Illilouette Creek Basin, Yosemite National Park

Forest and Fire Ecology Field Technician Positions Now Open

Job Description:

The Stephens Wildland Fire Lab at UC Berkeley is seeking a field crew of four employees to conduct fire ecology, forestry, botany, and bat acoustic surveys for the summer of 2021. The work will support two fire ecology studies and represent an opportunity to gain varied experience in some of California’s most dynamic and beautify landscapes.

Project 1: Amah Mutsun Monitoring in San Vicente Redwoods

The Stephens lab crew will work in partnership with Amah Mutsun Land Trust Stewards to monitor the effects of post-fire fuel treatments of varying intensities on forest health, botany, archaeobiology, pathology, and entomology. The study area is based in mixed hardwood forests in the San Vicente Redwoods Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which burned in the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire. The spectrum of canopy closure resulting from the planned treatments is anticipated to provide opportunities for study of various ethnobotanical resources and forest health metrics following fuel reduction in 2021 and subsequent prescribed burning.  Plots will be inventoried for fuels, trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation.

Project 2: Managed wildfire in Sierra Nevada Wilderness

The study will investigate how the restoration of wildland fire in long fire-excluded areas influences forest structure, aboveground carbon, and plant and bat biodiversity in Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness of the Sierra National Forest. Yosemite National Park has a nearly 50-year history of restoring natural fire for ecological benefit. Restoration of natural wildfire patterns through managed wildfire are being expanded to other areas including the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Results from this study may guide policy and fire management strategies in the Sierra Nevada intended to increase ecosystem resilience in a rapidly changing world. Backcountry forest inventories will be conducted along with acoustic monitoring of bat populations.

The crew will be hired for May through early August, with potential extension into September. We seek 3 technicians plus one experienced botanist. One crew member will also serve as crew leader. The crew will assist in field preparation, data management, and data collection. Work on project 1 will occur during May and June. Work on project 2 will occur June – August and consist of five- to eight-day backpacking trips into each wilderness area. Crew members must be able to carry a backpack weighing up to 50 pounds for six miles, and be familiar with, or willing to learn, backcountry navigation and safety procedures.


The application period is from 1/19/2021 to 2/1/2021. Interviews will occur between 2/2/2021 and 2/15/2021 and continue until applicants are selected. Employees will be selected by 3/1/2021. Please send cover letter, resume, and contact information for two references as a single PDF to zlsteel[at]berkeley.edu with the subject “Forest & Fire Ecology Position”. Please specify whether you are applying for a technician and/or botanist position and whether you would like to be considered for the role of crew leader. Pay rate will be approximately $16-18/hour, depending on prior experience and demonstrated ability to lead a field crew. Additional information can be found at https://nature.berkeley.edu/stephenslab/ or by email inquiry. University of California students (including graduating seniors) are especially encouraged to apply.

Employee’s Qualifications

Candidates must have a strong interest and demonstrated skill in: fire, forests, and/or wildlife ecology, and data management; Attention to detail and on-the-fly problem solving in the field, with computers, and in a team setting; Inter-personal skills and desire to work in a team; Backpacking for many days at a time; Spending long physically challenging hours in the field, often in rough terrain and variable weather conditions; Enjoying the perks of backcountry field work (alpine sun-sets and swimming in creeks) and hardships (bushwhacking through shrublands) alike.

Required qualifications

  • Coursework in either forestry, botany, wildlife, fire ecology, or related fields
  • Strong teamwork skills, ability to work well with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and flexibility are a must.
  • Must be able to operate a vehicle.
  • Basic equipment and data management skills.
  • Flexibility will be essential; schedules will be variable across the season due to different responsibilities and project priorities.
  • Adherence to COVID-related public health and UC Berkeley guidelines

Preferred qualifications

  • We prefer candidates with wilderness experiences including, but not restricted to backpacking.
  • Medical training such as Wilderness First Responder, and experience applying these skills in wilderness settings.
  • For technician positions, at least two full years of undergraduate work completed
  • For botanist position, practical botany experience especially with Sierra Nevada plants, or demonstrated ability to quickly gain proficiency identifying new plants to species
  • Leadership or managerial experience, especially in field situations