WEST GLACIER — Departing Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow is looking forward to having more time to enjoy the Flathead with his family.
He is looking back with satisfaction, having met the challenges of running the park for the past several years, and with thanks for the people who helped him do it.
“I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it, and I even know that there’s some things that I am going to sorely miss not working for the National Park Service. I don’t really see this as sort of an end as much as it’s time to move on to something else,” Mow said. “I’ve got elderly parents I should probably spend more time with.”
Mow, who steps down with the third-longest tenure of any Glacier National Park superintendent has had an amazing ride. Coming aboard shortly after the park entered its second century, he’s had to navigate interesting challenges — from fires to exploding visitation and a pandemic.
In fact, it was the 2015 Reynolds Creek fire that led to a movement for adaptability.
“We realized we really needed to ensure that our staff could be adaptable and flexible to the uncertainties that we would see over the course of the summer,” Mow told MTN News. “It came in the form of fire. But sometimes it came in the form of government shutdowns or COVID. I’m really proud of the staff of their ability to adapt and be flexible, and pivot where we needed to.”
Looking back, Mow can see Glacier was on the “bleeding edge” of issues starting to face most large parks.
“Addressing the issues of climate change. Improving our tribal relations and working more closely with tribes, which is a huge initiative and focus for this current administration,” Mow told MTN News. “Working at that landscape level, I really am proud of that.”
Mow said during his time in Alaska he learned the importance of community relationships and is thankful for the organizations that have worked with him over the years, and the friends he’ll continue to see during retirement in the Flathead.
“It’s really about the bigger ecosystem. The national park is there, but the demands, the issues don’t stop at the boundary.”