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Winter services frozen at many national parks

Winter services frozen at many national parksColin Mudle, Ron Eaton, Rod Keirstead and Peter Rogers, left to right, meet at the barricaded entrance to Kejimkujik National park in Maitland Bridge, N.S. on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. Several of Canada's national parks, have been forced to curtail public access and services during the winter because of budget cuts. At Kejimkujik the popular back-country winter camping project with semi-permanent huts called yurts appears to have abandoned. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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.

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