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 meeting 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. But you know, I don't really see this as sort of an end as much as you know, it's time to move on to something else. Something else means a little more time for myself, I think to enjoy the area where I've made home for the last eight years, but also, you know family. 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. "And usually it sort of came in the form of fire. But sometimes it came in the form of government shutdowns or, you know, certainly COVID. And I'm really proud of the staff of their ability to adapt and be flexible, and you know, 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, you know, our tribal relations and working more closely with tribes which is a huge initiative and focus for this current administration," Mow told MTN News. "You know, working at that landscape level, I really am proud of that you know. Sort of being able to step into those shoes, pick up and run with those things, and feel like we're in a really good spot moving forward."
Mow says during his time in Alaska he learned the importance of community relationships and is very 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.
"You know, it's really about the bigger ecosystem. You know the national park is there, but the demands, the issues don't stop at the boundary."