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Water Response Team upgrades Low Water Advisory to Level 2 for Bayfield River; Level 1 Low Water Advisory issued for Ausable River and Parkhill Creek watersheds

July and August rainfall totals across the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) watershed have been well below normal, resulting in dry conditions and stressed flows in local streams and rivers, according to the ABCA. The dry, low-flow conditions have prompted the ABCA Water Response Team (WRT) to upgrade the Low Water status across the entire ABCA watershed.

August stream flows for indicator stations at Springbank, Exeter and Varna, range from 15 per cent (Bayfield River) to 60 per cent (Ausable River) of normal. This is well below the Level 1 indicator of 70 per cent of the lowest average summer monthly flow (August). Flows, as of early September, have yet to show any signs of recovery.

In addition to low streamflow, the WRT also relies on the three-month precipitation indicator for low water advisories. Most of the watershed has fallen below the low-water threshold of 80 per cent of the normal three- month precipitation, which was buffered by more substantial rainfall amounts in June.

Extended dry conditions into the autumn and winter can have a significant impact on aquatic life in local watercourses, and nearby Lake Huron. “Seasonal flows are essential for the life cycles of fish movement both upstream and downstream,” said Davin Heinbuck, ABCA Water Resources Coordinator. “Low flow conditions are a barrier to fish migration and reproductive success, which has direct impacts on the population of fish and other aquatic organisms that support the fishery.”
Water Response Team Chair Doug Cook thanks water users for their continued water conservation efforts to prevent further reduction in water levels and to preserve availability through the remaining days of summer and into the autumn and winter. “We are encouraging water users to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 per cent in those areas under a Level 1 Low Water Advisory condition, and an additional 10 per cent within the Bayfield River watershed,” he said.

If dry conditions persist through autumn it may be necessary for the WRT to consider keeping a Low Water Advisory in effect through the winter in preparation for any potential long-term water shortage.

The Water Response Team was formed in 2001 in response to the low water conditions that year and the team has been active ever since. The WRT includes representatives of major water users (such as aggregate industries, agriculture and vegetable growers, and golf and recreation) and includes local municipal representatives and staff of provincial departments (such as Natural Resources and Forestry; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; and Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks). ABCA staff will continue to monitor rainfall and streamflow data and keep the public informed of any changes in watershed conditions.

Visit for further resources on the Ontario low water response program or ABCA website at for the dynamic low-water advisory tool which alerts people to low-water advisories in effect in the watershed.
Owl Prowl is Saturday, November 2, 2019

Learn about amazing local nocturnal animals at annual Owl Prowl east of Exeter on Saturday, November 2, 2019

Hundreds of people to call for owls; Conservation Halton to bring live owls; Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation is sponsor

It’s a hoot. You learn about owls and even meet them at the “fun, local” Owl Prowl. This annual event is Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Morrison Dam Conservation Area. The address is 71108 Morrison Line, just two kilometres east of Exeter, south of Highway 83.

Owls are incredible creatures of the night. Over the years, hundreds of people have learned about owls and their amazing nocturnal adaptations at the annual Owl Prowl. “People of all ages and abilities are welcome at this event,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation Educator with Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “The guided hike portion will take place on fairly flat trails and cover a distance of less than 500 metres,” she said. “Families can use this event as a chance to get outside and get active.”

Those who attend can meet live owls from Conservation Halton’s Mountsberg Raptor Centre. The live owl presentation is sponsored by Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation. Admission is by donation (suggested donation of $10 per family). Net proceeds from this year’s event will be used to purchase new education equipment to support Ausable Bayfield Conservation’s in-school water safety program. 

The Owl Prowl has three sessions. Families with children under 6 years of age are invited to come for a half-hour stroll starting at 5:30 p.m. The next two sessions are 90 minutes in length starting at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. with a short talk on owls followed by the night looking and listening for owls. 

Each 90-minute session begins with a short talk on owls by conservation educators from Ausable Bayfield Conservation. After the talk, staff sort attendees into two groups. One group stays in the workshop to meet live owls with Conservation Halton staff, or dissect a pellet, or have their picture taken with Otis the Owl (a human-sized costumed owl). The second group ventures on a night hike, with conservation educators, to call in and look for owls that live in the conservation area near Exeter.  After 30 minutes, the groups switch. Attendees who started inside with Conservation Halton then go outside and those that were on the night hike finish up inside. Everyone gets a chance to see and do everything, according to conservation educators.

The Owl Prowl event starts at the conservation area’s workshop behind the main public office of the administration centre building. Space for seating is limited. Organizers ask attendees to dress for the weather and to leave pets at home. Event hosts ask you to please ‘Lug-a-Mug’ to enjoy a warm hot chocolate.

To learn more, visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation website at at this link: You may also contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or email

Watch for more details in the coming days.

Please visit the Owl Prowl web page: Seating is limited. Please dress for the weather. Please leave your pets at home. Admission is by donation.

Take some time to turn off the televisions and computer devices and step out into the fresh air to enjoy nature and listen for owls. This is not some strange ritual. It’s the Owl Prowl.

The Eastern Screech Owl file photo is by Paul Armstrong and we thank him for letting us use it here.

Mark your calendars for the 2019 Owl Prowl!

Nature Day Camps are back on PA Days this summer, autumn

Ausable Bayfield Conservation offers Nature Day Camps at Morrison Dam Conservation Area east of Exeter on Professional Activity (PA) Days

Nature day camp isn’t just a summer activity anymore. Ausable Bayfield Conservation plans to bring back “rain, snow, or shine” nature day camps on three Professional Activity Day (PA Day) for the Avon Maitland District School Board and the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board on Fridays this autumn. “We are excited to once again offer parents and guardians an option for keeping their young people active and engaged on PA Days this fall,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation Educator.

Conservation education staff say campers will “explore and discover the natural world” through educational activities. The camps take place on the following Fridays in 2019: September 13; November 8; and December 6. 

The camps take place at Morrison Dam Conservation Area, east of Exeter, and are for young people ages 7 to 11. The cost for the camps is $35 per day. Parents/guardians save $15 if they register for all three PA Day camps.

The day camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Before and after care is available, at no extra charge, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) 
Space is limited so conservation educators encourage you to register today. Programs are run indoors in the case of severe inclement weather such as heavy rain, thunderstorms, snowstorms, or high winds.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until camp is full and can be dropped off or mailed to Ausable Bayfield Conservation’s Administration Centre Office (71108 Morrison Line), RR 3 Exeter, or you can register online at For registration form and other information please visit this Ausable Bayfield Conservation web page: You may also call Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or email Nina Sampson at
Car show is September 21, 2019.

Family-friendly Bruce Redman Antique Car Show in Arkona is at Rock Glen Conservation Area on Saturday, September 21, 2019

Bruce Redman Antique Car Show offers rare mix of vintage cars, nostalgic music, natural surrounding

Community event by Arkona Lions and Lioness Clubs combines classic cars, nature setting at beautiful Rock Glen Conservation Area

There are many car shows but there aren’t many that take place in the natural surroundings of a park, trails, and a museum. This one does.

People can view classic cars in a beautiful nature setting as the Arkona Lions and Lioness clubs host the Bruce Redman Antique Car Show on Saturday, September 21, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The car show takes place at scenic Rock Glen Conservation Area, 8680 Rock Glen Road, Arkona, Ontario, Canada. The conservation area is home of Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre.

To find out more visit this link: The car show often attracts 150 or more classic cars. “This is a great way to enjoy a Saturday on the last weekend of summer,” said Stan Hladki, of the Arkona Lions Club. “People can get out, enjoy vintage cars, grab a bite to eat, hear classic music, and enjoy everything that Rock Glen Conservation Area has to offer,” he said.

Those who are entering classic cars for show pay only $5 per car and they don’t have to pay the gate fee for the conservation area.

The first 100 cars receive a dash plaque. To enter a car, or for more information, contact Stan at 519-828-3261. 

The first 125 visitors to attend the car show get free entry into the conservation area and don’t have to pay the $4 fee to visit the park.

There is to be food for sale, at the event, by the Arkona Lioness Club. 

People attending the show will be able to view rare and lovingly maintained vintage cars. Visitors will also be able to enjoy majestic Rock Glen Falls waterfall; accessible hiking trails, boardwalks, and look-outs; and rare fossils, artifacts, and minerals at the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre.

The museum attracts visitors from around the world to see its extensive displays of fossils (many donated by Ted Baxter) and artifacts. The conservation area also has two playgrounds. 

To learn more visit


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


8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday
Notices of service disruptions are posted at

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