Fresno County, California
|County of Fresno|
|Region||San Joaquin Valley|
|Named for||The city of Fresno (Spanish for "ash tree")|
|• Body||Board of Supervisors|
|• Chair||Sal Quintero|
|• Vice Chair||Nathan Magsig|
|• Board of Supervisors|
|• County Administrative Officer||Paul Nerland|
|• Total||6,011 sq mi (15,570 km2)|
|• Land||5,958 sq mi (15,430 km2)|
|• Water||53 sq mi (140 km2)|
|Highest elevation||14,248 ft (4,343 m)|
|• Density||170/sq mi (65/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)|
|GNIS feature ID||277274|
|Congressional districts||5th, 13th, 20th, 21st|
Fresno County (// ⓘ), officially the County of Fresno, is a county located in the central portion of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 1,008,654. The county seat is Fresno, the fifth-most populous city in California.
Fresno County comprises the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area. It is located in the Central Valley, south of Stockton and north of Bakersfield. Since 2010, statewide droughts in California have further strained both Fresno County's and the entire Central Valley's water security.
The area now known as Fresno County was the traditional homeland of Yokuts and Mono peoples, and was later settled by Spaniards during a search for suitable mission sites. In 1846, this area became part of the United States as a result of the Mexican War.
Fresno County was formed in 1856 from parts of Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties. Fresno is Spanish for "ash tree" and it was in recognition of the abundance of the shrubby local ash, Fraxinus dipetala, growing along the San Joaquin River that it received its name. Parts of Fresno County's territory were given to Mono County in 1861 and to Madera County in 1893. The original county seat was along the San Joaquin River in Millerton, but was moved to the rapidly growing town of Fresno on the newly built Southern Pacific Railroad line after a flood destroyed much of the town.
The settling of Fresno County was not without its conflicts, land disputes, and other natural disasters. Floods caused immeasurable damage elsewhere and fires also plagued the settlers of Fresno County. In 1882, the greatest of the early day fires wiped out an entire block of the city of Fresno, and was followed by another devastating blaze in 1883.
At the same time residents brought irrigation, electricity, and extensive agriculture to the area. In 1865, William Helm brought his sheep to Fresno county, which was then a vast space of open land. Helm was the largest individual sheep grower in Fresno County. Moses Church developed the first canals, called "Church Ditches," for irrigation. These canals allowed extensive cultivation of wheat. Francis Eisen, leader of the wine industry in Fresno County, also began the raisin industry in 1875, when he accidentally let some of his grapes dry on the vine. Anthony Easterby and Clovis Cole developed extensive grain and cattle ranches. These and other citizens laid the groundwork for the cultivation of Fresno County – now one of the nation's leading agricultural regions. In more recent times cotton became a major crop in Fresno and the southern San Joaquin Valley, but recent drought and lower demand have lessened cotton's importance to the local economy.
The discovery of oil in the western part of the county, near the town of Coalinga at the foot of the Coast Ranges, brought about an economic boom in the 1900s (decade), even though the field itself was known at least as early as the 1860s. By 1910, Coalinga Oil Field, the largest field in Fresno County, was the most richly productive oil field in California; a dramatic oil gusher in 1909, the biggest in California up until that time, was an event of sufficient excitement to cause the Los Angeles Stock Exchange to close for a day so that its members could come by train to view it. The Coalinga field continues to produce oil, and is currently the eighth-largest field in the state.
More than thirty structures in Fresno County are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Fresno Water Tower, which once held over 250,000 US gallons (950 m3) of water for the city of Fresno, the Meux Home, and Kearney Mansion Museum.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6,011 square miles (15,570 km2), of which 5,958 square miles (15,430 km2) is land and 53 square miles (140 km2) (0.9%) is water.
Major watercourses are the San Joaquin River, Kings River, Delta-Mendota Canal, Big Creek, Friant Kern Canal, Helm Canal and Madera Canal. It is bordered on the west by the Coast Range and on the east by the Sierra Nevada. It is the center of a large agricultural area, known as the most agriculturally rich county in the United States. The county withdrew 3.7 billion US gallons (14,000,000 m3) of fresh water per day in 2000, more than any other county in the United States. In recent years, statewide droughts in California have further strained both Fresno's and the entire Central Valley's water security.
Fresno County is part of the Madera AVA wine region. However, Fresno was named after two particular ash trees that grew near the town of Minkler on the Kings River, one of which is still alive and standing.
National protected areas
- Giant Sequoia National Monument (part)
- Kings Canyon National Park (part)
- Sequoia National Forest (part)
- Sierra National Forest (part)
In October 2019, the Bureau of Land Management ended a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to fossil fuel companies, opening 725,000 acres (1100 sq. miles; 29,000 ha) to drilling in San Benito, Monterey, and Fresno counties.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990–2000 2010 2020
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||304,522||271,889||32.73%||26.96%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||45,005||44,295||4.84%||4.39%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||5,979||6,074||0.64%||0.60%|
|Asian alone (NH)||86,856||109,665||9.33%||10.87%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||1,066||1,233||0.11%||0.12%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||1,744||5,209||0.19%||0.52%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||17,208||29,546||1.85%||2.93%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||468,070||540,743||50.31%||53.61%|
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.
citation needed] The racial makeup of Fresno County was 515,145 (55.4%) White, 49,523 (5.3%) African American, 15,649 (1.7%) Native American, 89,357 (9.6%) Asian (3.3% Hmong, 1.7% Asian Indian, 1.0% Filipino, 0.8% Laotian, 0.6% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.5% Cambodian, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.2% Korean, 0.1% Pakistani, 0.1% Thai), 1,405 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 217,085 (23.3%) from other races, and 42,286 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 468,070 persons (50.3%). 46.0% of Fresno County's population is of Mexican descent; 0.7% of its residents are Salvadoran, and 0.3% of its residents are Puerto Rican.[
|Population reported at 2010 United States Census|
|Old Fig Garden||5,365||4,000||105||54||209||10||733||254||1,532|
|All others not CDPs (combined)||125,378||80,036||3,245||2,517||8,933||124||25,990||4,533||55,856|
As of the census of 2000, there were 799,407 people, 252,940 households, and 186,669 families residing in the county. The population density was 134 people per square mile (52 people/km2). There were 270,767 housing units at an average density of 45 per square mile (17/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 54.3% White, 5.3% Black or African American, 1.6% Native American, 8.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. 44.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In terms of ancestry, the county was 7.5% German, 6.6% Irish, 6.3% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 59.3% spoke English, 31.5% Spanish and 3.1% Hmong as their first language.
There were 252,940 households, out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.59.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 32.1% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $34,725, and the median income for a family was $38,455. Males had a median income of $33,375 versus $26,501 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,495. About 17.6% of families and 22.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.7% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
Fresno County is also known for having the highest rate of chlamydia in the state. In 2006 it had 545.2 cases per 100,000 people, compared with the statewide average of 363.5.
Metropolitan Statistical Area
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Fresno County as the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 56th most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.
The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area, the 49th most populous combined statistical area and the 55th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.
Government and policing
The Government of Fresno County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, law, and the Charter of the County of Fresno. Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of county governments, such as the Government of Fresno County. The County government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.
The County government is composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors, several other elected offices including the Sheriff, District Attorney, Assessor-Recorder, Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector, and Clerk/Registrar of Voters, and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the County Administrator. As of February 2018 the members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors are:
- Brian Pacheco, District 1
- Steve Brandau, District 2
- Sal Quintero, District 3,
- Buddy Mendes, District 4
- Nathan Magsig, District 5
The Fresno County Sheriff provides court protection, jail administration, and coroner services for all of Fresno County and its population of approximately of 994,400 residents. They operate the Fresno County Jail in downtown Fresno. The department provides police patrol and detective services for the unincorporated areas of the county which encompasses approximately 250,000 residents, or 25% of the county's total population. The department also provides law enforcement services by contract with the city of San Joaquin, population 4100.
Municipal police departments in the county are: Fresno, population 500,000; Clovis, 110,000; Sanger, 25,000; Reedley, 24,000; Selma, 23,000; Coalinga, 17,000; Kerman, 14,000; Kingsburg, 12,000; Huron, 7,000; Firebaugh, 8,500; Fowler, 6,500.
Fresno County's voter registration shows a majority of Democratic voters. Presidential elections have been competitive in recent decades. In 2020, Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to win a majority of the vote in Fresno County.
The cities of Clovis, Coalinga, and Kingsburg voted overwhelmingly for Governor Mitt Romney. Reedley did so by much lesser margins and is now a GOP-leaning "swing" city in the county. Huron, Mendota, Orange Cove, Parlier, Fowler, Firebaugh, Fresno, Kerman, Sanger, Selma and San Joaquin voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
According to the California Secretary of State, in October 2012 there were 410,188 registered voters in Fresno County. 158,267 (38.6%) were registered Republican, 164,663 (40.1%) were registered Democratic, 19,841 (4.8%) are registered with other political parties, and 67,417 (16.4%) declined to state a political party. Republicans have a plurality or majority of voter roll registration in the cities of Clovis, Coalinga, Kingsburg, Reedley, and the unincorporated areas. The other cities and towns have Democratic pluralities or majorities.
From Fresno County's incorporation in 1856, it voted Democratic in every election until the 1904 election in California, when President Theodore Roosevelt stood for re-election. Fresno County backed Roosevelt over his Democratic opponent Alton B. Parker. This did not immediately change the county's voting tendencies, however. It supported southern Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the elections of 1912 and 1916.
Fresno County was generally Republican from the onset of the "roaring 1920s" until the Great Depression, when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt forged the New Deal Coalition that benefitted the agrarian county. From 1932 till 1976 the county consistently voted Democratic, barring Richard Nixon's landslide victory over former Senator George McGovern (D-SD) in the 1972 Presidential Election.
With former President Jimmy Carter's defeat by former President Reagan, Fresno became a GOP-leaning swing county: it barely favored Reagan's successor former President George Bush and voted Democratic for Bill Clinton only in his 1992 presidential bid. Republicans won elections in Fresno County by increasing margins from 1996 to 2004, but when the GOP lost ground with Hispanic voters after 2004, the county swung Democratic, voting twice for Barack Obama, and then for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Until the 2020 election, with Joe Biden winning nearly 53% of the vote, the last time the Democratic nominee won with an absolute majority of the vote was the 1964 election.
- California's 5th congressional district, represented by Republican Tom McClintock
- California's 13th congressional district, represented by Republican John Duarte
- California's 20th congressional district, represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy
- California's 21st congressional district, represented by Democrat Jim Costa
- the 8th Senate District, represented by Democrat Angelique Ashby,
- the 12th Senate District, represented by Republican Shannon Grove, and
- the 14th Senate District, represented by Democrat Anna Caballero.
In the California State Assembly, Fresno County is split between the 23rd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Marc Berman, and the 31st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Joaquin Arambula.
Fresno tends to remain socially conservative while being more moderate on economic issues, which can be seen in Fresno's support for socially conservative proposition amendments but occasionally voting for a Democratic Presidential Candidate if economic times are poor such as former President Bill Clinton's victory over incumbent former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and President Barack Obama over Senator John McCain in 2008.
As of 2022, elections for president lean Democratic. Statewide races have historically been competitive. Elections for governor are considered safe for Republicans. This is a somewhat unusual difference in voting patterns for a California county. For example, although Fresno County gave a majority of its votes to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election and has voted for the Democrat running for president ever since 2008, it voted “Yes” in the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election and has voted for the Republican candidate for governor in every election since 1978.
Voter registration statistics
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 1]||496,482||48.5%|
|Peace and Freedom||2,542||0.5%|
|No party preference||107,774||21.7%|
Cities by population and voter registration
|Cities by population and voter registration|
|Democratic||Republican||D–R spread||Other||No party preference|
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||5,491||5.96|
Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno County. 1.88 million acres (0.76 million hectares; 7,600 square kilometres; 2,940 square miles) are under cultivation, almost half the total county area of 3.84 million acres (1.55 million hectares; 15,500 square kilometres; 6,000 square miles). Ag production totaled $7.98 billion in 2017, making it the number one agricultural county in the nation. Over 300 different crops are grown here. Major crops and livestocks include:
- Grapes (see also Grape in California)
- Tomatoes (see also Tomato in California)
- Plums (see also Plum in California)
- Peaches (see also Peach in California)
- Nectarines (see also Nectarine in California)
The grape harvest brought in $1,046,356,645 in 2017. Production is chronically threatened by the presence of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter and the disease it carries, Pierce's Disease. See Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter in California and Pierce's Disease in California.
The peach harvest was worth $264,139,238 in 2017.
Due to its tremendous agricultural success, the county also has a tremendous problem with glyphosate resistance. Okada et al., 2013 finds a high degree of resistance in Marestail (Conyza canadensis).
Companies based in Fresno County
- Gottschalks Department Stores (liquidated in 2010 )
- Sun-Maid Raisins
- Pinnacle Armor, maker of the Dragon Skin Body Armor
- Pelco, maker of surveillance cameras (acquired by Schneider Electric October 2007)
- David Sunflower Seeds, now part of ConAgra Foods
- Flicks Candy Company
- Harris Ranch Beef Company
- Saladino's Inc
- National Raisin Company
- Pacific Ethanol
- United Security Bank
- Central Valley Community Bank
- Electronic Recyclers International
Educational institutions in Fresno County include:
- California State University, Fresno which opened in 1911.
- California Health Sciences University is a private university established in 2012. It currently offers a College of Pharmacy and College of Osteopathic Medicine and is committed to health sciences research and improving the access and delivery of quality health care in the San Joaquin Valley.
- San Joaquin College of Law is a private, nonprofit law school founded in 1969 and located in the City of Clovis.
- Fresno Pacific University is a private university in the City of Fresno.
Within the California Community Colleges System, Fresno County is mostly covered by the State Center Community College District and the West Hills Community College District. The following campuses are in Fresno County:
- Clovis Community College near the City of Clovis
- Fresno City College in the City of Fresno
- Reedley College in the City of Reedley
- West Hills College Coalinga in the City of Coalinga
School districts include:
- Caruthers Unified School District - Covers some areas for PK-12 and some for 9-12 only
- Central Unified School District
- Clovis Unified School District
- Coalinga-Huron Unified School District
- Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District
- Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
- Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District
- Fowler Unified School District
- Fresno Unified School District
- Golden Plains Unified School District
- Kerman Unified School District
- Kings Canyon Joint Unified School District
- Laton Joint Unified School District
- Mendota Unified School District
- Parlier Unified School District
- Riverdale Joint Unified School District - Covers some areas for PK-12 and some for 9-12 only
- Sanger Unified School District
- Selma Unified School District
- Sierra Unified School District - Covers some areas for PK-12 and some for 9-12 only
- Washington Unified School District - Covers some areas for PK-12 and some for 9-12 only
- Kingsburg Joint Union High School District
- Dinuba Unified School District (while it is a unified school district, in this county it only covers areas for grades 9–12)
- Alvina Elementary School District
- Big Creek Elementary School District
- Burrel Union Elementary School District
- Clay Joint Elementary School District
- Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District
- Monroe Elementary School District
- Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School District
- Orange Center Elementary School District
- Pacific Union Elementary School District
- Pine Ridge Elementary School District
- Raisin City Elementary School District
- Washington Colony Elementary School District
- West Park Elementary School District
- Westside Elementary School District
In addition, the Fresno County Public Library operates public libraries throughout the county.
- BNSF Railway
- Union Pacific Railroad
- San Joaquin Valley Railroad
- Biola Branch (Southern Pacific) (abandoned)
- Shaver Lake Railroad (abandoned)
- San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad (abandoned)
- Commercial service
- Fresno Chandler Executive Airport
- Firebaugh Airport
- Mendota Airport
- New Coalinga Municipal Airport
- Reedley Municipal Airport
- Sierra Sky Park Airport
- Fresno Area Express or FAX is the local bus operator in Fresno.
- Clovis Transit Stageline is the bus service in Clovis.
- Reedley Transit a.k.a. Dial-A-Ride services Reedley.
- Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) offers a variety of local and intercity transit services around Fresno County.
- Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages provide intercity, long-distance bus service.
- Amtrak San Joaquins stop in Fresno.
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2010 Census)|
|15||Old Fig Garden||CDP||5,365|
|41||Cold Springs Rancheria||AIAN||184|
|45||Big Sandy Rancheria||AIAN||118|
|46||Table Mountain Rancheria||AIAN||64|
- Fresno County Library
- List of museums in the San Joaquin Valley
- List of school districts in Fresno County, California
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Fresno County, California
- Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
- Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
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