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What is Open Space?

The following information was adapted from "Watershed Resource Papers" developed for the Dowagiac River Watershed Project by Langworthy, Strader, LeBlanc, & Associates, Inc.

Areas that may be thought of as "open space" vary depending on the context and surrounding areas.
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Cultural Open Space
Transitional Open Space
Natural Open Space

Cultural Open Space

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Click here to view full size picture Cultural open spaces are those that are clearly constructed and are generally carefully maintained. These may range from large open spaces around institutional or other large land uses, park and recreation areas, and well-manicured lawns found in suburban housing developments. Agricultural fields may generally also be considered in this description. Cultural open spaces have many functions, such as improving aesthetics, highlighting or calling attention to specific uses, defining driveway and sign locations, and others.

Transitional Open Space

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A transitional open space is one that occurs between cultural uses. For example, a front yard for a home acts as open space between the roadway and the home. This is also an example of how open spaces can serve more than one function. In this case, a transitional open space can provide visual relief and improve safety by removing obstructions from the view of drivers.

Natural Open Space

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Click here to view full size picture Some open spaces are by their mere presence natural. Natural resources within open spaces can encompass many elements including, but not limited to wetlands, areas of dramatic topography, forests, and water bodies. The wealth of natural features contained within open spaces in the Dowagiac River Watershed is a valuable community resource, not only for the role they play in maintaining the area's rural character, but also for tourism and its contribution to the state's economy.

Natural features within open spaces also have positive environmental effects by helping to protect ground and surface waters through the reduction of soil erosion, flooding, and nutrient over-loading in water bodies. Further environmental benefits of these open spaces come in the form of the preservation of wildlife habitat, improved air quality, and noise reduction.

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