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Trails, conservation areas reopen to limited use

Remaining closed until further notice are buildings and museums, and privies.


ABCA reopens conservation areas, trails to limited use
Privies remain closed until further notice

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) announced on May 22, 2020 that trails and conservation areas owned and/or managed by ABCA were reopened to limited use. Privies in conservation areas remain closed and Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is also closed until further notice. Otherwise, ABCA trails and conservation lands are open for public use contingent on following public health direction. 

ABCA reminds people they need to practise all applicable public health guidelines including social physical distancing of at least two metres (six feet). The conservation authority is adding signs to reinforce the need for social physical distancing and it is asking people to not use the trails, conservation areas, or other conservation lands if they have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The reopening includes all conservation areas: Clinton, Bannockburn, Zurich, Morrison Dam, Crediton, Lucan, Parkhill, Rock Glen, and Ausable River Cut. Other properties include Mystery Falls, L-Lake, Sadler Tract, and Linfield. The reopening also includes MacNaughton-Morrison Section of the South Huron Trail.

ABCA began Phase 1 of property reopenings on May 19, with opening of conservation forests and management areas where there are no trails, parking lots, or other shared amenities.

The May 22 reopening of properties also extends to Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy properties: Bayfield River Flats Nature Area; Mayhew Tract; and Heaman Tract.

ABCA continues to consult with municipalities and community partners in reopening of facilities. Staff have been doing risk management inspections at the conservation areas to ensure they are safe for reopening. The ABCA Board of Directors approved the property reopenings at the May 21, 2020 Board of Directors meeting. 

“We thank everyone for the patience they have shown as we prepared for the appropriate time to reopen these wonderful locations for safe nature enjoyment,” said Doug Cook, Chair of the ABCA Board of Directors.

The past few weeks have really underlined how much local residents cherish local trails and conservation areas, according to the Chair. “We are glad to be in a stage where we can begin to reopen,” Cook said. “We ask people to use these areas properly to keep themselves, their families, their neighbours, and their community safe.”

The conservation authority will monitor trail and conservation area use and will make decisions affecting the areas based on updated information from the Province of Ontario, police and public health authorities, as well as local use patterns.

For updates on trails, conservation areas, conservation lands, and Ausable Bayfield Conservation service adaptations visit the website and the Notices of Service Disruptions web page at this link:

ABCA is asking visitors to select the property closest to them in order to reduce crowding and to limit travel. Trail and conservation users are also encouraged to keep their visits as short as possible. Trail and conservation area users are asked to plan their visit accordingly and to bring their own hand sanitizer. 

The privies at conservation areas are not open in 2020.

The washrooms at Rock Glen Conservation Area in Arkona are open between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Washrooms are closed twice during the day for a thorough cleaning. 

The Bruce Redman Antique Car Show will not be held in 2020 and is postponed until 2021. The tentative date for the show is September 18, 2021.

The Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is renovating its display. In order to make these improvements, and to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the museum will not reopen in 2020 but it will reopen, bigger and better than ever, in 2021. We look forward to welcoming you to the new, improved museum in 2021. Watch for notices of grand re-opening celebration activities in 2021.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA)  properties and trails reopened to public for limited use

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) properties and trails have been reopened to the public, for limited use, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Properties have been closed since March 31, 2020.  The opening affects all conservation areas: Clinton, Bannockburn, Zurich, Morrison Dam, Crediton, Lucan, Parkhill, Rock Glen, and Ausable River Cut. Other properties include Mystery Falls, L-Lake, Sadler Tract, and Linfield. The opening also includes MacNaughton-Morrison Trail.

The ABCA owns thousands of acres of forests and these properties are now open as well. Currently the following conservation area facilities remain closed until further notice: buildings and museums and privies. 

The opening to limited uses also includes properties of the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) – Bayfield River Flats Natural Area; Mayhew Tract; and Heaman Tract.

Visitors are asked to select the property closest to their home in order to limit unnecessary travel and avoid over-crowding. Visitors should limit their stay to an hour or less to ensure everyone can enjoy an experience in nature.

Be prepared to turn back if a parking lot is full. Illegal parking is subject to fines and towing. Visitors should follow public health and safety guidelines: 

  • Do not visit the property if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.
  • Practise physical distancing by staying a minimum of two metres (six feet) apart
  • Stay on trails, stepping off only to allow others to pass
  • Yield to oncoming trail users when crossing bridges and boardwalks
  • Do not gather or arrange to meet family, friends or other groups
  • Keep pets on leash and clean up after them
  • Do not trespass on private property next to ABCA trails
  • Respect the instructions provided by our dedicated staff

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