Protecting water, soil, and living things happens when people, communities, and agencies work together to create awareness and take positive action. This newsletter is to let you know about ways this local action is taking place in Ausable Bayfield watersheds. For more information visit

Visit for flood messages.Flood Messages

Flood messages posted to Ausable Bayfield Conservation website.

Click now for most current flood message: Flood Message.
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) issues four levels of messages:

  • Normal: No flood conditions currently exist
  • Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook / Water Safety (Previously High Water Safety Bulletin): General watershed conditions are being assessed for high runoff potential that could lead to flooding, and to remind the public of general river safety issues.
  • Flood Watch (Previously Flood Advisory): Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations.

A Watershed Conditions Statement Flood Outlook/Water Safety message was issued June 9, 2015 by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. Click on the flood messages link on the home page for current status of flood messages.

First trees planted to capture greenhouse gases through Carbon Footprints to Forests program

Contributions by local people, groups help to compensate for personal carbon footprint; Conservation authorities plant trees through program supported by County of Huron: Donations made to the Footprints to Forests program in 2014 were used by the Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley conservation authorities to plant more than 500 trees last month. These trees are expected to capture more than 176 tonnes of greenhouse gases. In the Ausable Bayfield watershed the trees were planted at the 40-hectare Triebner Tract between Dashwood and Exeter. It is part of the provincially significant Hay Swamp Wetlands Complex. Maitland Valley trees were planted at Lake Wawanosh Conservation Area, located west of Wingham.
For more information visit or this link: First trees planted.

Turtle nesting season has begun in area

Local specialists urge people to watch for turtles crossing roads, help them to safety when it is safe to do so; Community’s help can support long-term survival of turtles, local authorities say; Freshwater turtles cross roads at this time of year as they search for places to nest:  Many freshwater turtles die each spring when they cross the road and are hit by cars. Local people can help to protect these species. “You can help when you watch for turtles as they cross the road,” said Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “You may also help them across the road, when it is safe to do so.”
Each year, from late May to early July, many of Ontario’s freshwater turtles leave the safety of their wetlands, creeks or rivers. They do this as they make a trek in search of sites that are fit to nest. No area of land in southern Ontario is more than 1.5 kilometres from a road. That means turtles are likely to cross a road when they need to make this nesting journey. Road mortality is one of the biggest threats facing turtles. Another reason is the loss of the habitat turtles need in order to live.
There are eight native turtle species in Ontario. Seven of those species are at risk.
For more information visit these links:

International Year of Soils 2015 celebrated in Ausable Bayfield watersheds

Ausable Bayfield Conservation is working with a number of farm and community groups to host events during 2015 in honour of the International Year of Soils: The 68th United Nations General Assembly has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The year of events is to make people aware how important soil is for a secure food supply and for healthy land and water.
Ausable Bayfield Conservation is also planning events and tours this year in partnership with the Huron and Middlesex Soil and Crop Improvement Associations, the Huron County Water Protection Steering Committee, the Ecological Farmers Association, and local 4-H clubs, throughout the year.
The annual Bannockburn Fall Hike will feature soils information this year as part of the year of events. Conservation educators from ABCA will also design a new curriculum-based soil education program for local schools.
Once soil health is lost, it’s very hard to get it back again. It may not be possible to recover that soil health in one person’s lifetime. Soil forms the basis for the growing of the food we eat.
One way to protect and improve soil health is to plant different cover crops. Cover crops help to nurture the biological activity that takes place in the soil. Cover crops may be planted on bare fields in periods of fallow or between trees or cultivated plants. Cover crops can help maintain the quality and fertility of soil. They can also protect the surface of the land from erosion. Cover crops can halso help manage water, weeds, pests, diseases and more.
For more information visit these links:

Only few spots left for August 17 to 21 W.I.L.D. Nature Camp for young people ages 9 to 12

Overnight at Camp Sylvan is included: There are only a few spots left (at press time) for ‘Wonder, Investigate, Learn, and Discover’ (WILD) summer nature camp.
Youths learn about the world around them by focusing on what is in their own backyard. Much like Ausable Bayfield Conservation’s popular Summer Nature Day Camp, W.I.L.D. Nature Camp is all about combining fun, learning about nature, and the experience of discovering new things in the great outdoors. Each day will have new nature-based adventures, field activities, and active projects led by experienced educators.  In addition, there are two days and one night overnight at Camp Sylvan.
For information visit:

Preview Watershed Tales book of student environmental writing

Students share their concern for watershed and wetlands through book of student writing:
Students from Ausable Bayfield Conservation watersheds submitted student writing to a writing contest held for three years between 2010 and 2013. Thanks go to the young people who took part and thanks to the teachers who supported student writing about protecting water, soil, and living things.
A book has been prepared of the students' winning writing and it can be previewed by visiting the Watershed Tales page at this link:
Watershed Tales Page

Six new members join drinking water source protection committee

New members join Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Committee (SPC) at important time as locally-developed source protection plans are implemented in Ausable Bayfield, Maitland Valley areas: A local committee devoted to protecting municipal drinking water sources will soon have some new faces around the table. There are six members becoming part of the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Committee (SPC). They will join nine members who are continuing on the committee. The new members replace six members who will be stepping down as part of a scheduled rotation of membership.
Two of the new representatives were selected by local municipalities and the other four new representatives come from different interests in the community (industry; commerce; property owner and resident associations; environmental sector). The nine continuing members of the committee represent municipalities (3); agriculture (3); public-at-large (2); and environment (1).
It is positive to have renewal in the membership of the committee while still retaining people with experience, said Laurence Brown, committee chairman.  “We have been pleased to have the expertise of all the previous members of the committee who have completed terms of reference, assessment reports, and source protection plans,” he said. “We wish our retiring committee members well and we look forward to working with a talented group of new members.”
For more information visit this link:

Board of Directors approves Watershed Management Strategy

New Watershed Management Strategy replaces 1995 document: Ausable Bayfield Conservation has developed a new Watershed Management Strategy (2015-2025).
The Watershed Management Strategy has been created as a document to guide staff in how to strategically implement community recommendations in The Path Forward: Your Community Conservation Strategy for Ausable Bayfield Watersheds.
For more information visit these links:

Dedication ceremony June 19 for Mayhew Tract

Dedication ceremony to feature sign unveiling for Mayhew Tract; Memorial donation of land is first for Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy: The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) has announced it will hold a dedication ceremony for the Mayhew Tract, an important forested property in the Holmesville area, that has been donated by the Mayhew Family in memory of Jack and Iris Mayhew. “This generous donation will provide much-needed forest cover, groundwater recharge, and wildlife habitat for generations to come,” said Roger Lewington, Chairman of the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy.
The dedication ceremony and sign unveiling are to take place on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. at the Mayhew Tract. The property is located about two kilometres south of Holmesville, on the northeast corner of Tower Line Road and Parr Line. It is just north of the watershed divide between the Bayfield Forest cover in important nature area is to be preserved permanently thanks to donation by Mayhew family in memory of Jack and Iris Mayhew; River and Maitland River.
For more information visit this link:
Forest cover in important nature area is to be preserved permanently thanks to donation by Mayhew family in memory of Jack and Iris Mayhew.


RBC awarded $3.2 million in funding to protect water in more than 150 communities across the globe; One of the projects receiving funding was wetlands program in Huron, Middlesex counties

RBC staff member helps to plant rain garden east of Exeter; Healthy Headwaters Wetlands Initiative thanks RBC Blue Water Project for $10,000 grant for wetlands projects:  Local staff of RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) helped to plant a rain garden near Exeter on RBC Blue Water Day on Thursday, June 4, 2015. They were some of the bank’s many employees who were taking part in RBC Blue Water Day activities. “We’re proud that our employees around the world are willing to do their part in their communities through Blue Water Day Makeovers,” said Dave McKay, President and CEO, RBC.
One of the local recipients was Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) for the Healthy Headwaters Wetlands Initiative. Healthy Headwaters received $10,000 in funding. Healthy Headwaters is an opportunity for rural and non-rural landowners to preserve, restore, or enhance wetlands. Ausable Bayfield Conservation, Middlesex Stewardship Council (MSC), Huron Stewardship Council (HSC), and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) formed this partnership to provide people with technical advice, including site visits, elevation surveys and project coordination to assist with the completion of wetland restoration projects in flood plain or riparian areas. “We are very pleased with this support for wetlands in Ausable Bayfield watersheds,” said Rachael Scholten, Stewardship Technician with Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “Wetlands are very important for the health of our local water and soil as they provide water storage, act as a natural filter for runoff, recharge our supplies of groundwater, and reduce flooding and erosion by slowing down heavy surface flows.”
For more information visit this news story:

Protecting water through Yellow Fish Road

Program has come to this watershed: You can protect water, soil, and living things through the Yellow Fish Road™ program. If you walk through the streets of Zurich and Bayfield, Ontario, you may notice images of bright yellow fish painted beside storm drains which are found under the street along some roadways.
This spring the 1st Bayfield Guides painted yellow fish all the way down Main Street in Bayfield and the 1st Zurich Beavers painted yellow fish across the north end of the streets in Zurich. In total, there were about 80 drains painted on the streets in Bluewater.
“It is great to see young people get so excited about making a difference for water in their own community,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation Educator with Ausable Bayfield Conservation.
Trout Unlimited Canada launched the Yellow Fish Road™ in 1991. The program has grown across the country. More than 60,000 volunteers have taken part. Volunteers in the program paint yellow fish symbols next to storm drains and give out fish-shaped brochures to homes and businesses. This is to remind us that things that go into the storm drain end up in the water we use for drinking, fishing, and swimming. “If we teach one person to properly dispose of household hazardous waste that can keep pollution out of our creeks, rivers, and Lake Huron,” said Iszczuk.
You are invited to contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation about how you can bring Yellow Fish Road™ to your school, neighbourhood, or community. Phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or email The Yellow Fish Road program is offered from April to October. It is an easy, effective way to engage youth and community members in protecting and improving the water quality of our river, streams, and lake.

Return of wet weather allowed Water Response Team to hold off on any Low Water Advisories

Stay posted to low water advisory page: At the time of this newsletter, with heavy rain posing the problem of too much water, too fast ... it's hard to imagine that lack of water was a concern in recent months and that it may become a problem again when dry seasons hit.
The Ausable Bayfield Water Response Team (WRT) met in Exeter on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 to discuss watershed conditions within the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) watershed. The meeting brought together both water users and water managers to discuss updates to the Ontario Low Water Response Program and review indicator stream flows, precipitation, and groundwater conditions.
The return of wet weather meant the Water Response Team was able to hold off on a low water advisory.
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 visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority website at and view the dynamic low-water advisory tool which alerts people to low-water advisories in effect in the watershed.
Visit these links:

Taking positive actions in vulnerable areas

Are you located in a vulnerable area? If so, how can you help to reduce risks to drinking water? The only areas where activities pose a significant threat to municipal drinking water sources in this region are some zones (A, B, and C) around municipal wells.
However, if are located in a highly vulnerable aquifer, a significant groundwater recharge area, or an intake protection zone, your voluntary actions can help to reduce risk to local drinking water sources.
How do you know if you are located in one of these areas? What can you do to help if you are in one of these areas?
For information visit these links: For more information on drinking water source protection in the Ausable Bayfield or Maitland Valley areas visit:

Huron County Clean Water Project celebrates ten years of water quality projects

Huron County Clean Water Project celebrates ten years of making water-quality improvements in partnership with local landowners; County adds cover crops and composting toilet categories to Huron Clean Water Project in 2015: The Huron County Clean Water Project is celebrating ten years of providing grants to help county residents do more than 1,800 projects to improve water quality. The county has announced two new categories to help even more people get involved in the 2015 program: composting toilets and cover crops.
The county grants have helped residents to plant more than 160 hectares of trees; complete more than 500 tree planting projects; fence cattle out of 40 kilometres of streams; plant more than 100 kilometres of windbreaks; have 75 liquid manure storages decommissioned; complete eight forest management plans; upgrade more than 300 private wells; complete more than 140 erosion control projects; and decommission more than 400 unused wells. The County of Huron provides funds for the Huron Clean Water Project and the Maitland Valley and Ausable Bayfield conservation authorities provide service delivery for residents..
For more information visit Huron County Clean Water Project page.

Friends of South Huron Trail to host annual golf tourney for tenth time

Golf tournament moves to August 31 date; $10,000 hole-in-one prize added this year for special anniversary edition; funds to support pedestrian bridge along trail: The organizers of the Friends of the South Huron Trail Annual Golf Tournament are celebrating an anniversary this year with the tenth installment of the charitable golf tourney in support of the South Huron Trail. The fundraiser is moving to August on this anniversary year and organizers are including a $10,000 hole-in-one prize. This year, funds will go towards the community project to create a new pedestrian bridge on the South Huron Trail.
The Tenth South Huron Trail Golf Tournament takes place on Monday, August 31, 2015 at Ironwood Golf Club. Registration is 8:30 a.m. and shotgun start is 9 a.m. The event is a Texas Scramble format and is followed by lunch. Ironwood Golf club is located at 70969 Morrison Line, two kilometres east of Exeter, just south of Highway 83. For more information visit or this link:

Ted Jones honoured for service

After many decades of service to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation and to conservation authority, Ted Jones retires as a Director on Foundation: Ted Jones, of Exeter, Ontario, is retiring as a Director of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, after decades of service. A boy born James Edward Jones has become known simply as ‘Ted’ to everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him.
Ted grew up on the family farm of his parents, Cecil and Gladys Jones. The mixed farming operation bordered Huron and Middlesex counties along the Ausable River. When not helping out with the farm chores, young Ted would hike along the Ausable and he sometimes took his fishing pole with him. Even then, Ted would look upstream and wonder “Where is that water coming from?” and then look downstream and wonder, “Where is that water going?”
Those early days communing with nature along the river would form the basis of a life dedicated to improving his watershed community.
For more information click on this link:

Healthy Lake Huron: Clean Water, Clean Beaches releases 2015 newsletter to share progress of work protecting Lake Huron

Newsletter available in print, online versions with articles on Lake Huron and community partnership working to protect it; Healthy Lake Huron conducting readership survey this year: Healthy Lake Huron: Clean Water, Clean Beaches has announced the release of the 2015 newsletter highlighting some of the work underway to protect and improve water quality along Lake Huron’s southeast shore. The southeast shore is a largely rural area stretching from Sarnia to Tobermory.
For more information visit these links:

Conservation Dinner nears $1 million mark in proceeds raised in past 26 years

Chairman Paul Anstett calls 26th Conservation Dinner ‘night of firsts’; Gala charitable auction features first culinary feature artist; arranged seating for first time; Exeter Lions Club recognition of 25 years of community partnership on committee; Dinner event nearing total of $1 million raised: The 2015 Conservation Dinner raised more than $60,000 in net proceeds. That was a record amount in the event’s 26-year history.
The gala charitable Conservation Dinner auction event has raised close to $986,000 in net proceeds over its 26-year history and, with your help, this community event can surpass the $1 million raised mark, in its history, for community improvement projects of a conservation nature.
The charitable gala supports accessible trails, conservation areas, and parks; outdoor nature education for children and youth; commemorative woods to remember loved ones and improve forest conditions; recreation through fish stocking and a family-friendly fishing derby for the young and the young at heart; and more.
The 27th Conservation Dinner takes place Thursday, April 14, 2016 at South Huron Recreation Centre in Exeter.
For more information visit these links:

Cordner Farms - Jane Sadler Richards and Doug Richards - named Conservationist of the Year

The winner of the Conservationist of the Year Award was Cordner Farms - Doug Richards and Jane Sadler Richards - of the Ailsa Craig area.
Over the years, their conservation efforts have included:

  • Protecting fragile land (muck soil, steep slopes) by fencing cattle out of watercourses and planting trees.
  • Improving water management by spearheading a request for municipal drain work resulting in a proper outlet, sediment trap and tile repair.
  • Improving water quality by fencing cattle out of watercourses, installing a protected crossing, constructing a proper field tile outlet on a hillside and improving/maintaining two grassed waterways on a municipal drain.
  • Improving water quality by stabilizing the bank and rehabilitating a rock chute within a river bed.
  • Providing wildlife, bird and insect habitat by: establishing seven acres of Tallgrass Prairie; creating/maintaining windbreaks, wildlife corridors, woodlots and meadows.
  • Maintaining a no-hunting and, generally, a catch-and-release fishing policy.
  • Supporting a share-crop agreement that includes minimum and no-till conservation crop production.

For more details on the Conservationist of the Year Award, please visit this page:

Here are some of the things found at Cordner Farms.

  • Bald Eagles, Osprey or Great Horned Owls swooping down along the river.
  • Tallgrass Prairie abuzz with pollinators.
  • Minimum and no-till corn, soybeans, or wheat swaying in the mid-summer breeze.
  • Grassed waterways in good repair.
  • Wildlife corridors with well-tramped deer paths.

In 1988, Doug Richards and Jane Sadler Richards bought 100 acres of agricultural and ‘river-bottom’ land situated on the Little Ausable River near Ailsa Craig in southern Ontario. While raising their family (Laura, Chris, John), Doug and Jane also transformed their land, Cordner Farms, into a well-balanced and vibrant example of nature co-existing with productive agriculture.

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