Restoration of Hydrological Function to the Dowagiac River
Grant: # 1971
Grant Amount: $150,000.00
Board Decision Year: 2021
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (Dowagiac)
Dueweke, Anne ([email protected]) 269-519-0768
2021 Habitat Protection and Restoration - Habitat protection and restoration
PROJECT IN CONTEXT:
The Dowagiac River Restoration Project is part of a larger restoration effort within the St.
Joseph River Watershed, of which the Dowagiac River Watershed (DRW) is a sub-watershed.
With the removal of the Pucker Street Dam in 2021, 7.75 miles south of this project, 159 miles
of the Dowagiac River and its tributaries within the greater St. Joseph River Watershed were
reconnected, allowing for movement of potamodromous fish migrating from Lake Michigan and
other fish above the dam once again. In its current form, the Dowagiac River is a heavily
manipulated system with a straightened planform, homogeneous sandy bottom, and levees
preventing frequent lateral connection with the floodplain. The Pokagon Band Department of
Natural Resources (2019) and Michigan DNR (Wesley and Duffy 2003) assessments have found
that the River has consistently marginal habitat except for a few areas. According to Wesley and
Duffy 2003, “the Dowagiac River has the potential to provide spawning habitat for
potamodromous trout, salmon, and lake sturgeon - provided that meander restoration occurs.”
Further, reducing turbidity and sedimentation within the system is especially important to cool
and coldwater systems because coldwater fishes are particularly susceptible to their impacts
(Kaufmann and Hughes 2006).
GOALS OF THE EFFORT:
To restore historic meanders to the Dowagiac River and provide a more resilient and functional
hydrologic system that can support a healthy fishery through in-stream habitat enhancements and
reconnection to the riverine floodplains.
The first phase of the project was able to restore two historic meander bends to the Dowagiac
River through the movement of over 65,000 cubic yards of soil and the installation of 4,200 face
feet of fabric encapsulated soil lifts with stone toe and live stakes as well as over 450 large wood
pieces within floodplain jacks and cribwalls for stabilization and creation of in-stream habitat.
Following the groundwork restoration in this phase, native vegetation including shrubs, trees,
and seed were planted (Figure 1 and Appendix 1).
PRODUCTS AND RESOURCES:
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Dowagiac River Restoration Progress Page:
This page provides progress on both phases of the Dowagiac River Restoration Project
with pictures being uploaded as project progress continues.
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Dowagiac River Restoration Project Page:
This site provides a background to the Dowagiac River Restoration Project and the
planned outcomes of the project.
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Pokégnêk Yathdanawa Newsletter:
may_lv.pdf This newsletter story discusses progress related to the Dowagiac River
Restoration Project as of the date of publication.
• Leader Publications: https://www.leaderpub.com/2022/06/17/respect-the-rivers-localwaterways-remain-important-to-pokagon-way-of-life/ This site provides a story related to
background ties of the Pokagon Band to the St. Joseph River as well as the restoration
efforts of the Dowagiac River on tribal properties.
International Joint Commission Great Lakes Connection Newsletter:
This site provides a story that discusses the removal of the Pucker Street Dam and the
Dowagiac River Restoration Project within the greater St. Joseph River Watershed.
• WMUK is creating a story on the Dowagiac River Restoration Project. It has not been
• MSU is working on a story related to the Dowagiac River Restoration Project. It has not
been published yet.
• The Dowagiac River Restoration Project progress on phase one had also been
communicated via presentations to Tribal Council, the Two Rivers Coalition, The Great
Lakes Fisheries Trust
• Thus far, on-site visits have been completed by EPA, BIA, NOAA, USDA NRCS, and