Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) is one of a handful of Canada's national parks forced to shut down their winter services due to Federal Government budget cuts. The winter services were cut following a $29 million funding reduction to Parks Canada which effectively made RMNP a three-season National Park, as opposed to its long history as a four-season park. And many of the people in communities surrounding RMNP believe cutting a season out of the Parks doesn't fit our national identity. “Winter is a part of being Canadian,” RMNP four-season supporter Pam Little said in a phone interview with The Press. “We have a long winter, and with the health and wellness component, it's important in getting people out in the winter. I don't think they realize how much it is being used.” Area school programs, community ski groups, and families all regularly use RMNP for activities in the winter, Little noted. Community members who have been laid off as a result of the cuts are also affected, she added. Outdoor advocates have done their best to continue utilizing RMNP as a winter park, with organizations alternating turns clearing trails for one another, but it's not a maintainable approach. “We're doing a great job for volunteers, but it's just too much to ask in the long-term,” Little said. To show how important RMNP is in the winter, supporters organized an Occupy Winter event at the Park Sunday, Jan. 20. The response was great, people enjoyed outdoor activities such making quanzees, cross country skiing and kite flying. Local artist Kayla Luky also performed at the event, which organizers are calling a success. “A great turnout at Moon Lake Campground in Riding Mountain National Park with a clear message to Parks Canada - we Occupy Winter because we celebrate our Fourth Season,” Occupy Winter's Celes Davar said. “We deserve to have winter services provided by Parks Canada, groomed trails, and winter programs. We have paid for them with our tax dollars for decades; we've paid for them with our annual admission fees; and some of your strongest advocates use the national park trails more in the winter than in the summer.” Davar added that, if the Government adjusts the way it operates its National Parks, it should be able to continue four season use of RMNP regardless of its financial issues. “A new business model is needed in which resource alignment takes in to account the lion's share of resources; visitors in the summer, and a smaller and appropriate scaling of resources,” Davar explained. “(That can be done) by cutting other costs, raising new revenues from partnerships with your communities, and collecting revenues in the winter months. But, not having Parks Canada visitor services, experiences and trails is not an option that we condone.” Supporters are also circulating a petition, sponsored by MP Robert Sopuck, to have the policy reversed. They would like to see Canadians consulted about winter services at National Parks.