Entrance fees at Chester Woods Park are gone for good

(ABC 6 News) – A decision to remove entrance fees at an Olmsted County park during the COVID-19 pandemic is now permanent.

The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners voted to get rid of the entrance fees to Chester Woods Park permanently. Entrance fees were initially suspended in December 2021.

"We appreciate the support and recognition from the county board,” said Olmsted County Parks Director Karlin Ziegler. “Their vote demonstrates the value and importance of parks to the health and wellness of our residents and visitors."

Other revisions to the Olmsted County Parks rules and regulations were also made.

Vehicle owners or operators may empty waste holding tanks if they have paid a disposal fee to a campground host or park staff. Camper and recreational vehicle wastewater must be collected in an enclosed tank and disposed of at the designated dump station. Wastewater disposal on the grounds is prohibited.

Firewood sold at a county park is for use within that area. Transferring firewood for use outside park boundaries is prohibited.

Park patrons who have reserved a park shelter in advance of an event have the right to use up to eight picnic tables and one grill adjacent to the shelter. Shelter reservations do not authorize exclusive use of the green space, playgrounds, or parking areas adjacent to the shelter.

Horseback riders
Seasonal bridle permits are only allowed in Chester Woods Park. Horseback riders must obtain daily bridle permits for Root River Park in advance from the Parks director or a designated Parks staff member.

Domestic pets
Service animals on a leash are permitted with their owners in all park areas as long as they don’t disturb people or other animals in the vicinity.

What hasn’t changed is that pets are permitted only when confined on a leash not exceeding six feet long and only in designated areas of the parks.

Firearms and weapons
Firearms and other weapons are permitted as needed by Parks staff for necessary animal control measures or emergencies. People who possess a valid permit to carry a firearm are also authorized to carry their firearm while in Olmsted County parks.

Hunting and trapping
Hunting and trapping are permitted by Parks staff for necessary animal control measures. Individuals must have a valid Minnesota-issued license to fish in Olmsted County parks.

"A lot of work went into updating the Olmsted County Parks Ordinance," Ziegler said. “We were able to take input and come up with rules that better meet the needs of our community."