Superintendent of Tondre Glacier Park to retire at the end of the year


When Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow began his career in public service 33 years ago, he never dreamed he would be where he is now.

The man who started his career with the National Park Service as a seasonal ranger at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Gustavus, Alaska, recently emailed his staff announcing his intention to retire at the end of the year.

“One of the things I noticed in my career was that I always had new opportunities that presented themselves at times when I might not be ready to go,” Mow said. during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Because of that, I’ve always had this feeling that maybe it’s best to leave when you’re not quite ready.”

During his career with the National Park Service, Mow helped guide the agency through a number of difficult situations, most notably as the Home Office incident commander on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, investigator of the Exxon Valdez Alaska Oil Spill in 1989, and as a policy advisor to the NPS Climate Change Response Program.

Mow has been the Superintendent of Glacier National Park since August 2013, but was temporarily assigned to detail in April as the Interim Director for the Alaska Region of the National Park Service, overseeing 17 national parks, reserves, monuments and parks. national historic.

Now 62, Mow spent most of his career in Alaska before coming to Montana. During his 22 years in the Last Frontier, he served as a ranger, chief ranger, management assistant and superintendent in seven NPS units.

“Back in Alaska this summer, I was able to go back and see some of the work I was involved in in the planning and design phases,” Mow said of his return. “I have been able to see the final build and how it works over the past 10 years. It was amazing and rewarding to be able to see how others were able to grab the ball and run with it. It’s great teamwork.

A NATIVE from Los Angeles, Mow said his time spent hiking and climbing outdoors with the Boy Scouts had helped him move towards his career with the National Park Service, although he didn’t never thought it would take him this far.

“I grew up around national parks. I spent much of my high school training years in and around Yosemite National Park. Working in conservation and in an outside setting, that was a natural direction for me to go, ”Mow said. “I never had the ambition to be superintendent or to occupy the position of regional director. These are the two things I never would have seen coming. Early in your life, you make decisions about where you want to go. Some of these decisions you can hang on to, but you also have to let the opportunity take you where it will be.

Mow graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in environmental education in 1981 before focusing on geology during his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. While at both schools, Mow spent his summers in southwestern Montana as a geological field assistant with the US Geological Survey, first arriving in the state in 1979. He spent four summers working for USGS doing geologic mapping in Flint Creek, Anaconda. Pintler and Sapphire Ranges from Montana.

After spending time working as an electrician, learning skills that he says are still useful today, teaching geology at a community college, and working four years as an instructor at the Yosemite Institute, Mow has moved to northern Alaska to begin his career in the NPS. as a seasonal ranger at Glacier Bay National Park.

Mow’s first permanent job in the NPS was as a ranger at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway before taking over from a District Ranger, Chief of Operations and Livelihood Officer at Gates National Park and Preserve. of the Arctic in Bettles, a place that still holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s hard to pick the favorites among your kids, but Gates of the Arctic was just amazing,” Mow said. “It’s eight and a half million acres without a single road or developed infrastructure. To fly over it is incredible – the immensity of it all. I think some of my favorite memories and those of my wife are of skiing in the afternoon up there (Gates of the Arctic), as long as the temperature was above 20C. The way the light cast such long shadows was quite memorable. “

MOWING MOVED in Washington, DC in 2001 as Congressman NPS Bevinetto working with the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources before returning to park management as superintendent of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado in 2002.

He became the Superintendent of Kenai Fjords in Alaska in 2004 and spent eight years there before assuming the post of Acting Superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve at the end of 2012.

After returning to Kenai Fjords, Mow moved to Glacier in August 2014. Over the years he has battled a number of issues head-on including wildfires, the rebuilding of the historic Sperry Cabin after one of these fires, the skyrocketing number of visitors and even a pandemic. .

Glacier National Park went through many changes during Mow’s tenure, including its designation as a Dark Sky Park, the reintroduction of wild bison herds, and the adoption of a ticketed entry system for them. motorists on the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Highway in 2021 in an effort to relieve congestion.

Temporary assignments kept Mow away from Glacier during his time there, including as deputy regional manager of Intermountain in Denver in early 2018 and his more recent duties in Alaska, which took him away from Glacier just as the new ticket entry system was slated to begin this summer.

“I left on short enough notice for myself and the staff, but looking back over the past seven months and seeing how well things have turned out has been very rewarding. I think it’s every superintendent’s dream to have a team that can function so seamlessly in their absence, ”Mow said. “Because of that, maybe now is a good time if I want to go out and do something else. With the dream team in place at Glacier, it would be a good time if I wanted to step away.

While Mow says he’s not sure what to do with his time after retirement, he says he knows he wants to spend more time enjoying the surroundings of his home in Whitefish.

“I see retirement as a different phase of life. My father, who is now 98, retired at 59, so he’s been retired longer than he’s ever worked. If I have such aspirations, it’s hard to know what will happen to me next, ”he said. “I’m interested in continuing on some of these issues around conservation and climate change. How I do this I’m not sure yet. I also plan to enjoy more things that I could only do on weekends or when I took a day off, like skiing Big Mountain.

A Rotarian for over 15 years, Mow was mayor of Bettles, Alaska from September 1995 to January 1998, after being elected to city council by an overwhelming 17 votes in a city of 84. Mow says he wants to be again more involved in community service, something he says was a superintendent never really gave him the opportunity to explore.

“It was a great race and I had the chance to have great experiences and to work with great people,” he said. “When I look back on all the accomplishments of my career at NPS, all of these things have been possible because of the hard work of staff, volunteers and partners. Although we at the NPS are the keepers of special places, everything happens because of their efforts. “

Journalist Jeremy Weber can be reached at 406-758-4446 or


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