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Group working to reforest South Bend

NOW: Group working to reforest South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A local group says the lack of trees in some South Bend neighborhoods is blossoming issues like speeding drivers and hotter streets, but the organization thinks they can chop down those problems by reforesting the city.

Reforest South Bend hopes it makes neighborhoods across the city a better place to live.

South Bend resident Joseph Molnar started the organization last fall.

A storm ripped through his neighborhood and destroyed six 80-year-old oak trees planted in the street’s tree lawn.

Soon after, Molnar noticed more people sped down his street and the lack of shade made the street unbearably hot, so less people went outside and the pavement started to crack. He noticed the same issues in other neighborhoods with few street trees.

Molnar decided to take action. He applied for and won a $1,000 grant from the South Bend Awesome Foundation. Last September, Molnar and Reforest South Bend delivered and planted 50 trees in Sunnymeade and the Near Northwest Neighborhood.

“Your property values can go up 15%,” said Molnar. “It slows traffic. It cleans the air for us.”

The group is expanding its efforts this spring in River Park. Over the weekend, Reforest South Bend delivered 50 Red and White Oak saplings to neighbors. Rep. Ryan Dvorak donated the trees.

Molnar hopes the trees make the neighborhoods a safer and cleaner place to live.

“The goal is to reforest South Bend,” said Molnar. “We want to hit all of the, at least all of the inner neighborhoods where walkability is key, where they have sidewalks. Every year trees come down, so if you don’t put them back up, eventually, we’ll have no trees and then our whole city will be a little less pretty, a little less walkable.”

Kasandra Richardson received a tree.

“Before I bought the house, I knew there was a tree in the front yard that they had to take down,” said Richardson. “But, I’ve always thought trees were beautiful. I want one in my yard too, so I just thought it was a really awesome opportunity.”

She believes the initiative will make a positive impact on her neighborhood.

“It’s going to be better for the roads, less potholes and damage like that,” said Richardson. “It’ll help with the canopy which I think is going to help keep the neighborhood temperature down and cooler.”

To donate a tree or request a tree, contact Reforest South Bend here.

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