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Ausable River

The Ausable River basin is 1190 square kilometres in area. 

This river arises near Staffa in West Perth and flows south to Ailsa Craig, where it makes a wide arc to the west. 

Prior to 1873, the river traveled north and made a sharp turn in the aptly named Grand Bend. Originally the river flowed southwest to its outlet near Port Franks. Between 1873 and 1875, the course of the river was altered by excavating a channel from the boundary between the wards of McGillivray and West Williams to Port Franks. ‘The Cut’ now diverts flow from Grand Bend towards the current river mouth at Port Franks. The main tributaries of the Ausable River include Black Creek, the Little Ausable River, and Nairn Creek.

Agriculture is the predominant land use, and forest covers about 14 per cent of the Ausable River watershed. Hay Swamp, the Ausable Gorge, and the valley immediately upstream of the gorge are areas with extensive forest cover. Woodlots are typically found in small areas of flood plain and in wetlands. The woodlots at the backs of farms tend to create strips of forest, a pattern common in the southwestern Ontario landscape.

The Ausable River, located at the northern edge of the Carolinian Zone, supports animals that are not found in many Canadian rivers. At least 26 species of mussels, 94 species of fish, and 18 reptile species have been found here (ABCA 2012; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 2011). Many of these species are rare. Since 2002, ABCA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been working with local landowners and agencies to implement a recovery strategy for the Ausable River.

Old Ausable Channel

The Old Ausable Channel (OAC) became a tributary of the Ausable River when the channel was created at Grand Bend in 1892. Nearly 80 per cent of this 24-square-kilometre watershed is within Pinery Provincial Park. The OAC is now a wetland ecosystem, rather than a flowing river. The wetland habitat supports three species-at-risk (SAR) fishes. Threats to this habitat include nutrient inputs, low oxygen concentrations, and fluctuating water levels. The OAC watershed also contains an Oak Savanna forest community. 

Ausable River Action Plan (ARAP)

The Ausable River Action Plan applies to the Ausable River Watershed, including its tributaries and wetland habitats. The Action Plan identifies critical areas vital to the survival and recovery of these important species at risk and where work is needed.

The updated Action Plan includes timelines to complete recommended actions categorized as high, medium, and low. Recommended actions for species recovery include monitoring species and habitat; increasing awareness through education and outreach; and completing on the ground projects such as riparian buffers, non-riparian erosion control, and protecting and enhancing natural areas including wetlands.

To find out about Canada's approved Ausable River Action Plan (ARAP), which builds upon the former Ausable River Recovery Strategy, visit this web page: