CALGARY -- As part of the provincial government's plan to Optimize Alberta Parks, track setting and trail grooming will no longer be publicly provided at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Mount Shark and Kananaskis Village areas.

The move has sparked a lot of outrage on online blogs, and is related to an online petition.

"The government (likes)defunding everything except the oil industry and there's so much more in this beautiful province that needs to be funded," said Jan Dorrestijn, as he was cross country skiing in the Peter Lougheed park on Tuesday.

"Defunding this... I'm not on board with that."

Other park users e-mailed CTV News to express their concern on Thursday.

"I can’t believe that such a gem is being allowed to vanish. This trail system is the reason I love winters here," said Julie Sedivy.

"I have to admit that it may be a factor in whether I continue to live in Calgary."

Many wrote in about their familes' use of the trails for winter recreation.

"The closure of these trails or lack of trail maintenance would have a substantial impact on the quality of life, health, fitness and recreation for many Albertans," said Rob Holmes.

Jason Nixon, Alberta's Minister for Environment and Parks told reporters the decision supports fiscal responsibility.

"(There's a) significant cost associated with ski trails to be able to maintain (them)," he said.

"They are open for the time being, " he added. "We're (still) a while away from the next season.

"We will continue to have conversations with non-profit organizations and other partners that we have that work within the parks system."

Nixon added that usage of the ski areas was also considered.

"We're not going to continue to cause taxpayers to lose millions of dollars on the system that is being under-utilized."

It's part of a larger announcement to immediately partially or fully close 20 parks, and offload another 164 to save the province $5 million.

There's only three provincial park staff to maintain the trails in Peter Lougheed, according to Linda McLaughlin, track setter and groomer of nordic ski trails with the Shaganappi Nordic Operations Club.

"As far as the overall budget for Alberta goes, that's a drop in the bucket," she said.

The Calgary Ski Club is concerned at how other southern Alberta trails will be affected.

"It will put a strain on existing facilities that are going to continue to be track set such as Bragg Creek and the Canmore Nordic Centre," said John Walton, president of the club.

Walton said he was surprised his group was not contacted by the Province before this announcement, adding that he hopes to arrange a meeting to discuss options for trail maintenance.