Environment Ecological Monitoring Vegetation Soil Scientist
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 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.
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.
This project is working within the BLM California Desert District (CDD) and in addition to collecting standard AIM data, this project will assist the NRCS with soil mapping and ecological site development at sites within the DRECP/CDD designs. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is focused on 10.8 million acres of public lands in the desert regions of seven California counties – Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. It is a landscape-level plan that streamlines renewable energy development while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities.
More information on the DRECP can be found here:
GBI is recruiting two Ecological Monitoring Soil Scientists to work with GBI and BLM staff. Each Soil Scientist will coordinate a field crew (one Soil Scientist will supervise one Soil Technician). Each soil crew will collect a NASIS (National Soil Information System) quality Soil Pit Description. This is in effort to assist the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) with soil mapping and ecological site development in the hot deserts of California. Soil crews will complete a comprehensive soil pit description at each site, within the DRECP (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan)/CDD (California Desert District) designs, using the NRCS Soil Pedon Description Form 232. This will be done at randomized sample locations across the DRECP/CDD areas where standard AIM data is also being collected by a separate dedicated vegetation crew.
In addition, the soil crew will also collect soil sample voucher collections for three specified plots determined by the BLM.
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 certificate allows for non-competitive status for future federal job applications and 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;
• Digging a NASIS (National Soil Information System) Quality Soil Pit- minimum of 100cm and up to 200cm or contact with bedrock.
• Digging time can potentially take more than three hours.
• Completing NRCS Soil Pedon Descriptions using NRCS Form 232.
• Collecting traditional AIM soil data by identifying and describing soil horizons
• Digging soil pits, delineating soil horizons, identifying soil texture classes using the hand texturing method, and describing soil structure
• Collecting soil sample vouchers
• 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 Field Maps and Survey 123 software;
• Managing ArcGIS Online databases;
• Employing extensive QA/QC data checks; and
• Supporting and managing a field crew;
• Coordinating field logistics and scheduling; and
• Report writing and completing administrative paperwork
• $1,800-2,120 bi-weekly salary (Depending on experience)
• $150 bi-weekly housing stipend*
• $15 per diem for every night camped in the field (up to 7 units in an 8-day work week)
• $32.30/month cell phone stipend
• Affordable Care Act Compliant Health insurance including vision and dental provided at no cost to the employee starting the first day of the month following employment start date.
• Paid federal holidays
• Paid personal time off (amount dependent on contract length)
*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 timelines listed below are tentative, some with potential for extension.
Crews will be based out of the Las Vegas GBI Office but work in the following BLM Field Office (FO’s) areas.
Southern California Project:
• Southern California Desert District/ Bishop
• February 14th-July 8th
• 2-person soils monitoring only crews
• Leadership experience, including supervising field crews and managing projects simultaneously. (preferred)
• Bachelor’s degree with a major in soil science or a related discipline. The study must include 30 semester hours or equivalent in biological, physical, or earth science, including a minimum of 15 hours in such subjects as soil genesis, pedology, soil chemistry, soil physics, and soil fertility.
• Combination of education and experience-courses equivalent to a major in soil science or a related discipline that include at least 30 semester hours in the biological, physical, or earth sciences. At least 15 of these semester hours must be in the areas specified above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.
• Certification: any of the 4 certifications from the Soil Science Society of America
• Familiarity and experience with the methods necessary for completing NRCS Form 232
• Familiarity with the USDA Soil classification Keys to Soil Taxonomy
• Familiarity of the primary soil orders found in the Mojave desert are the Aridisols, Inceptisols and Entisols.
• Familiarity with NRCS soils databases and Ecological Site Descriptions concepts
• Experience conducting soils surveys, digging soil pits, delineating soil horizons, identifying soil texture classes using the hand texturing method, and describing soil structure
• Experience with data entry and management;
• Experience with technical writing and/or producing written project summary reports;
• 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);
• Experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access); and
• Experience with Field Maps, 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;
• Willingness to mentor and foster professional development for members of your crew;
• 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;
• Ability to accurately complete administrative tasks on time i.e. timesheet, paperwork, etc;
• Excellent organizational skills;
• Familiarity with best practices for field safety and Leave No Trace principles;
• Experience in and willingness to spend up to seven consecutive nights camping with no amenities in remote locations;
• 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.
How to ApplyPlease apply online at: https://www.vscyberhosting.com/greatbasin/careers.aspx?rf=ADVENTUREJOBS&req=2021-AIM-007
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