Tag Archives: Jack Potter

Pro-paving letter misquotes water quality study

It seems we can’t let a month go by without saying something about the road.

Anyway, if you are going to use science to support your position, it’s best to ensure you’re using it properly or you run the risk of annoying an actual scientist. A recent letter to the editor in the Hungry Horse News promoting paving the North Fork Road drew the ire of Jack Potter for editorial misuse of an out-of-context quote. Jack, Glacier Park’s former chief of science and resource management, sent the following response . . .

Dear Editor,

A disturbing trend is the misuse of scientific information through misquoting, taking something out of context, or altering text on the internet and/or in the press.  In his letter to the editor, Ray Brown of a “pave the North Fork Road” group in the annual spring offensive, says to support his contention that road dust is polluting the North Fork, thus paving is necessary:

“In addition, according to the 2007-2008 U.S. Geological Survey of water quality in the North Fork of the Flathead River, co-author E. William Schweiger, Ph.D. ecologist, Rocky Mountain Network, National Park Service, wrote in part that nearly all of the major western tributaries of the North Fork have previously been listed on Montana’s 303d list of impaired streams for cold-water fisheries owing to sediment-loading associated with erosion of unpaved roads.”

Ray goes on to say:

“This last finding in interesting in that our own Glacier National Park superintendent, who should have had access to the survey, either never got the memo or disregarded it out of hand. Perhaps the best way for the Park to address an issue like water and air quality along their western boundary is to pretend there is no problem to begin with.”

In fact taken in context Dr. Schweiger and his coauthors say:

“Clear-cut timber harvesting activity was relatively widespread in the western tributaries of the North Fork Basin in Montana from 1960 to 2000 (Gildea and others, 2004). Currently (2011), nonintensive timber harvesting occurs throughout the Flathead National Forest on the western side of the North Fork Basin (Paul Donnellon, Operations – Timber Management Flathead National Forest, written commun., 2011). Additionally, population growth and related construction activities on private land in the western portion of the basin are of concern. Construction of access roads associated with residential development, and subsequent erosion of road material, can be a substantial source of suspended sediment to streams (Ahtiainen and Huttunen, 1999; Gildea and others, 2004). Waste material from forest harvesting and sewage effluent from residential developments can cause an increase in the concentrations of nutrients in receiving streams, resulting in a reduction in biodiversity and loss of species habitat (Harr and Fredriksen, 1988; Zampella, 1994; Carpenter and others, 1998; Hauer and others, 2007). Suspended sediment in spawning areas can cause a reduction in fish embryo survivorship (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 2004).

Nearly all of the major western tributaries of the North Fork have been previously listed on Montana’s 303(d) list as impaired for cold-water fisheries owing to sediment loading associated with erosion of unpaved roads. Adoption of “Best Management Practices” for timber harvesting and forestry roads in the North Fork Basin, as well as reclamation of clear-cut areas, has greatly reduced the associated effects on water quality (Hauer and others, 2007). As a result, many of the western tributaries have been removed from Montana’s 303(d) list (Gildea and others, 2004). Existing and potential future residential development in the North Fork valley also is of concern. The western portion of the North Fork Basin in Montana has become increasingly popular as a vacation destination, and construction of vacation homes on private land in the North Fork valley has increased by about tenfold over the past 20 years (Hauer and others, 2007). These developments could affect the water quality and aquatic biology of the North Fork.”

The study doesn’t even come close to supporting Ray’s position, nor his fatuous statement about the park Superintendent.

If you  are interested in increasing your property values, maybe developing some of those hundreds of lots, or if you are a transplanted suburbanite living in Polebridge and want a smoother, faster commute, or you have a construction company in the North Fork as Ray Brown does, it would be better to be honest about paving.  Slow down, drive less.  With the uncertainty regarding the federal (dominion) coal blocks in the North Fork that were left out of the BC/Montana energy development moratorium, paving and subsequent development would be a great message to Canada, in addition to a long-term, irreversible, negative impact.  The National Park Service is correct in opposing paving.

Full citation of the above article:

From p. 2; Mills, T.J., Schweiger, E.W., Mast, M.A., Clow, D.W., 2012, Hydrologic, water-quality, and biological characteristics of the North Fork Flathead River, Montana, water years 2007–2008: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5221, 67 p.

Jack Potter
Columbia Falls, MT

Note: Jack Potter’s letter appeared on the Hungry Horse News web site almost immediately.

Jack Potter: “Conscience of Glacier” leaves lasting legacy for park

More well-deserved kudos for Jack Potter, this time from the Missoulian . . .

Friends, colleagues and fellow conservationists call him the conscience of Glacier National Park, a fitting term of endearment for a somewhat unlikely candidate, particularly given Jack Potter’s humble beginnings.

He started his career with the National Park Service scraping dishes at a Many Glacier café and, having achieved the mantle of leadership over the next 41 years, helped shape some of the most influential resource protection policies of his time.

Vast expanses of wilderness remain rustic and undeveloped because of Potter’s influence, and his work has minimized the pressures of development along Glacier Park’s perimeter, preventing the park from becoming a “wilderness island” besieged by incompatible land uses.

Continue reading . . .

Longtime park ranger retires

Jack Potter at Cosley Lake

Today’s Daily Inter Lake joins the chorus of folks saying nice things about Jack Potter on the occasion of his retirement . . .

Some reporters over the years have affectionately called him “Jack Pot,” because Jack Potter is a treasure trove of information for anything related to Glacier National Park.

Any type of animal, any plant, any place, any trail, any aspect of the park, Potter pretty much knows it all after a 41-year career in the park that came to an end with his recent retirement. But it really won’t come to an end, because Potter and his wife, Rachel, intend to carry on with volunteer work in the park for years to come.

“I just wanted to do something different,” said Potter, who was the park’s chief of science and resource management. “I just wanted to go out at a time when I was still enthusiastic about the job and still making a contribution.”

Continue reading . . .

More well-deserved recognition for Jack Potter

Jack Potter

As mentioned earlier this month, Jack Potter, Glacier National Park’s Chief of Science and Resources Management, retired on May 2 after 41 years with the Park Service. Recently, Headwaters Montana posted a very nice article discussing Jack’s career and accomplishments . . .

On May 2 of this year, Jack Potter retired after 41 years with Glacier National Park, one of the few National Park Service employees to spend his entire professional career in one place.  To many of us on the ‘outside’ of Glacier’s internal operations, Jack has been the conscience of the bureaucracy for Glacier’s safekeeping.  The future challenges and threats facing Glacier are many and  Jack’s vigilance and integrity will be hard to replace.  It is fair to ask, “Who will be the next Jack Potter for Glacier?”

Continue Reading . . .

Referenced in the above article was a lengthy Park Science profile published last March, shortly before Jack’s retirement . . .

Resource managers who stay in one national park for their entire career, building and refining their knowledge of the place, exercising judgment, sharing insights, and defending park values are a rare thing in the National Park Service. Thus, we explore the long-tenured career of Jack Potter in Glacier National Park, Montana, as a way to learn from his experience, help preserve institutional memory, and celebrate his special contribution to the National Park Service.

Continue Reading . . .

Glacier National Park’s Chief of Science and Resources Jack Potter retires

Jack Potter retired last Monday after 41 years at Glacier National Park! A no doubt big retirement potluck is scheduled for May 13. See the following press release for details of Jack’s career, as well as information on the potluck.

After 41 years of service in Glacier National Park, Chief of Science and Resources Management, Jack Potter retired on May 2nd. A potluck gathering will be held to celebrate his retirement in the West Glacier Community Building on Friday, May 13th, at 4:30 p.m.

In the summer of 1969, 19 year old Jack Potter took the train from western Pennsylvania to Glacier National Park to work as a bus boy at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Coffee Shop. The following summer he was hired on the park trail crew and over the next seven summers, he worked seasonally while studying political science at Colgate University and later forestry at University of Montana, becoming a trail crew leader in 1973. Following one summer away from the park, Potter started a permanent, subject-to-furlough position in 1978 as Hudson Bay District Trails Foreman. He was subsequently promoted to backcountry supervisor in 1984. In 1992, Potter took the position of Assistant Chief Ranger, supervising field resources. In 2003, he became assistant chief of the newly formed Science and Resources Management Division, and has served as the division chief since 2005.

Potter has received numerous awards including the Superior Service Award in 2007 from the Department of Interior and the National Park Service Intermountain Region Director’s Award in 2003 for Excellence in Natural Resource Management. Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright stated, “Jack Potter knows more about Glacier National Park than any person alive. He is the conscience of the park, and possesses an uncanny sense of what’s appropriate and what’s not. His passion for the job, and life in general, is infectious. Although I’ve never believed that any employee is irreplaceable, Jack Potter comes the closest of any person I’ve known. He will be sorely missed!”

Continue reading Glacier National Park’s Chief of Science and Resources Jack Potter retires