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APGAR - Ten days ago, Chas Cartwright saw Glacier National Park for the first time in 33 years.

The first time he was here, he was a tourist.

This time, he comes back as the boss.

Cartwright was installed Wednesday as Glacier's new superintendent, replacing Mick Holm, who retired in January after six years in Glacier and 32 with the Park Service.

"This is my last assignment," the 58-year-old Cartwright told about 100 people at an afternoon ceremony. "But I have not come here to retire."

The installation is an informal event designed to let Cartwright introduce himself and meet people involved with Glacier. The afternoon gathering was open to the public; a similar one Wednesday morning was for park employees.

Mike Snyder, intermountain regional director for the Park Service, predicted Cartwright's appointment will satisfy what people asked for in a new superintendent.

"As I listened, the strongest advice I got was that you wanted another Mick Holm," Snyder said. "Someone who will work with the communities around the park, listen to employees, and offer open, transparent decision-making."

Cartwright said his top priority is establishing good working relationships with National Park Service employees, people and groups involved with Glacier, and the communities that sit near the park.

"I like meeting everybody," Cartwright said. "And the common ground we share is that we all love this place."

Cartwright arrives in Glacier after serving as superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Since 1989, he has also been superintendent at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota, and Hovenweep National Monument in Utah and Colorado.

Cartwright has also served as acting superintendent at Carlsbad Canyons National Park in New Mexico and Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, and been an associate to the National Park Service deputy director in Washington, D.C.

"We loved our time in Virginia," Cartwright said. "But this is coming home. Once we crossed the Mississippi River it was a relief, and as we traveled closer and closer it kept getting better and better. To say Lynda (his wife) and I are pleased to be back West is an understatement."

Cartwright arrives just in time for the 75th anniversary of Glacier's engineering marvel, Going-to-the-Sun Road, and will serve as master of ceremonies at an event at Lake McDonald Lodge on Friday to commemorate the first opening of the popular drive (see information box) in 1933.

A native of Detroit and graduate of Michigan State University, Cartwright has worked for the federal government for 36 years, and for the Park Service since 1987.

His first job with the Park Service was as the first archeologist hired at Canyonlands and Arches National Park, and Natural Bridges National Monument.

Cartwright hiked into Sperry Chalet earlier this week, and said he also "crawled up in a Forest Service lookout and got a nice view back into the park."

"I can't wait to get out and see everything else," he said. "But my No. 1 priority is to get to know you."

His only other time at Glacier National Park, he said, came in 1975, when he was staying at Placid Lake and drove up to visit.

At Glacier, Cartwright will be responsible for the management of more than 1 million acres, a staff of more than 150 and an annual operating budget of more than $12 million.

He said his philosophy is that "this is a public place, and these are public resources," and his goal is to offer "good resource management, and good visitor experiences. That's just good business."

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 406-319-2117 or at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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