Looking to the Future: Benefits of Restoration
The Dowagiac River Rehabilitation Team proposed rehabilitation of the functional ecology of the entire Dowagiac River system, recreating some of the characteristics of the original channel, and thereby improving the diversity of fisheries and wildlife habitats. The river would then support a cold water fish community, dominated by self-sustaining trout populations.

Some head water and riparian wetlands would be restored, improving water quality, flow and temperature stability. The agricultural landscape of the watershed would be maintained, and sustainable agricultural production would be a major goal. Best management practices would be encouraged in agricultural lands along the head waters, minimizing sediment, nutrient and chemical inputs to the river.

The river, the corridor, and their attendant wildlife, aesthetic and recreational values would become a primary natural attraction in southwest Michigan. The potential for recreational and community development would be an economic boon to the region. -- Jay Wesley

The "Executive Summary" of the University of Michigan study (Feasibility Assessment for Rehabilitating the Dowagiac River System in Southwestern Michigan) offers the following on potential benefits:

"While Cass County does not have many tourists visiting the county, neighboring Berrien County is ranked third highest in the state for tourist dollars. Cass County can never offer access to Lake Michigan, nor does it have a major highway entering the state from Indiana, but it is reasonable to assume the county's recreational appeal could be increased. Recreational opportunities currently available within the watershed include trout fishing, canoeing, self-pick farms, camping, and golfing. Rehabilitation efforts that improve the quality of the trout fishery, expand and connect greenways, and provide additional recreational amenities and related infrastructure would provide quiet, aesthetically pleasing recreational opportunities.

The Daily high-speed Amtrak rail line that extends from Chicago may considerably impact the watershed in the future as a result of increased exurbanization within the watershed. Not only is it likely that more people will move into the area, but that the composition of the community will change. People from Chicago could commute daily. Additionally, people form Elkhart and South Bend, Indiana are residing in increasing numbers in the southern tier of townships in Cass County. Areas in the southern part of the watershed could become impacted next. These bedroom and weekend residents will express different interests and needs from many local residents who's families have lived in the area for several generations. Without vision and planning, the effect of this influx of new residents could be a loss of the community's rural character.

The discussion of rehabilitation needs to included consideration of future changes in land use, and associated changes in surface water flow regimes. The focus and interest stimulated by the proposed river rehabilitation offers an excellent opportunity to proactively address these development pressures before they become problems."

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