For mental and physical well-being of the community
The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners voted today to temporarily suspend entrance fees at Olmsted County parks from December 4, 2020 until April 30, 2021.
This means that visitors can enjoy any Olmsted County park – including Chester Woods – free of charge during this timeframe. The county board made this decision to help benefit the mental and physical well-being of residents in Olmsted County.
“Both avid and new park users have flocked to parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including right here in Olmsted County,” said Olmsted County Board Chair Matt Flynn. “Our parks and natural resources provide recreation and rejuvenation in an outdoor setting where physical distancing is highly achievable. As part of the county wellness initiative, the county board believes it’s important for all our park visitors to enjoy Olmsted County parks free of charge at a time when COVID-19 is straining our community.”
Using Olmsted County Parks safely and respectfully
Olmsted County encourages the community to get outdoors and enjoy our parks during the pandemic in a safe and respectful way. The Olmsted County Parks team in conjunction with Olmsted County Public Health Services ask that you adhere to the following guidelines to help ensure a safe experience and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.), stay home and do not engage in outdoor activities.
- Strongly consider visiting Olmsted County parks during non-peak times (mid-day on weekdays).
- Venture to more remote areas of the parks with less traffic.
- Limit gathering before or after park activities.
- Remain at least six feet away from others.
- Do not visit the parks in a group that include people from outside your immediate household.
- Face coverings are strongly encouraged, but not required, for people participating in recreational activities when physical distancing is not possible or difficult to maintain.
- Consider bringing an extra face covering with you so you have a dry one if yours gets wet or icy during outdoor recreation.
- Face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing.
- Come prepared. Currently, there are no public buildings open at Olmsted County parks and no warming houses available during your stay. Dress in layers and be able to warm up in your car if necessary.
Olmsted County parks offer many winter recreational opportunities. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat tire bike trails are offered at several parks.
“We have designated trails for each user group – for instance, special trails for cross-country skiing and fat tire biking. We ask that you please follow the signs and only use each trail for its intended purpose. If you happen to find yourself on a ski trail and you’re at the park for hiking, please do not use the ski trail. We have maps on our website that outline our park’s trails and the specific user groups they are designed for. Please consider downloading a map, so you’re prepared when you arrive at the park,” stated Olmsted County Park Superintendent Karlin Ziegler.
Ziegler says the Olmsted County Parks team spends a great deal of time maintaining the trails. When the trails are used properly, she says it’s easier to keep them in good condition. Ziegler also noted that her Parks team will work hard to pack additional trails this winter for hikers, dog walkers, and snowshoers.
“We are excited that even more in our community will be enjoying Olmsted County parks this winter,” said Ziegler. “We thank all of you in advance for following public health guidelines and our park rules as this will make for a more pleasant Olmsted County park experience for everyone.”
Media contact: Sue Struckmann, Executive Support Supervisor, 507-328-7006 or Struckmann.email@example.com