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Position description

Wilderness Fellow (Forest Service Oregon/Washington)

Title: Wilderness Fellow

Reports To: SWS National Program Director

Classification: Hourly

Location: Based out of Eugene, OR. Work can be done remotely, with 1-2 weeks travel to Oregon in the season. 

Start Date: May 1st, 2023

Time: Full Time (40hr/week), 1 year contract

Salary: 16$/hr

Benefits: 1 earned personal day per month (vacation is not eligible to be cashed out at any time) and federal holidays. 

Initial Application Review Begins: 02/24/2023

To Apply: Email a cover letter, resume, and 2 professional or academic references to Julia Cotter, Please include the position title and location you are applying for in the subject line of your email. 



The Society for Wilderness Stewardship (SWS) is a non-profit organization seeking to promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship, science, and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness.  In other words, we are a professional society working to set the standard for wilderness management.  


The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) For more than 100 years, the Forest Service has brought people and communities together to answer the call of conservation. The USFS seeks to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


Program Overview 

The Wilderness Fellows Program is a collaborative effort and was created in order to complete Wilderness Character Baseline Assessments, thereby continuing important assessment work that has been underway since 2001, and fulfilling the USFS Wilderness Stewardship Performance (WSP) element “Wilderness Character Baseline”. The Wilderness Character Baseline requires that steps be made to determine a baseline and provide the foundation for evaluating trends in wilderness character. These trends indicate the outcome of management actions and success at preserving wilderness character as directed by the Wilderness Act. 


As stated in Keeping It Wild 2: An Updated Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System (Landres et. al, 2015), “the results of wilderness character monitoring provide [agency staff who manage wilderness day-to-day, and regional and national staff who develop wilderness policy and assess its effectiveness] some of the key data they need to improve wilderness stewardship and wilderness policy.” The report goes on to say that, “Implementing this monitoring strategy does not guarantee the preservation of wilderness character, but it informs and improves wilderness stewardship, and ensures managers are accountable to the central mandate of the 1964 Wilderness act – to preserve wilderness character.” 

In 2001, the USFS Wilderness Monitoring Committee developed the first national framework for Wilderness Character Monitoring (WCM). Progression was attained by the USFS in 2006 with WCM pilot testing occurring in every USFS region and the publication of the Applying the Concept of Wilderness Character to National Forest Planning, Monitoring, and Management in 2008. 


After years of testing different monitoring protocols, the USFS and Aldo Leopold Research Institute published the Wilderness Character Monitoring Technical Guide in May of 2019. This document provides a national framework and detailed protocols to monitor trends in wilderness character in the Forest Service. Wilderness Fellows will apply the tools in the Technical Guide to complete wilderness character baseline assessments. 


Position Overview

The Wilderness Fellow Program is seeking qualified candidates to fill Wilderness Fellow positions. This fellow will work with staff on the Willamette National Forest to complete wilderness character baseline assessments for the wilderness areas around Eugene, OR.  Work is roughly 90% office based and 10% field based and can be done remotely, with some travel to the Willamette National Forest in the field season. Preference will be given to applicants living in the area, or with specific knowledge of the area.  Transportation for field work will be provided or reimbursed.  


Primary Wilderness Fellow Responsibilities

  • Attend one week training at Powell Ranger Station, near Missoula, Montana.  

  • Coordinate meetings with USFS resource specialists and line officers to gather information regarding wilderness character.

  • Research, compile and analyze legislative and administrative historical data per wilderness area. 

  • Travel to and into wilderness areas.  

  • Compile data for selected monitoring and complete components of a baseline assessment for wilderness character monitoring.

  • Implement inventory and monitoring strategies for tracking wilderness character.

  • Participate in weekly conference calls.

  • Set and meet benchmarks and deadlines for data collection, meetings, and draft and final reports.

  • Create a narrative report for each wilderness area worked in. 


Key Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field or work experience equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree. 

  • Educational background in Wilderness Management, Protected Area/Natural Resource Management, Recreation Resource Management, Conservation Social Science, Environmental Policy, Natural, Biological and/or Physical Science.

  • Deep interest in wilderness/resource management and the US Forest Service.

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills.

  • Research skill and attention to detail and organization.

  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively on projects, high degree of initiative.

  • Understanding and ability to use GIS software is a plus. 

  • Results-oriented with the ability to set and follow realistic goals and objectives.

  • Flexibility to adapt when faced with changing needs and priorities.

  • Ability to travel to training and remote field locations (travel provided), and to relocate if necessary (assistance not provided).  

  • Must have a valid driver's license and a clean driving record (documentation to be provided upon request). 


To Apply: Email a cover letter, resume, 1-2 page writing sample, and 2 professional or academic references to Julia Cotter, Please include the position title and location you are applying for in the subject line of your email. 


Essential Functions: Employees may be required to sit, stand, and lift objects up to 50 lbs.  Employees may be required to travel and camp in the backcountry, and to drive or fly to remote project locations.  


The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is an equal opportunity employer.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected status.

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