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Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Old Ausable River Channel Watershed Community Action Plan and Implementation

Old Ausable Channel by Kari JeanThe Old Ausable Channel was part of the original Ausable River until two diversions at the end of the 19th century separated this body of water from the current Ausable River which flows into Lake Huron.

The channel which runs through Pinery Provincial Park and now carries only local drainage may be slowly evolving from a river-like ecosystem to a more pond-like ecosystem. The river is an important habitat for many species at risk and is in need of protection. It is also home to many residents and provides valuable recreation opportunities such as canoeing and fishing.

If you're interested on information on how to become involved in Old Ausable Channel Plan implementation please call Kari Jean at 519-235-2610, or toll-free 1-888-286-2610, or e-mail Kari Jean through our Staff Contact Page.

A new website for the Old Ausable River Channel, the Friends of the Old Ausable Channel volunteer group and information on the OAC Long-Term Management Plan and implementation is located at: www.oldausablechannel.ca

Two factsheets have been prepared for landowners to help protect water quality:

Protecting Fish

Protecting Your Watershed Through Environmental Landscaping and Land Stewardship

Old Ausable Channel Management Plan unveiled after two years of development - plan now moves into implementation

A management plan for the unique Old Ausable Channel ecosystem was unveiled to the public at a meeting held in Grand Bend in 2008 to showcase the document which has been two years in the making.

The Old Ausable Channel (OAC), which runs north from Grand Bend through Pinery Provincial Park, is one of the most unique ecological features in southwestern Ontario. The OAC is home to three species at risk fishes, and the oak savanna forest on its shores is internationally significant.

"The management plan was completed in early 2008 thanks to the assistance and dedication of a steering committee made up of Grand Bend and area residents as well as several agencies," said Kari Jean, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority Aquatic Biologist and Coordinator of the OAC Plan. "The creation of this plan is exciting because we now move into implementing community recommendations on how to conserve this important watershed."

Thirty-five people attended the meeting at the Grand Bend Royal Canadian Legion. They found out about the highlights of the finished Management Plan and the role they can play in implementation and received a copy of the document.

The Grand Bend Community Foundation is contributing $15,000 for implementation of the plan in 2008. Implementation actions will include the education of residents and neighbours of the channel, anglers and visitors regarding beneficial practices near the ecosystem. Projects will include a wetland enhancement study at the north end of the channel and the creation of a landowner native plant guide, among many other recommendations to be completed.

"We have enjoyed working with the ABCA throughout this process, and are very impressed by the results," said David Bannister, Chair of the Grand Bend Community Foundation. "The Foundation sees this as an excellent investment in the long-term environmental quality of the Grand Bend area."

The creation of the Old Ausable Channel Management Plan, and its implementation, has been made possible by several funding partners: Grand Bend Community Foundation, Government of Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, Delivered through the Department of the Environment; Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation; Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority; and other generous community sponsors.

The Old Ausable Channel was cut off from the rest of the Ausable River at the end of the nineteenth century. No longer part of a flowing river, the channel is characterized by clear water and dense aquatic vegetation. Due to its lack of flow, the old river channel will, over many years, convert to a more pond-like ecosystem that may eventually become less aquatic and more terrestrial.

Residents of Grand Bend and area embarked on a planning process in 2006, to develop a long-term management plan for the Old Ausable Channel, in conjunction with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) and other agencies. A stakeholder steering committee was formed consisting of representatives from the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority, the Pinery Provincial Park, the Municipality of Lambton Shores, the Universities of Western Ontario and Waterloo, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and volunteers from the five main Grand Bend residential communities including Southcott Pines, Pinedale, Beach O� Pines, Wee Lake and Huron Woods as well as representatives from the village of Port Franks.

This planning process carried over into 2007, with the community-based stakeholder committee continuing to provide direction and guidance into the design of the management plan. The plan was completed in early 2008.

"After a thorough planning process with the community we are looking forward to implementing the recommendations that have been developed," Jean said.

Anyone interested in information on the OAC document can contact Kari at Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority at 519-235-2610 or 1-888-286-2610 or e-mail Kari Jean through our Contact Staff Link. The completed plan is posted at www.abca.on.ca and www.oldausablechannel.ca