The Ugly Downside to All That Beautiful Development in Dallas

What if Dallas had a chance to significantly cut down on the thousands of children suffering from asthma, a debilitating disease which costs millions to treat?How about a 60-percent cut in tax dollars needed to resurface our streets? And what if there was a way to drop the Texas heat in the dead of summer by 15 degrees?We'd go for that in a heartbeat. A recently released study commissioned by the nonprofit Texas Trees Foundation suggests that's entirely possible in this city. The solution: trees and more trees.The 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest in southeastern Dallas is a start. It's not enough.Mountains of research show trees are critical to cool temperatures and the surface of roads. They significantly improve air quality and reduce flood risks. Dallas-Fort Worth is consistently in or near the top 10 of the most ozone-polluted metro areas in the U.S. But in one of the largest detailed studies done on an urban area, we now have data on just how far Dallas has to go to improve. The city can make a significant dent in what ails us through preservation and planting 250,000 more trees.Dr. Brian Stone from the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at 4,000 points throughout the city to assess the effects of heat on public health. Rooftops and roads have made Dallas an "urban heat island," making it hotter than surrounding areas. More than a third of the city's impervious surfaces are covered with buildings, roads and parking lots.Reminder: This was one of the big problems in Houston, where runoff from development made Hurricane Harvey flooding worse. It's also the reason advocates are so worried about a bill Gov. Greg Abbott signed preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land. We've already had our share of painful mowdowns.   Continue reading...

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