geological features.
- This includes Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyons State Parks.
Sound the Alarm: Nearly all of the Panhandle’s water needs are dependent upon the Ogallala Aquifer, with about 90% of the demand needed for irrigation.
- With increasing drought conditions and high use, the Ogallala Aquifer may see a 70% decrease in water levels by 2080. This is a persistent challenge for the area’s economy.
Money Talks: Agriculture is one of the region’s primary economic drivers along with energy and the defense industry.
- Renewable energy is also on the rise. The Panhandle went from zero wind turbines in 2000 to 2,400 in the region in 2021.
Moving Forward: As the Panhandle looks to attract more people, necessities like improved infrastructure—including broadband—will be key to its success.
Texas 2036 Manager of Policy and Advocacy Hope Osborn presented at the Texas Lyceum’s conference on Sept. 16, 2022 in Amarillo. Thank you to Lyceum President Sarah Jackson and conference co-chairs Kristina Butts, Josh Winegarner and Nathaniel Wright for the opportunity to set the stage at this conference.