As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.
This is the 16th in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.
Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.
This week’s entry is a father-daughter collaboration. Tom Bredow lived in park housing at Little Sand Bay when he was the district ranger at Apostle Islands NL from 1981 to 1991.
Wendy grew up in this house, went to school in Bayfield, and got a job as a ranger here from 1995 to 1998.
What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?
Tom – Patrolling along the mainland shoreline via snowmobile and exploring in the ice caves – crawling inside.
Wendy – I assisted black bear researcher Dr. Anderson from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point in the research/studying of black bears and population dynamics on the Islands.
During the winter months, my supervisor and I would assist the researchers by towing them in sleds behind snowmobiles from the mainland to a few of the islands where the bears would hibernate in their dens for the winter. Their den locations were previously determined by telemetry and small fixed wing aircraft by the researchers as the bears had transmitting collars that had been placed on them during the previous summer(s).
From the beach, we would snowshoe into the interior regions of the islands and locate the bears in their dens to obtain biological data, replace or remove their collars, and determine if the sows had given birth to cubs.
If cubs were present, data about each cub was also obtained. On one such trip to a den, I got the opportunity to hold 3 baby cub bears while data was collected. To holding of bear cubs just a few months old was an incredible experience I won’t forget!
What is the most fun experience you had in the park?
Tom – Being out on Lake Superior whether in a boat or on a snowmobile.
Wendy – I enjoyed my time living and working on Stockton Island with my Law Enforcement Ranger, Maintenance, and Interpretation co-workers.
Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.
Tom – Guiding black bear researcher, Ray Anderson from UWSP, via snowmobile, to a hibernating female bear and putting the two small bear cubs in my parka to keep them warm while Ray checked the health of the mother bear.
Wendy – Responding to a number of different vessel in distress calls. A stranded sailboat at anchor off Sand Island in 8-foot rolling seas, a disabled sport fishing boat north of Outer Island, a small personal boat swamped at Oak Island spit, a disabled private vessel adrift in 3-foot seas at night off Stockton Island, capsized kayakers along the mainland sea caves.
What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?
Tom – The ice caves along the west side of the mainland shoreline.
Wendy – Beautiful sunsets!
Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride.
Tom – Being responsible for the Ranger operations for the entire Lakeshore for several years before it was divided into two districts.
Wendy – While at Apostle Islands NL, I learned to be a professional and proficient boat operator in inclement weather, reduced visibility, and to render assistance to disabled vessels. I obtained my USCG Merchant Mariner’s Credential (Captain’s License) as well as becoming an instructor for the NPS of the Motorboat Operator Certification Course (MOCC) while at APIS.
The experiences I have from APIS were a base that I have continued to build upon as I have increased the tonnage of my USCG Credential and am a Master Instructor (Train the Trainer) of the MOCC. I am the Regional Representative for Region 11/Alaksa and operate vessels on the Pacific Ocean now for Glacier Bay NP&P.
What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently?
Tom – Boating on the big water of Lake Superior in all kinds of weather.
Wendy – As a female Law Enforcement Park Ranger recently graduating from college and beginning my NPS career, I was selected to appear in a special edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine about life after college. The article is entitled, “Offbeat Jobs Are Out There, but Who Knew? Now You Do!”
If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?
Tom – Little Sand Bay on the mainland. After living there 10 years with co-workers, I have fond memories.
Wendy – The beach at Little Sand Bay to revisit and reflect on the many hours I spent there.
Wendy is currently the chief ranger at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Tom is retired from the NPS. We would like to thank them for this week’s entry in the Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.