Local volunteers work to clean up storm damage in Bradley Park
By Sarah Greil
TOMAHAWK – The summer of 2021 brought with it some pretty harsh storms, which took their toll on the trees of Lincoln County. Among the places hit was Bradley Park in Tomahawk.
Jim Daenicke, of Tomahawk, frequently hikes the trails at Bradley Park. After the storms, many trails were impassible. Jim said he was often forced to crawl under large logs or detour around the downed trees. With so much other storm clean up to do, Jim couldn’t imagine that the City of Tomahawk would be able to take on the huge task of clearing trails any time soon, so he took it upon himself to get it done.
After talking to Mayor Steven Taskay, he was advised to speak with Steve Borem, the head of the Parks Department. Steve gave him permission to begin cutting downed trees.
Jim owned all of his own chain saws and equipment and, having worked in the wood room at PCA for 42 years, was quite familiar with cutting wood. On Sept. 25, Jim, along with friend and coworker Sally Thayer, began working on the Mirror Lake area off Putnam Street. He said it looked like a tornado had gone through. When done with that area, they moved on to the south/southeast portion of the park behind the Shell Station. Eventually, they began clearing the main part of the park by the Bradley Boat Landing, following the trails along the river.
Where there were accessible roads, the City of Tomahawk hired Pukall Lumber Company to come in with their large equipment to cut and haul the logs out, but where Jim and Sally were cutting, there was no way to get the logs out, so they were left where they were cut. Most of the time, they cut just enough of the tree so that the trail was passable.
Ray Zindrick, who frequently walks his dogs in Bradley Park, often stopped to check on Jim’s progress. One day he took the time to count the rings on a cut tree, and he estimated that particular tree was 220-225 years old.
With the onset of winter, the work had come to a brief halt, but once the ice was safe enough on the inland waters, Jim and Sally planned on clearing those areas because they are used by some adventurers for fat tire biking. Jim said that come spring, they plan on finishing up with Army and Navy Hill, since it’s much too steep and treacherous this time of year.
Jim says his greatest obstacle has been the terrain itself. Everything he uses needs to be packed in and packed out – two chain saws, tools, gas, oil.
“Thank God for ibuprofen!” he jested.
Thankfully, though, no volunteers have been injured working on the project. Jim says that he and Sally “come from a culture of safety at PCA and are always assessing the risks.”
While Jim and Sally estimate they’ve spent between 60-80 hours clearing trails, they said that Gary Buchanan and Dana Miller also volunteered their time and efforts to help out when they could. While others have inquired of Jim what they could do to help monetary-wise, Jim said he didn’t want anything in return for his work – he just wants people to be able to enjoy the trails again.
Along with Justin Lund, who often runs the trails, Jim and Sally are working on a way to better name and mark the trails, perhaps a box with maps at the beginning of the trails. Many locals already know their way through the park, but Jim thought it would benefit visitors to know the extent of where the trails lead.
For now, Jim will just be happy when the trails are all usable again and everyone can enjoy the trails as he does.
To learn more about the work being done in Bradley Park or to follow their progress, Jim has created a “Friends of Tomahawk’s Bradley Park” Facebook group.