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Butte County, California
County of Butte
Butte County in 2005, with a view of the Sutter Buttes in the background
Butte County in 2005, with a view of the Sutter Buttes in the background
Official seal of Butte County, California
Official logo of Butte County, California
"The Land of Natural Wealth and Beauty"
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Incorporated February 18, 1850
Named for The nearby Sutter Buttes
County seat Oroville
Largest city Chico (population and area)
 • Total 1,677 sq mi (4,340 km2)
 • Land 1,636 sq mi (4,240 km2)
 • Water 41 sq mi (110 km2)
Highest elevation
7,124 ft (2,171 m)
 • Total 211,632
 • Density 126.20/sq mi (48.725/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area code 530
FIPS code 06-007
GNIS feature ID 1675842

Butte County is a county in northern California. In the 2020 census, the population was 211,632. The county seat is Oroville.

Butte County comprises the Chico, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is in the California Central Valley, north of the state capital of Sacramento. Butte County is known as the "Land of Natural Wealth and Beauty."

Butte County is drained by the Feather River and the Sacramento River. Butte Creek and Big Chico Creek are additional perennial streams, both tributary to the Sacramento. The county is home to California State University, Chico and Butte College.

There are four major hospitals and the State of California defines Butte County as being inside Health Service Area 1. A special district, the Butte County Air Quality Management District, regulates airborne pollutant emissions in the county. It does this following regional regulations, state, and federal laws. For example, in recent years, the agency changed rules that once allowed residents to burn household trash outdoors.


South Table Mountain Butte County
South Table Mountain Near Oroville

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,677 square miles (4,340 km2), of which 1,636 square miles (4,240 km2) is land and 41 square miles (110 km2) (2.4%) is water.

The county is drained by the Feather River and Butte Creek. Part of the county's western border is formed by the Sacramento River. The county lies along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, the steep slopes making it prime territory for the siting of hydroelectric power plants. About a half dozen of these plants are located in the county, one of which, serves the Oroville Dam which became severely stressed by overflow water in 2017, and which remains a concern today.

National protected areas

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 3,574
1860 12,106 238.7%
1870 11,403 −5.8%
1880 18,721 64.2%
1890 17,939 −4.2%
1900 17,117 −4.6%
1910 27,301 59.5%
1920 30,030 10.0%
1930 34,093 13.5%
1940 42,840 25.7%
1950 64,930 51.6%
1960 82,030 26.3%
1970 101,969 24.3%
1980 143,851 41.1%
1990 182,120 26.6%
2000 203,171 11.6%
2010 220,000 8.3%
2020 211,632 −3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010 2020

2020 census

Butte County, California - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 165,416 139,651 75.19% 65.99%
Black or African American alone (NH) 3,133 3,320 1.42% 1.57%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 3,395 3,050 1.54% 1.44%
Asian alone (NH) 8,921 10,333 4.06% 4.88%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 401 508 0.18% 0.24%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 318 1,184 0.14% 0.56%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 7,300 13,474 3.32% 6.37%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 31,116 40,112 14.14% 18.95%
Total 220,000 211,632 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Places by population, race, and income

2010 Census

The 2010 United States Census reported that Butte County had a population of 220,000. The racial makeup of Butte County was 180,096 (81.9%) White, 3,415 (1.6%) African American, 4,395 (2.0%) Native American, 9,057 (4.1%) Asian, 452 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 12,141 (5.5%) from other races, and 10,444 (4.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 31,116 persons (14.1%).


As of the census of 2000, there were 203,171 people, 79,566 households, and 49,410 families residing in the county. The population density was 124 people per square mile (48/km2). There were 85,523 housing units at an average density of 52 per square mile (20/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 84.5% White, 10.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino, 3.3% Asian, 1.9% Native American, 1.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.8% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. 87.9% spoke English, 7.8% Spanish and 1.4% Hmong as their first language.

There were 79,566 households, out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.0% under the age of 18, 13.6% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,924, and the median income for a family was $41,010. Males had a median income of $34,137 versus $25,393 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,517. About 12.2% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.8% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.


Bidwell Park Chico
Butte County is home to Bidwell Park in Chico, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.

Major highways

  • State Route 32
  • State Route 70
  • State Route 99
  • State Route 149
  • State Route 162
  • State Route 191

Public transportation

Butte Regional Transit or the B-Line, provides service in and between Chico, Oroville, Paradise, Gridley and Biggs. Chico is also a connection point for Glenn Ride buses to Glenn County and Plumas Transit Systems buses to Plumas County.

Greyhound buses stop in Chico.

Amtrak's Coast Starlight (Los Angeles-Seattle) passenger train makes a stop daily in each direction in Chico's Chico station.


General Aviation airports in Butte County include:

  • Chico Municipal Airport
  • Oroville Municipal Airport
  • Paradise Airport
  • Ranchaero Airport
  • Richvale Airport


Bidwell Mansion 2006 11 IMGP0863
A photo of Bidwell Mansion in Chico.
Chico State's Kendall Hall
Kendall Hall, the administration building at Chico State University in Chico


Census-designated places

Ghost towns

  • Hamilton – Was Butte County's first permanent county seat. John Bidwell discovered gold at Hamilton in 1848, and the settlement arose. It was located on the west side of the Feather River, 15 miles (24 km) downstream from Oroville.
  • Bidwell's Bar – now located under Lake Oroville
  • Forks of Butte

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Butte County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Chico City 86,187
2 Paradise Town 26,218
3 Oroville City 15,546
4 Magalia CDP 11,310
5 Oroville East CDP 8,280
6 Thermalito CDP 6,646
7 Gridley City 6,584
8 South Oroville CDP 5,742
9 Durham CDP 5,518
10 Palermo CDP 5,382
11 Kelly Ridge CDP 2,544
12 Biggs City 1,707
13 Berry Creek CDP 1,424
14 Forest Ranch CDP 1,184
15 Butte Creek Canyon CDP 1,086
16 Butte Valley CDP 899
17 Cohasset CDP 847
18 Concow CDP 710
19 Bangor CDP 646
20 Honcut CDP 370
21 Yankee Hill CDP 333
t-22 Forbestown CDP 320
t-22 Nord CDP 320
23 Stirling City CDP 295
24 Richvale CDP 244
25 Rackerby CDP 204
26 Berry Creek Rancheria AIAN 152
27 Clipper Mills CDP 142
28 Robinson Mill CDP 80
29 Cherokee CDP 69
30 Butte Meadows CDP 40
31 Enterprise Rancheria AIAN 1

In popular culture

Several movies have been filmed in Butte County, including Gone with the Wind, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Friendly Persuasion, Magic Town, The Klansman, Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Under Wraps. The most recent season of the television series Sons of Anarchy features an episode in which the Sons come into contact with corrupt police in the town of Eden, located in Butte County.


Public schools

There are roughly 90 public schools in the county according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. The schools are operated by the County Office of Education and 15 school districts, which are:

  • Bangor Union Elementary School District
  • Biggs Unified School District
  • Chico Unified School District
  • Durham Unified School District
  • Feather Falls Union Elementary School District
  • Golden Feather Union Elementary School District
  • Gridley Unified School District
  • Manzanita Elementary School District
  • Oroville City Elementary School District
  • Oroville Union High School District
  • Palermo Union School District
  • Paradise Unified School District
  • Pioneer Union Elementary School District
  • Thermalito Union School District

Colleges and universities

  • Butte College
  • California State University, Chico

Public libraries

Butte County Library provides library services to residents of the County through six branches in Biggs, Chico, Durham, Gridley, Oroville and Paradise. The mission of the Butte County Library is to provide all individuals, regardless of age, ethnic background, educational or economic level, with free access to ideas, information, and technology.

For many years, the library served rural and mountain communities through regularly scheduled bookmobile visits; however, due to budget cuts, this service was discontinued in 2009 and the bookmobile was sold. The library serves low-literacy adults through several programs of the Butte County Library Literacy Services division, including the Adult Reading Program, Families for Literacy and the Literacy Coach, a 36-foot (11 m) vehicle that provides mobile programming like story times, parent meetings, workshops, and computer and teacher trainings.

The library operates as a department of the County of Butte, governed by the Butte County Board of Supervisors.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Butte (California) para niños

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