Winter access, services put on ice at Canada's national parks across the country

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - They're called an important part of the Canadian identity, but this year many of Canada's national parks have shut down winter services.

The parks are technically open, but visitor centres are closed, roads left unplowed and trails ungroomed in places like Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Kejimkujik in Nova Scotia and Point Pelee in southern Ontario.

Parks Canada made the decision after a $29-million federal budget cut.

The agency said it opted to cut back on services during the seasons where there were the fewest visitors.

But local groups across the country have been protesting the decision, calling it bad for tourism and bad for communities.

In some cases, Parks Canada is letting bands of volunteers or the local municipality use federal grooming machines to clear trails.