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Position description

Wilderness Fellow (Forest Service Region 9)

Title: Wilderness Fellow

Reports To: SWS National Program Director

Location: The Fellow will work on Wilderness areas across 4 national forests, including the Allegheny National
Forest, the Hoosier National Forest, the Shawnee National Forest, and the Mark Twain National Forest, this
position is remote, with possibility for travel to some of these National Forests.
Start Date: 07/10/23
Time: Full Time (40 hours), 9 month contract

Salary: 15$/hr

Benefits: 1/2 earned personal day per 80 hours worked, paid federal holidays, and eligible for enrollment
in a simple IRA with 3% employer match

Application Review Begins: 02/24/2023

To Apply: Email a cover letter, resume, 1-2 page writing sample, and 3 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, designed to increase capacity for the USFS in wilderness stewardship related tasks. Fellows work on a variety of wilderness stewardship projects, including putting together 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
Fellows are based in locations around the country, with a some amount of travel within their base region. Work is roughly 90% office-based and 10% field-based and is performed in collaboration with USFS offices to support the goals of a wilderness character monitoring initiative currently underway in the USFS


Primary Responsibilities
● Lead the project to produce Wilderness Character Baseline Assessments for several Wilderness areas in
the Midwest. Coordinate with Forest Service staff, partners and others, write the assessments, set overall
project timelines and goals.
● 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.
● Select indicators relevant for each wilderness area to monitor wilderness character over time.
● Compile and analyze data for selected monitoring indicators and complete a baseline assessment for
wilderness character monitoring.
● Implement inventory and monitoring strategies for tracking wilderness character.
● Write a wilderness character baseline assessment for each wilderness area worked in.
● Participate in weekly conference calls.
● Set and meet benchmarks and deadlines for data collection, meetings, and draft and final reports.


Key Qualifications
● Bachelor’s degree in a related field.
● 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 U.S. 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, a high degree of initiative.
● Understanding and the ability to use GIS 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.
● Proficiency with Microsoft Office, comfort with technology.

● Ability to travel to remote field locations (travel provided), and to relocate if necessary (assistance not
● Must have a valid driver's license and a clean driving record (documentation to be provided upon

To Apply: Email a resume, cover letter, a one-to-two page writing sample, and three professional or academic references to Julia Cotter at: Please include the position you are interested in that email subject line of the email.

Essential Functions: Employee may be required to sit, stand, and lift objects up to 50 lbs. Employee may be required to travel and camp in the backcountry, and to drive 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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