Crew Lead: Vegetation Monitoring on Colorado's Western Slope
Locations in Colorado:
Tres Rios BLM Field Office in Dolores (1 position)*
Uncompahgre BLM Field Office in Montrose (3 positions)* †
Grand Junction BLM Field Office (1 position)*
April 3, 2023-November 3, 2023*
April 3, 2023-March 29, 2024†
- $765 to $805+/week depending on experience
- Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Recertification (or reimbursement if course was paid personally and taken after March 2022)
- $16/day food allowance while camping in the field with crew collecting data
- Health benefits package that comes into effect on the 1st of the calendar month after the first 60 days
- Paid days of personal leave and sick leave
- Uniform shirts
- Other supplemental development funds (amount TBD)
Hiring Benefits: Public Land Corps Hiring Authority: a noncompetitive hiring status for consideration when applying to competitive service positions for a federal agency. Eligible to be used for two years upon completion of term. Must be under age 31 upon issue of certificate.
Southwest Conservation Corps’s Mission
It is the mission of the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to empower individuals to positively impact their lives, their communities, and the environment.
Bureau of Land Management’s Mission
The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Crews conduct vegetation monitoring using the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Terrestrial Assessment, Inventory, & Monitoring (AIM) methodology. More information on the BLM’s AIM strategy can be found on the AIM website: http://aim.landscapetoolbox.org/. Crews typically consist of three individuals: two crew members and one crew lead. Together, they monitor land health (i.e., soil and vegetation) on BLM lands including National Monument lands, vegetation treatments, burn scars, rangeland allotments, or reference areas using AIM methodology.
Crews undergo extensive technical training and orientation to SCC culture for the first 4+ weeks in the Field Office and at sites on the CO western slope. The rest of the term is typically routine, with the goal to sample a target number of plots using the AIM methodology.
Within all plots, the crew identify vegetation to species, gather species cover and composition data using line-point intercept and gap measurements, measure soil stability, and describe the site and soil pits (50%). All data are georeferenced and stored in an ArcGIS geodatabase. Data are entered into a database on site with ruggedized tablets to be later synthesized into various reports for future land management planning. The crew may also assist with other public land management projects involving wildlife, range, recreation, rare plant monitoring, or forestry (5%), contingent on sampling productivity and BLM staff availability.
Crews maintain and track botanical specimens of known and unknown species throughout the field season and keep records updated as needed. The crew lead will continuously learn the local flora and build botanical knowledge. The crew lead should be curious about the soils, botanical, and other natural systems and have a passion to grow and share that curiosity and knowledge with fellow crew member(s).
Crews are based out of BLM Field Office buildings, and will be under the direct mentorship and technical guidance of BLM staff personnel. This position uniquely provides the opportunity to develop relationships within and become familiar with the workings of the agency.
Fieldwork is in remote areas. Crews are required to drive a company or government vehicle to several different areas of the Field Office and hike several miles per day, off trail, carrying equipment (25%) throughout a “hitch”. Hitches are typically 10 hour days, either 8 days on/6 days off or 4 days on/3 days off. They usually camp multiple nights and share camp meals and chores. One should be personally prepared to occasionally visit the field only for a day trip, returning to town that night in preparation for the next work day. Camping out as the default is expected. Some crews camp more than others due to various factors. An unconventional schedule and a level of flexibility are necessary to be successful.
Crews return to the office for equipment and data management, unknown plant identification, and field work planning (20%).
Housing is not provided, but we are glad to talk through your options with you in the interview and onward. Certain BLM FOs have limited partially subsidized housing or domicile parking available. For those lacking personal camping gear, we may be able to loan you gear.
As we are a partnership with a federal agency, we are subject to halting work and pay in the case of a government shutdown, and backpay is not typical.
Crew Lead’s Responsibilities
The Crew Lead takes ownership of, supports, and manages the field crew’s risk management, schedule, scientific integrity, efficiency, and professional development. Plans accordingly to reach sampling volume target by end of field season. Consistently exercises discretion and judgment. Coordinates and delegates field logistics, hitch plans, food budget scheduling, crew tasks, debriefs, and management of the crew’s equipment. Provides and asks for feedback to and from crew members regarding performance.
The Crew Lead is the primary contact between the crew and the SCC supervisor and the crew and BLM staff. Completes administrative tasks. Holds a company credit card and documents spending. Before, during, and after field data collection, the Lead is responsible for the organization and quality control of all AIM data collected in Field Maps for ArcGIS.
At the end of the season, the Crew Lead may analyze, interpret, or make deductions for varying data, and will report data to various BLM offices and stakeholders. Especially in the longer contracts, written reports are completed and involve the presentation of scientific data and pre/post treatment analysis. The Crew Lead should be passionate about sound science principles and plant identification, be an advocate for the AIM program in the Field Office, and have a willingness to learn about how AIM data could be used in range, forestry, fire and wildlife programs within the BLM. The crew lead should be passionate about facilitating the crew members’ experience similarly.
- College graduate (Bachelor’s, at minimum) with coursework in ecology, botany, range science, soil science, wildlife biology, natural resource management, conservation biology, environmental studies, or a related field
- Aged at least 21 years upon hire
- Able to produce identification as stipulated by I-9 upon hire
- Valid US driver's license and insurable driving record
- Able to pass Conservation Legacy’s and the Department of Interior’s background checks
- Proof of full vaccination against SARS-COV-2 by start date
- Physically capable of standing, walking (at a minimum 6 miles/day on rough, uneven terrain), bending, crouching, and stooping for long periods of time, and lifting/carrying items that weigh up to 40 pounds, in upwards of 100 degree (F) heat while maintaining attention to detail and overall positive attitude
- Experience navigating and hiking steep, challenging, off-trail terrain using a handheld GPS or maps and compass for route-finding
- Able to rapidly learn and organize the names of dozens of plants per week, especially in the beginning of the season
- Experience with (digital, preferred) data collection and Microsoft Suite software, or similar
- Basic statistics knowledge
- Excellent communication (including in-person, email, and phone), organizational, and planning skills
- Self-motivated and able to work independently with limited supervision after the initial training period, with excellent discernment of when to ask for help
- Willing to empower crew members to improve in performing their duties and developing personally and professionally
- Experience spending multiple days (up to 8) making day trips and car-camping in remote areas
- Willing to learn, teach, and adhere to best practices for field safety, comfort, and Leave No Trace principles
- Can spend several hours per day and/or per week riding in, navigating with, and driving a four-wheel drive pick-up truck on- and off-highway, sometimes over/around tricky or unexpected obstacles
- Excellent judgment in assessing physical, mental, and emotional risk
- Able to safely and effectively work in and around adverse conditions including extreme heat, monsoonal rains, wildfire smoke, and hazardous wildlife (i.e. rattlesnakes, scorpions, biting/stinging insects, cattle, and horses)
- Possessing or able to cultivate: self-awareness, desire for a positive crew culture, and excitement at the chance to have a close experience with the land
- Experience in leadership, facilitation, teaching, or conflict management
- Experience in vegetation or rangeland health assessments, botanical inventory, or standardized ecological monitoring
- Familiarity with local flora or identifying plants to species in the field, from photos, taxonomic keys, and/or pressed specimens
- Experience texturing soil by hand, characterizing soil pits, and identifying soil series or ecological sites based on observational and quantitative data
- Experience safely operating 4WD trucks on paved and unpaved roads, often in remote areas on unimproved roads
- Experience navigating with handheld GPS units
- Experience with mobile data collection using Field Maps for ArcGIS and Survey123 apps
- Experience with ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcGIS Online interface
- Proficient knowledge of statistical principles and programs, especially R
- Knowledge of creating maps, performing basic analysis, and organizing data
- Field safety and risk management training or experience
- Experience working or recreating in desert or rangeland ecosystems
Public Land Corps:
The Public Land Corps program provides the opportunity for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 years to work on conservation projects on public lands. Participants must successfully complete 640 hours that include at least 120 hours on federal lands through the PLC. PLC members are not federal government employees, but those who successfully complete the PLC requirements are then eligible to use, for two years, a noncompetitive hiring status for consideration when applying to competitive service positions.
To apply, go to the position announcement
and click "APPLY" at bottom.
We accept applicants with a range of backgrounds. This entry-level position is part of a developmental program that receives plenty of support. In your application, please write about how your experiences, personality, and motivations could make you a great fit, even if you don’t think you are the conventional candidate.
Application involves 1) cover letter, 2) resume/CV, 3) at least two academic or professional, non-peer references, and 4) screening questions.
No letter of recommendation is needed. Incomplete applications are given less weight. Please apply with your full legal name, preferred name, and pronouns.
SCC offers several Ecological Monitoring crew positions across Colorado and New Mexico, mostly performing the terrestrial AIM methodology. If interested in multiple locations, please mention and rank location (dis)interest in both the application questionnaire and cover letter. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
We are accepting applications and offering interviews now. Feel free to reach out to Ecological Monitoring Program Manager Cassandra Owen (she/her/hers) at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.