LETHBRIDGE - There's a growing movement in Lethbridge, hoping to call more attention to the gradual phasing-out of off-highway vehicles in expanded Castle Wildland Park, and the new Castle Provincial park.
The move, announced last week in Pincher Creek, by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, has drawn sharp criticism from OHV groups across southwestern Alberta who complain of a lack of consultation on the closures.
Larry Gejdos and his family have been off-roading for generations. He hopes there's some constructive debate and discussion on the matter.
"There's such an overwhelming presence out there of people that..... I think they're upset because it feels like they're being told what's gonna happen and they don't have a choice. They don't have a say. It tends to happen anyway, no matter what. And the only form of re-buttal is an on-line survey or stuff of that nature that never really amounts to anything."
He adds that there also seems to be some division from within various OHV groups.
"Both sides of the party in every debate should be present and heard in a positive manner. Each side does have valid points."
He says many people who have been off-roading for generations feel wronged by the province's announcement. Especially those people and groups who work to clean up and repair trails and vegetation in a responsible manner.
Gejodos believes that phasing out of OHV's will become a "sheep-herding" issue. Closing one or more areas will result in the majority of people heading to the next most popular area. Then he says, the fear is that those secondary areas will also be shut down, because of a glut of riders, resulting in a total OHV ban everywhere.
The Rocky Mountain Riders Facebook page indicates a rally has been organized for February 11th at Galt Gardens in Downtown Lethbridge, with the Wildrose Party leader as a guest speaker. A petition has also been posted at change-dot-org.
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