COLORADO SPRINGS — The weather is cooling down in Colorado, but as each summer gets hotter throughout the country, some groups are trying to address inequities when it comes to the high temperatures in the area.
In some areas of Colorado Springs, the heat hits harder. Neighborhoods in downtown and southeast Colorado Springs are known as "urban heat islands" where large areas of pavement and a lack of trees can lead to hotter temperatures than other areas.
"It's definitely a problem that affects an entire city, but it doesn't affect everyone equally in the city," Corina McKendry, a professor of political science and environmental studies at Colorado College said, "it becomes an issue of environmental justice as well as just discomfort and a lack of equity between our different communities."
McKendry has studied city greening and environmentalism for about 15 years, a couple of years ago she was a part of a project studying heat impacts in Colorado Springs. '
"The leading cause of weather-related death is heat," McKendry said.
It's something community members and business owners like Tony Bell want to try and alleviate.
"The more trees we can get in the southeast, the better," Bell, who co-owns The Community Tree Service in southeast Colorado Springs said.
The business has a goal for every tree cut down for their business, to plant a new one in southeast Colorado Springs.
Bell spends his days with his fellow employees outside, landscaping homes throughout the area. "It gives you a good feeling knowing you went in and you helped somebody, and you saved a tree," Bell said.
Bell started the business in March of 2020, as someone who was formerly incarcerated, his hope is to constantly give back to others to try and make a difference.
"When I got that bus from DOC [Department of Corrections], my destiny was in my own hands," Bell said, he credits his drive for running the business to Juaquin Mobley, the vice President of Community Works, an organization dedicated to helping justice system involved people.
Bell said giving people in the southeast more trees, it's something that will help neighbors in the long run.
Studies conducted by the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County show residents in the southeast face additional obstacles with heat and its urban heat island.
A recent study conducted by the city and CU Denver shows 3.5 acres of Academy boulevard includes 120 acres of parking lots and a lack of greenery.
The life expectancy in southeast Colorado Springs is 16 years shorter compared to other parts of Colorado Springs. It's statistics like this, concerning people behind with The Community Tree Service.