Q&A: New Flathead NF supervisor talks Holland Lake, grizzlies, staffing and more

The worn-in leather saddle and other wilderness-themed memorabilia in Anthony Botello’s Kalispell office belie its business park-like setting between a highway and a field that’s been converted to grow houses. But the saddle is no mere decoration: Botello designed it himself and had it custom made by hand when he graduated college in California in 1991. 

And then he set off to the Idaho wilderness, embarking on a Forest Service career that wound over the years through multiple national forests, wildfire assignments, wilderness ranger work and advancement through the agency to district ranger and deputy forest supervisor positions.

Now, 33 years after he packed all of his belongings into a Ford Ranger pickup — saddle included — he’s the new forest supervisor of the 2.4-million-acre Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana. He started the position at the beginning of the year, taking over the forest from an interim supervisor who had the job for about six months after former Supervisor Kurt Steele’s tenure ended amid controversy over Holland Lake Lodge.

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Botello agreed to an hour-long interview with a Missoulian reporter when he was about three months into the job. 


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