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Foundation Projects

Commemorative Woods

In 1988 the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) established five commemorative woods across the watershed. These areas are a place for funeral homes and family and friends to plant trees as a living memorial and legacy. Groves are located at:

  • Clinton Conservation Area – Clinton
  • Klopp Tract Commemorative Woods – between Zurich and Hensall
  • Rock Glen Conservation Area – Arkona
  • Morrison Dam Conservation Area – east of Exeter
  • Parkhill Conservation Area – Parkhill
  • Klondyke Commemorative Woods – Grand Bend

A sign designates the site and memorial plaques are placed on a signboard for specific donation levels. Planting a tree can also commemorate special occasions such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays or other events where a long-lasting natural tribute is appropriate.

Donors can choose from native species of trees such as Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Oak, Pine, Black Cherry, Spruce, Beech, Basswood, Sycamore, and Carolinian species that would do well in the specific area. The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) is entrusted with maintaining the areas.

Donation Options

Individuals can make donations for any amount through a funeral home or directly to the ABCF for the Commemorative Woods. An acknowledgment is sent to the family and a charitable gift receipt for income tax purposes is forwarded to the donor.

General Donation

Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted and can be specified for any Commemorative Woods site. These general donations are used to provide care and support at the site in perpetuity. 

$200 Donation

A minimum one-inch diameter tree is planted with the name of the recipient mounted on the sign at the Commemorative Woods location of your choice.

$750 Donation

A minimum one inch diameter tree is planted with a bronze sign mounted by the tree on a metal stake.

Haskett Funeral Homes (Exeter, Lucan, Zurich, Seaforth)

As part of their commitment to the families they serve, a contribution is made to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation to plant memorial trees throughout the Ausable Bayfield watershed area as a lasting tribute and living legacy. A tree dedication service is held on the third Sunday in September at Morrison Dam Conservation Area for families and friends.

A complete registry of all donations is on display at the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority administration office located at Morrison Dam Conservation Area, 71108 Morrison Line, east of Exeter.

Conservation Dinner

Conservation Dinner online auction returns in 2022
Week-long #VirtualConservationDinner online auction in 2022 begins March 31 and ends on April 7 at 9 p.m.

The Conservation Dinner Committee is bringing back the online auction for the second year in a row.

The charitable fundraiser went virtual for the first time in 2021 and it was a success in raising $40,000 for conservation projects in local communities. The Committee has decided to return to the online format for 2022.

The 2022 #VirtualConservationDinner online auction is to begin on Thursday, March 31, 2022 and ends on Thursday, April 7, 2022 at 9 p.m. You may find out more at and or phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Dave Frayne is Chair of the Conservation Dinner Committee. He says the committee had hoped to hold the dinner and auction in person this year but there is uncertainty during the current pandemic about whether a large in-person event could take place in April. He says the committee decided unanimously that it is prudent to return to the online auction format for 2022.

“We were so pleased by the community’s support of our first online auction last year and we hope donors and bidders will be just as generous in 2022,” he says. “We did look forward to meeting in person but since we don’t know what things will look like in April it’s safer to join together virtually this year in support of projects in our local communities.”

The Conservation Dinner is a partnership of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation and Exeter Lions Club. This dinner and auction charitable fundraising event started in 1990. Net profits are split evenly between community conservation projects of the Foundation and community conservation projects of the Exeter Lions Club.

The event has raised more than $1.255 million for the community over more than 30 years. 

Even when large in-person events are not possible the need to raise funds remains, according to the Dinner Committee Chair. The Conservation Dinner fundraiser supports needed projects, by Exeter Lions Club and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, in local communities. 

The Exeter Lions Club has been a partner for more than three decades in the Conservation Dinner. The Exeter Lions Club, chartered in 1937, is part of the world’s largest and most active service organization. It is a group of service-minded men and women banded together to do things which cannot be done by individuals working alone. The club has actively fundraised for projects including development and maintenance of South Huron Trail, MacNaughton Park, and other nature and conservation projects. These are just some of the examples of their service in action.

Projects supported by the Dinner include community work by the Lions Club and community work by the Conservation Foundation.

These projects, supported by auction sponsors and donors and bidders and volunteers, are many. They include parks and conservation areas; accessible nature trails in Bayfield, Clinton, Parkhill, Lucan, Arkona, Exeter, and Varna; outdoor nature education; a $1,000 student environmental bursary for students in local communities; a summer job at Ausable Bayfield Conservation for a senior secondary school student; turtle monitoring in Port Franks and Ailsa Craig; aquatic habitat studies in Old Ausable Channel at Grand Bend; and other

Last year, the Dinner Committee partnered with participating local restaurants, for the first time, in a Dining for Your Community effort. Families could purchase their own ‘conservation dinners’ from participating restaurants during the week of the auction. This allowed them to support community projects, and their local businesses, in the process. Organizers hope to bring back this dining venture for 2022. The committee invites local restaurants to take part.

To learn about Dining for Your Community and to watch for 2022 restaurant partners visit this web page:

Last year, for the first time, the Dinner Committee hosted two live TV broadcasts to kick off and cap off the auction week. The Committee plans to bring back these popular livestream broadcasts in 2022. You may watch for details on this web page:

 The broadcasts are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2022 and at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, 2022 (the last day of auction week).

To learn more about the online auction visit this web page:

 A link to the online auction will be posted on this page when the online auction begins on March 31.

Leave a Local Legacy

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation believes in planting trees and protecting, through ownership, the lands identified as important wetlands, Carolinian forest areas and areas of natural and scientific interest.

Individuals are encouraged to think about a charitable gift through a will, life insurance, annuity, or publicly-traded securities.

Planned giving comes in all sizes, from a few dollars to much larger bequests, yet all are needed to make a lasting difference in your community and in our watershed's environment. Discuss your wishes with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, financial or estate planner.

Fishing Derby

Each year the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation and Exeter Lions Club contribute financially towards stocking the Morrison Dam Reservoir with between 700 and 800 rainbow trout for the annual Fishing Derby in April or May.

The event is well-attended and is fun for anglers of all ages.

The 2022 Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 7, 2022.

For changes to dates and Notices of Service Disruptions visit this web page:

South Huron Trail Golf

The South Huron Trail Golf Tournament is a charitable fundraiser hosted by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF).

Local volunteers started the golf tournament which has raised more than $67,000 towards creation, improvements, and maintenance of the South Huron Trail. Community volunteers have continued to be vital to the tournament’s success since Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation took over the reins.

Thanks go to sponsors and donors who have made it possible for the tournament to support the health, social, environmental, and recreational benefits of the popular trail. The organizing committee invites businesses or groups to be event sponsors. Organizers of the tourney say the golf tournament is a “FUNdraising event” with an emphasis on fun.

For more information visit: and South Huron Trail Golf Tournament.

For more information phone 519-235-2610 or 1-888-286-2610 or email Sharon Pavkeje by visiting our staff contact page.


Jones Bridge - New Pedestrian Bridge along the South Huron Trail

Building a bridge to a safer, more active community became a reality in late 2018 when the Jones Bridge was installed downstream of Morrison Dam. This new pedestrian bridge offers walkers and cyclists an alternative to using the busy two-lane municipal road when on the trail.

In the spring of 2019 a pergola, with benches, stairway with deck and connecting trails were built to access the bridge, thanks to generous community donations. When crossing the bridge, stop in the pergola and read through the names of the generous donors who contributed more than $300,000 towards the capital fundraising goal. 

A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony was held on April 28, 2019 to officially open the Jones Bridge. 

Future donations made to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation will support the Jones Bridge legacy preservation fund and are eligible for charitable gift receipts for income tax purposes. 

The bridge is called Jones Bridge as it is dedicated by Donna Jones, in loving memory of Ted Jones, who was a long-time community volunteer, conservationist, Exeter Lions Club member and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation director.

Conservation Education Fund

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation is a strong supporter of conservation education for youth. Funds that have been raised by the Conservation Foundation have contributed to the success of the former Sylvan Conservation Program at Camp Sylvan and Nature Day Programs offered to students of all ages. 

Special opportunities to support conservation education are available. Through generous donations you help maintain and operate terrific, active programs, teaching youth about water, soil, habitat for living things, and the natural world around them.


Student Environmental Award

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) is offering a $1,000 award for graduating high school student(s) or enrolled University or College students who will be, or are currently enrolled in post-secondary studies in a conservation field (i.e. biology, ecology, geography, forestry, fish and wildlife, outdoor education, etc.

Students must be between the ages of 17-25, have a permanent address within the boundaries of the Ausable-Bayfield watershed, be currently enrolled in University or College, or graduating High School, and pursuing a post-secondary education in a conservation/environmental related course of study (i.e. biology, ecology, geography, forestry, fish and wildlife, outdoor education, etc.). 

Immediate families of Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority Staff, Board of Directors and Foundation members are ineligible.

Only students who have a permanent address in the following Municipalities, who live within the boundaries of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority watershed are eligible to apply for the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation Environmental Award:


Accessible Nature Trails and Facilities

Development of accessible nature trails began at Rock Glen Conservation Area with the 'Wheels to Nature' project. Since then, there have been accessible boardwalks and fishing docks built at Morrison Dam and Bannockburn. 

The Annual Friends of the South Huron Trail Golf Tournament continues to maintain the MacNaughton Morrison Section of the South Huron Trail, which was a major project of the community, supported by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation.

Junior Conservationist Program

The Junior Conservationist is an eight-week position with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA). It is funded by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation (ABCF) and offered each summer to a selected student interested in pursuing a career in the environmental field.

Woodland Reflection Shelter

The Woodland Reflection Shelter is a place where one can remember loved ones who are gone, loved ones who are with us, and reflect on nature and pause during a visit to the South Huron Trail.

Thanks to the volunteers, donors, generous local businesses, and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation Supporters who made this dream a reality.