University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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phone: (715) 836-4741
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Putnam Park Trail Closed
After Partial Collapse

 MAILED:  Nov. 20, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The Putnam Park walking trail along the south bank of the Chippewa River has been closed until further notice after a section of the trail and river bank collapsed following heavy rains earlier this week.

The trail collapse occurred several hundred yards west (downriver) of where Little Niagara creek flows into the Chippewa River. It was discovered around noon Tuesday, said Terry Classen, director of facilities planning and management at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Approximately 25 feet of the trail has collapsed so far and the area remains unstable, Classen said. He said temporary barricades and tape have been put in place to block entrance to the trail. More permanent barricades will be erected soon, he said.

“Right now our primary concern is safety,” Classen said. “We have to caution people to stay away from the area because it is dangerous. The trail and bank may erode further without warning and it is a steep drop into the river at that location.”

It is believed heavy rains Monday evening saturated the sandy soil along the river bank causing it to become unstable following a prolonged dry period, Classen said. The weight and instability of the soil apparently collapsed a limestone wall erected years ago to stabilize the bank and trail, he said. He said the trail is expected to be closed until at least spring.

Engineers from Ayres Associates have been brought in to examine the collapse and explore possible engineering solutions to repair the trail, Classen said. Alternative solutions will be shared with the Putnam Park Commission to determine a recommended course of action.

“Guidance from the Putnam Park Commission is essential,” said Vice Chancellor of Business and Student Services Andrew Soll. “Putnam Park is supposed to remain in a natural state to the extent possible, and the university will work closely with the commission to identify possible repair options to the trail as well as ways to stabilize the bank that are sensitive to the natural environment.”

As more permanent barricades are erected, it is anticipated the trail will be open to allow access to Little Niagara and the west hiking loop, Classen said. The hiking trail will remain open from the Putnam Park Prairie entrance west of Chancellors Hall on upper campus, he said.


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: November 21, 2003