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Alberta's campers turn to public land due to COVID-19 –



On Monday the province’s campgrounds will reopen but COVID-19 restrictions will keep half the sites closed

Campgrounds in Alberta’s national parks will remain closed until at least June 21.

Meanwhile, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have followed Alberta and closed their campgrounds to out of province visitors.

If the Crown Land Camping Alberta Facebook group, recently launched by Calgarian Ryan Epp, is any indication, many Albertans are looking for alternatives.

In the seven weeks since launching the page, Epp has welcomed nearly 29,000 members with more joining all the time.

“I started it up basically looking to find some new people to go camping with,” Epp said. “I was expecting to get maybe 50, 60 people to join up.

“We’re still growing at almost a thousand a day,” he told CBC News. “It’s been crazy.” 

Epp believes the interest in his group is connected to conventional campgrounds being closed or restricted.

Ryan Epp and his friends circle the wagons at an undisclosed spot somewhere on Alberta’s public lands. (Ryan Epp)

Now he’s sharing his knowledge with people who have never used Crown land before, something the 46-year-old has been doing since he was a kid.

“We’d hit the forestry trunk road with our tents and some other family friends,” he said.

As an adult, Epp upgraded to a tent trailer and he’s recently purchased a hard-walled trailer.

“It’s got bathroom facilities and a water tank and everything, it’s a little more comfortable,” he said. “I’ve got a generator to supply power so that way I’m all set-up.”

It’s a long way from the five-gallon pail he once used for a toilet.

“There’s no services, so there’s no water, no electricity, no toilet facilities,” Epp said. “If you head out there you have to have all that with you.”

Camping on crown land usually can mean fewer neighbours. (Ryan Epp)

Epp is also quick to remind members of the etiquette and rules when it comes to Crown land camping.

“The big one with a lot of us is we try to haul out more than we take in,” he said. “We look for garbage, we’ll pick it up and bring it out.”

There are options for those looking for peace and quiet and options for those who might want to let loose and make a little noise.

“It’s so much more quiet,” he said. “If you want to make more noise you can because there’s not really anyone right beside you that you’re going to disturb.”

Epp says there are also Crown land camping areas ideal for specific hobbies like quading or fishing. The tricky part is finding those spots and Epp is fielding a lot of questions from people wanting to know where to go.

Albertans may have to get off the beaten path to find those special camping spots on public land. (Ryan Epp)

“We all have our secret spots that we’re not going to divulge to anybody,” he said. “The fun of it is going out and scouting out and finding your own secret spot to go to because there’s thousands upon thousands of kilometres to travel and find these throughout Crown land.”

CJ Blye, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in the faculty of kinesiology, sport and recreation, agrees.

“There are a lot of places; actually 60 per cent of the province is public land,” Blye said.

“We do have a number of wildland provincial parks that are north of Edmonton and then most of our public land use zones follow along that Rocky Mountain corridor all the way down to the south of the province.”

Much of the land is not easily accessible and Blye encourages people to check regulations before heading out.

Each public-land-use zone has its own rules and regulations, which are more important than ever, Blye said.

A room with a view. (Ryan Epp)

“The pressure that we’re going to be placing on our natural areas will be more significant because we’re going to see more folks wanting to get out,” she said.

“We want to be really careful that we’re not overloading our natural environments.

“Leave no trace camping and leave no trace travel is a great way to look at how we can be in these areas and reduce our impact,” she said.

Blye encourages people to check the online information provided by the provincial government and Alberta Parks before they head out.

Nobody from the province would talk about the pressure on Crown land.

In an email, Jess Sinclair, press secretary for the minister of Environment and Parks, said that over the May long weekend, staff saw an increase in public land use in parts of southern and central Alberta.

“It remains to be seen if campers that traditionally use our provincial parks will increasingly move onto public land for their fill of outdoor recreation,” Sinclair said. 

Sinclair urges users pack out what they pack in and limit stays in one spot to 14 days.

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Health Unit reports 35 new COVID-19 cases Saturday – Windsor Star



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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Windsor and Essex County jumped by 35 as of Saturday morning, with at least one grocery store employee testing positive.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 35 new cases for a total of 1,656 confirmed cases in the area, with the number of deaths holding steady at 68.

An employee at the Real Canadian Superstore at 4371 Walker Rd., recently tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19, said a Loblaw’s public relations spokesperson.

“We are working with the local public health team and have taken a number of steps to minimize risk, including increased sanitization protocols and enforcing social distancing practices in the store,” according to the emailed response. “The store also arranged for additional cleaning and has since reopened.

“Team members who worked closely with this individual are now at home in self-isolation, monitoring for any symptoms.”

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Health Unit Announces 35 New Cases of COVID-19 – AM800 (iHeartRadio)



The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced 35 new cases of COVID-19.

The newest cases announced Saturday includes 20 in the agri-farm sector.

Among the other cases, two involve healthcare workers, 12 are community based while one remains under investigation.

There are now 1,656 confirmed cases in the area with 68 deaths while 994 cases have been resolved.

The health unit also reports outbreaks at two long-term care homes.

There is also an outbreak at four workplaces, two in Kingsville and two in Leamington, which means there is two or more positive cases involving the workforce.

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Oil pares weekly gain amid virus fears, signs of tighter supply –



Oil slipped on Friday, paring a weekly gain, as concern of demand erosion from a coronavirus resurgence countered strong U.S. economic data.

Futures fell to about US$40 a barrel in New York as the virus continues to spread unabated across large parts of the U.S., clouding the outlook for energy demand. Crude prices gained 4.2 per cent for the week as data showed a rebound in the U.S. jobs market accelerated in early June and American crude stockpiles shrank by the most this year. A survey showed OPEC oil production dropped last month to the lowest since 1991.

The worsening pandemic may not have been fully captured in the jobs data, which provided a snapshot of hiring in the middle of the month before many states reversed course on their re-openings.

“We have had a sharp recovery in demand for energy products that has occurred from March to end of May,” Daniel Ghali, a TD Securities commodity strategist, said by phone. “Since then the pace of recovery has slowed. There is concern that this stall may be a signal of weakness in demand that’s tied to the rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S.”

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Adding to the murky demand outlook, Chinese oil inventories swelled to a record this week, satellite data show, after the world’s biggest oil importer went on a buying spree last quarter as the economy rebounded. The stockpiles may indicate a slowdown in buying by the East Asian country.

That outlook was balanced by the OPEC+ alliance’s commitment to reducing output, with Russia showing near total compliance with its targets. The group hasn’t made any decision yet on whether to extend its full cutback — which stands at 9.6 million barrels a day — into August, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. Ministers from the coalition next meet on July 15.

West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell 51 cents US to US$40.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 11:18 a.m. local time, after closing up 2.1 per cent on Thursday. Brent for September settlement declined 49 cents US to US$42.65 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, paring its weekly gain to four per cent. Trading volumes were low as the U.S. took a day off ahead of the July 4 holiday.

The global benchmark crude’s three-month timespread remained in contango — where prompt contracts are cheaper than later-dated ones — but the spread has narrowed in recent days, indicating that concerns about oversupply have eased slightly.

The decline in U.S. oil production continued as working rigs fell for a 16th week to the least since 2009, according to Baker Hughes data released Thursday. Exxon Mobil Corp., meanwhile, reported an unprecedented second straight quarterly loss as almost every facet of the energy giant’s business slumped.

Other oil-market news

-India’s oil market is showing an uneven recovery two months after easing virus-control measures. Provisional fuel sales from the three biggest retailers were at 88 per cent of 2019 levels in June.

-The oil market is “currently perhaps too optimistic” as COVID-19 cases haven’t peaked yet and there’s still a large inventory overhang, FGE said in a note. Prices could fall to US$35 a barrel in the near-term before recovering in the fourth quarter.

-Angola is under intense pressure from other OPEC+ members to speed up its oil output cuts, and the response from the African nation has so far failed to appease the group.

-Several crude cargoes floating near China have been re-offered or sold to other buyers in Asia as long lines of oil-laden tankers continue to wait for their turn to discharge in Asia’s top importing nation, said traders who asked not to be identified.

–With assistance from James Thornhill.

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