For Immediate Release November 19, 2019
FROM: Wintermission Eau Claire Team
TO: Eau Claire area media
Wintermission Eau Claire announces collaboration establishing Winter Recreation Path
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – Wintermission Eau Claire, in partnership with the City of Eau Claire and area running organizations, is pleased to announce its first Pilot Project for the 2019-20 winter is a Winter Recreation Path to be plowed with high priority as a pilot project for this winter.
The route will connect Phoenix Park to UW-Eau Claire’s campus and create a circuit around the Randall Park Historic Neighborhood, and will receive the same priority plowing as major arterial city streets. The path will be easily accessible from the city’s Phoenix Park parking ramp and Hobbs Ice Arena. UW-Eau Claire’s parking lots on Water Street will maintain priority access to the city trails with free parking on weekends.
“Having a four-mile portion of Eau Claire’s central city trails plowed at high priority after snow events signals a resounding investment in residents’ physical and mental health,” said Jake Wrasse, Wintermission Eau Claire spokesperson. “Knowing you’ll be able to continue outdoor recreation regimens—whether you walk, run, or fat-tire bike—year-round on Eau Claire’s city trails will make it easier to sustain healthy habits and enjoy our beautiful natural setting while preventing the ‘cabin fever’ that too often accompanies winter.”
Matt Evans, who teaches a distance-running class at UW-Eau Claire and is involved with numerous area running organizations, was working with the city to establish such a route before he connected with Wintermission. When Evans learned more about the project, it became clear this idea for a plowed winter running route aligned perfectly with Wintermission’s goals.
“In a climate like ours, it can be difficult to stay active year-round, and many runners report they fall out of good habits in winter because their summer running routes aren’t accessible in winter,” said Evans, noting that running on treadmills is irksome for many distance runners. “Knowing the city will give priority to clearing this path means people can count on having this public space available as a recreation resource all year.”
Wintermission Eau Claire, which supports increasing outdoor recreation opportunities and decreasing social isolation in winter, decided to advocate for the effort to establish such a trail based on the success of similar efforts in Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton has been designated a Winter City Vanguard for its comprehensive winter planning efforts, which include recommendations for “shared use paths and open space connections” for “pedestrians, runners, and cyclists” even after major snow events. At the completion of the 18-month Wintermission grant, Eau Claire will have developed its own Winter City Strategy.
Decreasing social isolation and increasing outdoor physical activity in winter are shown to reduce risks for chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and mental health issues. Twenty-percent of the city’s population reports more than seven days of poor mental health in winter, and 30% have hypertension or chronic cardiovascular illnesses.
The Eau Claire Wintermission team is working collaboratively with local governments to identify projects to implement during the 2019-20 winter, and more pilot projects will be announced soon. For more information, contact Jake Wrasse from Wintermission Eau Claire at 715-836-5613 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Matt Evans on behalf of area running groups at 715-836-5519 or email@example.com.