one-use-cp-7068264

Canadian cowboy singer-songwriter Ian Tyson on his ranch is southern Alberta. ((Todd Korol/Canadian Press))

Country singer Ian Tyson was among the ranchers on horsebackin downtown Calgary this week protesting potential oil and gas developments on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Compton Petroleum is carrying out exploratory drilling in the area, a move that has prompted ranchers to ask for a debate on overhauling Alberta's regulatory system for oil and gas developments.

About six ranchers and landowners with the Pekisko Land Owners Association took part in the protest on Monday morning.

They arrivedon horseback outside the McDougall Centre, headquarters for the Alberta government in the southern part of the province.

Tyson dropped off a letter for Premier Ralph Klein, with a "Thank you, pardner" to a security guard.

Singer speaks out

"The current policy of liquidating oil and gas resources as quickly as possible is not in Alberta's best interests," said Tyson, a celebrated Canadian singer and songwriter.

"It is destroying agricultural communities, wildlife diversity, recreational tourism, and the signature landscapes all along the Cowboy Trail."

The ranchers argue they don't have enough say in the approval process of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, which regulates developments of the province's energy resources.

"In every single case we've been told that our interests ­- community interests - don't matter. As long as the individual landowner and the company have an agreement, nothing else matters," said John Lawson, one of the riders and a spokesman for the Livingstone Landowners Group.

Bob Curran, a spokesman for the utilities board, said it's still early and the company doesn't even know if drilling in the area will be successful.

"Our regulations are clear that area development planning has to take place in that part of the province once a company has completed the exploratory phase and is going to move into a development phase."