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Planting more trees in Dayton could have social, health and economic benefits according to new study

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Trees and their shade can improve the aesthetics, air quality and even the perceived safety of a neighborhood. A state-wide cost-benefit analysisfrom Columbus-based public policy firm Scioto Analysis shows that planting more trees can also have a positive economic impact.

Right now, the canopy cover in the City of Dayton is 29%. In 2016, city officials told the Dayton Daily News that the optimal tree coverage for Dayton would be closer to 50%.

According to the cost-benefit analysis done in June, it would cost $28 million for the city of Dayton to plant enough trees to hit that canopy goal.

Even though $28 million is a lot of money to spend on trees, Rob Moore, principal at Scioto Analysis, said it's a good investment for a municipal government.

"If you're a policymaker who's really thinking about the long term, then it looks like from our models that these actually do pay off economically," Moore said.

Moore's study said the net economic return for Dayton on that $28 million tree investment would be $7.4 million dollars.

That return would come from the economic value of prevented stormwater runoff, energy savings, air pollution reduction, crime prevented and carbon dioxide sequestered

Fred Stovall, the public works director at the City of Dayton, said the city has tree planting initiatives in the works. He declined to comment on the specific details.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.