The Great Basin Institute is an interdisciplinary field studies organization that promotes environmental research, education, and service through the west. The Institute’s mission is to advance applied science and ecological literacy through community engagement and agency partnerships, supporting national parks, forest, open spaces and public lands.
The Ecological Monitoring Program at GBI serves as an excellent professional development opportunity for natural resource professionals looking for experience in botanical, soil, and rangeland surveys. This Program is a component of our well-established Research Associate Program, which focuses on the conservation and management of natural, cultural, and recreation resources in the Intermountain West while providing emerging professionals opportunities to begin or enhance their careers.
GBI’s Ecological Monitoring Program is dedicated to providing college graduates and emerging professionals with hands-on survey, inventory, monitoring, and reporting experience in natural resource management. Extensive training and technical field skills development provides employees a unique opportunity to obtain valuable experience in executing monitoring protocols that will increase their employment success.
In one component of the Program, participants implement the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) strategy for terrestrial systems, targeted at collecting standardized ecological information and long-term vegetation data at multiple scales across western BLM districts. In some instances participants may perform supplemental protocols such as Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH) and Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF) (to inform conservation approaches for sage-grouse). Supplemental sampling may also include collecting data on forb diversity, annual production and pollinators, among other indicators. Select locations will apply AIM sampling to post-wildfire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) monitoring.
This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LciTBPG2-Ss&feature=youtu.be) highlights the national BLM AIM strategy for landscape-scale data capture across western states.
GBI is recruiting Ecological Monitoring Field Technicians to work with GBI and BLM staff. Each Field Tech will work with one other technician under the supervision of a Field Lead to characterize vegetation using the terrestrial AIM core methods. In some instances, Describing/Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (D/IIRH), Habitat Assessment Framework (HAF), and/or other supplemental protocols will be performed, for which training will be provided. Aside from core AIM sampling, any supplemental protocols implemented will vary by location.
Duties include following established field protocols to perform vegetation sampling and field data collection at new and existing sampling plots. Data will be used by resource specialists and land managers to inform decisions regarding land management at various temporal and spatial scales. During field work, car camping for 7 night “hitches” in remote locations will typically be required.
Depending on performance and completion of work term this position can qualify for Public Lands Corps (PLC) status given that the applicant is 30 years old or younger at the time of GBI employment. This status will last two years from the end of GBI employment.
Field work will include:
- Maintaining safety awareness and practices;
- Extensive 4×4 driving on unmaintained roads;
- Navigating off-trail to sampling sites;
- Establishing sampling plots and transects;
- Identifying and describing soil horizons to help verify ecological site descriptions (ESDs);
- Collecting vegetation data (including species inventory, forb diversity, species abundance, sagebrush shape, foliar cover, canopy gap, and herbaceous and woody heights);
- Making qualitative range assessments; and
- Taking photo-points.
Additional duties include:
- Regular communication with GBI support staff and agency staff;
- Participation in GBI and agency trainings;
- Entering data into both Arc Collector and Survey 123 software;
- Identifying plants to species using dichotomous keys; and
- Employing extensive QA/QC data checks.
Total approximate compensation: $2910/month before taxes (approximate hourly equivalent: $18.19/hour), plus health insurance (monthly premiums fully paid by GBI) and paid time off.
- $15.00 per diem for every night camping (up to 7 units in an 8 day work week)
- $150 bi-weekly housing stipend*
- Health insurance including vision and dental
- Paid federal holidays
- Paid personal time off (amount dependent on contract length)
- Paid bi-weekly
*Housing stipend is untaxed and can be used at the discretion of the applicant. Housing is not provided. Applicants must be able to provide their own lodging.
Locations and Tentative Timelines:
Locations and timelines listed below are tentative, some with potential for extension. Crews will be based out of either the Las Vegas or Reno GBI Offices but work in the following BLM Field Office (FO’s) areas:
California (crews based out of Reno, NV but working in CA):
- Ukiah, California; March – July 2021
- Bishop, California; April – September 2021
Nevada (crews based out of Reno or Las Vegas):
- Reno, NV; April to October 2021 (potential for several crews to begin earlier)
- Las Vegas, NV; February to July or September 2021
Experience, education, or a combination of the two in natural resources and field data collection to meet one or both of the following:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences, such as: Botany, Wildlife Biology, Range Ecology, Natural Resources Management, Environmental Resources or related subject;
- Minimum of 1 year field data collection
- Coursework or equivalent experience in plant taxonomy and/or systematics;
- Experience identifying plants in the field and using a dichotomous key;
- Experience in describing and identifying soil horizons preferred;
- Experience conducting plant surveys using various monitoring protocols, including standard rangeland monitoring protocols, photo plots, and site observations;
- Experience with data entry and management;
- Ability to read, interpret and navigate using topographic maps;
- Experience safely operating 4WD trucks on paved and unpaved roads, often in remote areas on unimproved roads;
- Experience navigating and collecting coordinates with hand-held GPS units;
- Experience creating maps and performing basic functions with GIS software (ArcMap), preferred;
- Experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access); and
- Experience with Arc Collector, Survey 123, and ArcGIS Online.
- Willingness and ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic setting, and to consistently enact high performance standards and a strong work and team ethic in support of the goals and objectives of the AIM program and the mission of GBI;
- Valid, state-issued driver’s license and clean driving record;
- Familiarity with native and invasive plants of the sampling area and associated natural resource issues preferred;
- Ability to work productively as part of a team to accomplish mutual goals;
- Ability to work independently;
- Ability to communicate effectively with team members, agency staff, and a diverse public;
- Excellent organizational skills;
- Familiarity with best practices for field safety and Leave No Trace principles;
- Experience in and willingness to spend multiple days camping in the field;
- Flexibility with position location within field district offices
- Willingness to work irregular hours (e.g., early mornings, late nights); and
- Ability to work in harsh and rapidly changing environments, work in all types of weather conditions, traverse uneven terrain, carry upwards of 40 pounds in a backpack, and otherwise maintain good physical condition.