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Ryan Epp, who started a Facebook group to help people figure out where to camp for free on Crown land, prepares for a weekend camping trip at his home in Calgary, June 5, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Mounties in west-central Alberta say they are preparing for a busy summer in an area where people randomly camp on public land.

Rocky Mountain House R-C-M-P, who patrol public land along with fish and wildlife officers, say they expect an increase due to COVID-19 restrictions in organized campgrounds.

Parks Canada has said its sites will remain closed until at least June 21, while Alberta Parks reopened campgrounds earlier this month, but at half capacity.

Ryan Epp, a Calgarian who started a Facebook group named Crown Land Camping Alberta, says he hopes to help others learn how to camp for free on public land.

His group has grown to more than 30,000 members in two months.

Alberta Environment and Parks says its staff already saw an increase in public-land use in parts of southern and central Alberta on the May long weekend, but it remains to be seen if that will continue throughout the summer.

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