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Donate now on Giving Tuesday

Help keep our water clean, our soil healthy, and our habitat growing this Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday - a chance to give to nature and to your community.

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping is winding down - and today is a day to consider a gift of a different kind.

We invite you to donate now:

Donate now to local conservation

For GivingTuesday, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) is launching a new gift certificate program to recognize donors helping to protect water, soil, habitat, and living things - and support watershed health, recreation and human health.

Visit the new #GivingTuesday page for Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation: Or, phone Judith and Sharon to donate at our office. Phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.
Buy Green Gifts now

Give gift to nature as alternative


Conservation Dinner tickets or gift certificates for trail donations, snowshoeing experiences among ideas for alternative presents this gift-giving season 

Are you struggling to find gift ideas for that someone special this holiday season? A present doesn’t have to have wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons to be a gift. A local charity asks you to consider some ‘green’ gifts this year.

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) offers a number of ideas ranging from donations in the name of someone towards your favourite nature trail, tree planting to green the watershed, education programs for youth, the South Huron Trail Mobile making nature accessible, or tickets to a fun-filled evening at the Conservation Dinner.

Other ideas include snowshoe rentals or purchasing trees for someone to plant on their property – that’s a “gift that keeps on giving.”

“When you buy a ‘green’ gift, it’s something special and makes a difference in the health of your community,” said Judith Parker, ABCF Secretary. “These alternative gifts include outdoor experiences, benefit the local environment, and support healthy living.

Also, all donations over $20 receive a charitable gift receipt for income tax purposes.”

To find out more about giving a gift to nature, visit the Conservation Foundation online or visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation office at 71108 Morrison Line, Exeter or call 519-235-2610; toll free 1-888-286-2610.

Find out more:
Ontario's Special Advisor on Flooding issues report

Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding releases new report which recognizes role of conservation authorities

Ausable Bayfield Conservation joins Conservation Ontario in support for report’s recognition of the conservation authority role in flood management in Ontario  

The Province of Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding, Doug McNeil, released his report on November 28. Conservation Ontario said, in a news release, they are pleased the report “recognizes the critical role that conservation authorities play in Ontario’s flood management.” Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), one of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities, echoes the Conservation Ontario response.

“Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority is pleased the report recognizes the important role of conservation authorities in flood management in Ontario,” said Geoffrey Cade, ABCA Water and Planning Manager. “We are also pleased the report recognizes the challenges smaller conservation authorities face.” The ABCA looks forward to continuing to work with the Province and other conservation authorities to provide effective flood management in Ontario and to build upon and improve the flood management program, Cade said.

After damaging 2019 floods, and a flood season that stretched into the summer, the Province appointed McNeil as Special Advisor on Flooding to conduct an independent review of flood management in Ontario and provide advice to the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The new report from the Special Advisor on Flooding provides 66 recommendations for flood management in Ontario. The Special Advisor examined Ontario’s flood management framework, exploring the various roles of agencies, such as conservation authorities, which are involved in reducing flood risk. The report also reviewed policies and technical guidance which makes up the policy framework for flood management in Ontario.

Flood management in Ontario is a shared responsibility of the Province, municipalities, emergency management officials, and conservation authorities. Conservation Ontario represents the 36 conservation authorities. Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario, said the report shows that “Mr. McNeil appreciates the collaborative nature of flood management in Ontario.” Conservation Ontario said they were “very pleased” to see that the Special Advisor appreciates Ontario’s “collaborative approach.”

On the other hand, Gavine said adequate funding for programs is needed. “Maintaining and making improvements in Ontario’s flood management programs requires resources that include appropriate policy and program support,” she said. “For example, the 50 per cent reduction to conservation authorities’ provincial transfer payments for the natural hazards program affected all conservation authorities and erodes our ability to effectively address issues raised by the Flood Advisor.”

Conservation authorities reduce flood risk through a watershed management approach. The special advisor’s report recognizes the value of the watershed-based conservation authority model. The new report recommends the Province “consult with the conservation authorities on their application of the natural hazards-based approach and risk-based approach to managing flooding.” Conservation Ontario says it will work with conservation authorities to review the report in more detail and looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Province to reduce the risk of flooding in Ontario. Conservation authorities have worked well with the Province of Ontario, said Gavine, and “we look forward to continuing to develop improvements,” to the flood management program, in partnership with the Province.

“The mandate of conservation authorities is the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources,” Gavine said. “Using a watershed-based approach has effectively protected Ontarians for years and helped to avoid many more millions of dollars in damages and business disruptions,” she said. “It also helps to build resiliency in local watersheds helping our communities to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change.”

In addition to operating $3.8 billion worth of flood control infrastructure, conservation authorities also bring added protection and benefits through various watershed management programs and activities such as: 

•           Watershed-scale monitoring, data collection/management and modelling, 
•           Watershed-scale studies, plans, assessments and/or strategies, 
•           Watershed-wide actions including stewardship, communication, and education and outreach activities. 

Conservation authorities are recommending to the Province that these kinds of foundational watershed management activities be captured in the Conservation Authorities Act regulations which are being developed. 

Find out more:
Community groups organizing tenth Family Day WinterFest South Huron

Community partners meet to plan tenth WinterFest

The tenth Family Day WinterFest South Huron takes place on Holiday Monday, February 17, 2020.

Attending the organizational meeting for WinterFest 2020, on Wednesday, November 27, 2019, were (from left to right): Lynn Snell, Exeter Lioness Club; Lorelee Schneider, Exeter Lioness Club; Jeff Musser, Exeter Firefighters’ Association, Co-Chair; Dave Frayne, Friends of the South Huron Trail, Co-Chair; Laurie Clapp, Municipality of South Huron; Suzie McComb, Cultural Collective, and Friends of the South Huron Trail; and Doug Westlake, Douger’s Music Machine Disc Jockey.

Groups add new events, bring back old favourites for 2020 Family Day WinterFest South Huron on February 17, 2020

Representatives of more than a dozen community groups met in November to plan the tenth year of a popular local one-day winter festival. The community partners are holding some new events and bringing back some old favourites for Family Day WinterFest South Huron. The single-day winter carnival, in Exeter and area, is on Holiday Monday, February 17, 2020.

The organizational meeting took place on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.

The Cultural Collective is hosting two new events for WinterFest 2020. The new events are at the Cultural Collective Studio and Lounge, 355 Main Street South, Exeter. One event is Painting – Parent and Child Package by Tina Gregotski, Owner of Miniature Masterpieces, Clinton, from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (More details are to be posted in the coming weeks). The collective’s other new addition is a free Family Board Game event (1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.) with light refreshments provided.

This year, 2923 RCACC Royal Canadian Army Cadets, Exeter will provide soup and a bun, by donation, at Royal Canadian Legion, RE Pooley Branch 167, Exeter, 316 William St., Upstairs Hall.

The new events are in addition to popular favourites such as Exeter Lions Club’s Family Day Breakfast. Community groups are also planning to bring back fireworks (weather permitting); Learn from a Pro darts, and billiards, at Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 167; face painting; free indoor skating for families; a Classic Snowmobile Show; free family snowshoeing; a movie; music; and more.

Weather permitting, outdoor skating is back in 2020. Organizers are hoping to bring back popular horse-drawn wagon rides (sleigh rides if there is enough snow) but more sponsors are needed for this event and some of the other planned events.

If you would like to hold an event or help to sponsor one, please speak with WinterFest Co-Chairs Jeff Musser or Dave Frayne. To learn more visit A schedule of events, and sponsor list, are being updated regularly on that website. 

Thousands of people have attended Family Day WinterFest South Huron since the first multi-partner, family-friendly event was held in 2011. The events have built upon the popular annual tradition of the Exeter Lions Club Family Day Breakfast, first held in 2010.

Find out more:

Office closes at noon on Christmas Eve; reopens January 2, 2020
Office closes at noon on Christmas Eve; reopens on January 2

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) office closes at noon on Tuesday, December 24, 2019 (Christmas Eve) and the office reopens on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

We wish you and your loved ones all the best of the season and a Happy New Year.

For this, and other, Notice of Service Disruptions, visit:

Five ways to limit soil compaction this World Soil Day

World Soil Day 2019 is on Thursday, December 5. Soil compaction is an issue of local focus this year, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA).

There have been many wet fields in this part of Ontario in autumn 2018, spring 2019, and autumn 2019. Wet weather has made it difficult to harvest. That has led to damage to soil in many places, according to Ross Wilson, PAg, CCA-ON, Water and Soils Resource Coordinator with ABCA. The Certified Crop Advisor offers five management options agricultural producers could consider to limit soil compaction risk:

1.    Minimize traffic and trips on the field, especially when wet.
2.    Keep traffic on the same path, especially with a grain buggy.
3.    Maintain desirable tire pressure to spread the load.
4.    Use deep-rooted crops including corn alfalfa and some cover crops to repair compaction damage.
5.    Frost action can alleviate some compaction under certain conditions.

The soil compaction problem is noted in Ontario’s Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy.

When soils are too wet, tillage passes (from ploughs, cultivators, and other equipment) can create subsurface compaction. Today’s larger, heavier equipment can add to compaction. “Shallow compaction may be reduced by using lower tire inflation, or using tracks rather than tires, which reduce the downward force on the soil,” according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “Deep compaction can … be reduced by reducing the axle weight of machinery.”

Tillage passes can reduce water percolation and root development. Compacted soil impairs crop production and soil health by “reducing the air available for respiration, decreasing the amount of water that can reach plant roots, increasing the risk of surface runoff, reducing root penetration and degrading soil structure,” according to OMAFRA. The Ministry suggests farmers may reduce severe compaction risk by keeping machines out of wet fields when possible. Driving equipment on permanent tracks on the field may limit compaction to these areas.

Bouncing back from bad harvest conditions requires a number of long-term ways to “build a stronger more flexible soil,” according to OMAFRA. “A varied or complex crop rotation with wheat, the addition of manure or other organic materials, use of cover crops and of course reducing tillage and overall traffic will help to build a more stable soil structure,” according to the web page content written by Anne Verhallen, OMAFRA Horticulture Soil Management Specialist. “Improving drainage can help to improve overall soil structure over time,” the web page says. “Consider equipment weight and tire pressure to reduce ground pressure and the potential for deep and lasting compaction.”

The following are some short-term and long-term management options, from OMAFRA, to consider:
  • Keep equipment weight and loads as low as practical.
  • Limit traffic with heavy equipment to laneways or harvest rows rather than tracking the entire field.
  • Avoid high axle loading which will cause compaction in the subsoil.
  • Reduce tire pressure to lessen force on soil’s surface. (This is only effective with radial tires that are large enough to carry equipment at reduced pressures. Check with manufacturer to confirm tires are rated to operate at low pressures.)
  • Use radials, large tires or tracks that create a long, narrow footprint to restrict compaction.
  • If you till, till when soil has proper moisture conditions. Avoid tillage pans by alternating tillage depth.
  • Avoid working in wet fields, particularly with heavy equipment, whenever possible.
  • Loosen compacted soils and improve soil structure with fibrous rooted crops such as wheat and deep-rooted crops such as alfalfa.

World Soil Day helps to raise global awareness of the importance of soil. The day focuses attention “on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources,” according to the FAO web page. The United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as the official World Soil Day starting in 2014.

The international theme for World Soil Day in 2019 is to “stop soil erosion, save our future.”

To learn more about #WorldSoilDay visit this web page: To learn more about soil health, soil compaction, and World Soil Day, visit:
Retiring committee members thanked for years of dedicated service.

Drinking water source protection committee thanks retiring members

Matt Pearson, Chair of the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Committee (SPC), honoured five members, who are retiring from the committee after years of dedicated service, at the November 22 meeting in Holmesville.

From left to right in photo are SPC Chair Matt Pearson and retiring members Gerry Rupke (Ausable Public-at-Large); Kerri Ann O’Rourke (Property Owner and Residents’ Associations); Bruce Godkin, P. Eng. (Industry); Keith Black (Agriculture); and Karen Galbraith (Maitland Valley Public-at-Large).

Committee honours five retiring members at November 22, 2019 meeting in Holmesville

The Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Committee (SPC) honoured five members who are retiring from the committee. Retiring from the SPC are Karen Galbraith (Maitland Valley Public-at-Large); Gerry Rupke (Ausable Bayfield Public-at-Large); Keith Black (Agriculture); Kerri Ann O’Rourke (Property Owner and Residents’ Associations); and Bruce Godkin, P. Eng. (Industry).

Chair Matt Pearson presented the retiring members with thank you gifts (books by Bonnie Sitter) during the November 22 committee meeting at the White Carnation Banquet Hall in Holmesville. He said the SPC fulfills its mandate to protect source water through the guidance it provides to develop policies. “We have been well-represented over the years by a diversified and involved membership and we will miss the participation of the retiring members,” he said. “We thank them for their dedicated service and contributions.”

Three of the five members (Keith Black, Karen Galbraith, and Gerry Rupke) have served on the committee since it was formed in 2007. The committee has worked to create assessment reports and source protection plans that have been in effect in the region since April of 2015. The plan policies reduce risk to municipal drinking water systems from 22 activities that could contaminate the source of water. They achieve this through education, risk management plans, and restrictions on some land uses in some vulnerable areas. The source protection work was required by the Ontario Clean Water Act, 2006, with funding support from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

With the evolution of the source protection program, the local Source Protection Authority (SPA) recently decided to reduce the SPC from 15 to 12 members to reflect the current work requirements. There was a call for applications, from September 30 to November 4, to replace retiring members and for renewing positions. New and returning members will be appointed/reappointed by January 1, 2020 but the Source Protection Authority is still seeking an industry representative. 

Find out more about the source protection region, plans, and how to protect your drinking water at

Learn more:
Has your school applied for a Watershed Champions Grant?

December 19, 2019 deadline to apply for Watershed Champions Grants for school projects to be done in 2020

Local schools do projects to protect water, soil, living things with help of Watershed Champion grants

Ausable Bayfield Conservation invites local schools help their community and to become Watershed Champions. The local conservation authority offers four grants of up to $500 each. The grants are for local schools to complete projects that: improve surface and groundwater quality, forest cover, and overall watershed health; and may also include a public educational event or activity.

The grant provides funding to help Ausable Bayfield watershed schools do environmental projects to create awareness and take action.

The 2019-2020 school year is the third year of the grant program. An application form and guidelines are available online at You may email completed applications to by December 16, 2019. All schools with funded projects will be notified by the end of January 2020. 

“We know that schools want to improve their student outdoor learning spaces and we are excited to offer Watershed Champions Grants again for local schools through our continued our partnership with NextEra Energy Canada,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation Educator with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA). “We are have been impressed with the projects that have been completed by schools and we are looking forward to reviewing applications which help to improve soil, water and living things in our watershed.”

Past Watershed Champions include: Precious Blood Catholic School, Exeter; Stephen Central Public School, Crediton; East Williams Memorial Public School, Ailsa Craig; and Wilberforce Public School, Lucan. 

Watershed Champions Grant projects provide solutions to environmental challenges (such as water quality; forest conditions; soil health; and habitat for species; etc.) with measurable and manageable actions. The projects need to be completed by June 2020. 
Schools can apply for one of two categories: 1) Creating Awareness; and 2) Taking Action.

The Taking Action category is a hands-on positive action for a project which monitors, implements, or researches water, soil, and living things: such as clean water diversion including rain gardens; controlling erosion; enhancing wildlife habitat; grassland restoration and enhancement; improving streams; planting native trees and shrubs; wetland restoration and enhancement; creating a living snow fence; cleanups; and collecting and reporting on environmental features including performing a tree inventory.

The Creating Awareness category recognizes an educational project which promotes and encourages positive action – such as being a community ambassador for actions that protect water, soil, and living things; promoting responsible practices such as water conservation or proper disposal of harmful chemicals and household hazardous waste; raising awareness through the Yellow Fish Road™ program; creating education and/or recreational opportunities; developing a school carbon offset program or a school Conservation Strategy; or sponsoring a guest speaker.

The Watershed Champion Grant is possible thanks to funding support by NextEra Energy Canada, LP.

These Ausable Bayfield watershed schools are eligible to take part in the contest: Huron Centennial; Seaforth; St. Columban; St. James; St. Patrick’s (Dublin); Bluewater Coast; St. Boniface; Wilberforce; Grand Bend; Our Lady of Mount Carmel; Central Huron Secondary School; Clinton; Huron Christian; St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School; St. Joseph’s (Clinton); Adelaide W.G MacDonald; Bosanquet Central; East Williams; Exeter Elementary; Precious Blood; South Huron District High School; McGillivray Central; North Middlesex District Secondary School; Parkhill West Williams; Sacred Heart; and Stephen Central.

For application form and to find out more visit this link:


71108 Morrison Line,
RR 3 Exeter, ON
N0M 1S5


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