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Bring on the trees: New grant could curb effects of heat islands in Colorado Springs

Posted at 11:41 PM, Sep 17, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The United States Department of Agriculture announced Friday that the Colorado Springs Forestry Department will be receiving $9 million in grant money from the Inflation Reduction Act to plant and maintain trees across Colorado Springs.

According to the Colorado Springs Forestry Department, the money will go toward maintaining and improving 12,000 trees and planting about 600 new trees on the Southeast side of the city.

Heat island new trees
The City of Colorado Springs has been awarded a $9 million dollar grant to curb the effects of heat islands in southeast Colorado Springs.

As we have previously reported this area was identified as a disadvantaged neighborhood and suffers from the urban heat island effect where temperatures are artificially higher due to a lack of green space.

WATCH: WAYS TO ADDRESS URBAN HEAT ISLANDS

Ways to address urban heat Islands

Over the last few years, city council and city leaders have looked at addressing the impacts which include a grim statistic: people in Southeast Colorado Springs have a lower life expectancy of 16 years according to the El Paso County Health Department based on Census Tract Data gathered from a 2011-2015 study.

The forestry department plans on planting a number of different trees in an area that has been difficult to keep green in the past and hopes the new additions will curb the effects of heat exposure and heat-related death in the long run.

FSG Weather Fatalities.jpeg
Data provided by National Weather Service shows the number one cause of weather related deaths: heat

In 2022, according to data from the National Weather Service heat was the number one weather-related death factor.

"It's very dry, and the soils are not perfect for growing trees. If that was true they would already be there to begin with. So that's why we're going to go in there and do planting projects."

The grant from the USDA gives the local forestry department the money to hire two additional foresters to help with the planting project. It also provides money to hire contractors to help with maintaining the trees that will be planted in the area.

News5 will continue to follow up with the Colorado Springs Forestry Department on where they plan to put these trees and the progress of creating these urban forests.
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