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Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Funds support Ausable River

Staff technical help, grants support work by local landowners to improve habitat for diverse species in Ausable River

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s habitat stewardship funding supports landowner projects, school programs, and monitoring to protect local watershed with diverse aquatic species

Landowners along the Ausable River have a chance to receive on-the-ground technical and grant support with new funding for habitat stewardship projects.

Canada’s environment department, Environment and Climate Change Canada, is providing $76,050 per year for three years, for a total of $228,150, to support landowner stewardship, local education, and monitoring of aquatic species. The grants help with tree planting, wetlands, fencing cattle out of creeks, and cover crop planting in the Ausable River drainage area from Exeter all the way to Port Franks. This Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) funding supports work to improve habitat in a local watershed that has “one of the most diverse populations of aquatic species of any watershed of this size in Canada,” according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff. 

The Ausable River is located on the northern edge of the Carolinian Zone in southwestern Ontario. It is home to at least 85 species of fish; 26 species of mussels; and 21 reptile species. “The Ausable River and the species that live there are very important,” said Kate Monk, Manager of Stewardship, Land and Education at Ausable Bayfield Conservation. “Each one of these species plays a role in the health of our local river system. Improving local habitat can help to preserve the diverse aquatic fauna that we have here.”

The habitat stewardship funding program reduces loss of nutrients and sediment by:

  • Improving habitat through on-the-ground stewardship projects;
  • Providing community outreach and education for Ausable River residents and students; and
  • Monitoring mussel populations and habitat for species-at-risk (SAR) fish evaluate recovery efforts and direct future stewardship.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) is the recipient of the HSP funding. ABCA provides grant support for about 20 projects each year with the HSP funding. The funding is from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019. “Our staff members are pleased to be able to visit the project site and offer direct personal service to landowners with our boots on the ground,” said Monk. “We help to make it easy for local residents to complete a project and we also look for funding from other sources beyond the HSP grants. In many cases it is possible to cover up to 100 per cent of a landowner’s cash costs for a project.”

The HSP funding support makes it possible for Ausable Bayfield Conservation educators to offer busing and instruction for 10 school classrooms. Students learn about local aquatic species at risk in these classes. The classes take place at schools or conservation areas.

Habitat stewardship grants help landowners do projects such as planting trees and shrubs along watercourses, planting cover crops, fencing livestock out of watercourses, and establishing wetlands. 

Staff members at ABCA encourage people who are interested in doing stewardship projects or hosting a school program to phone toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or email info@abca.on.ca to find out more.