Illilouette Creek Basin, Yosemite National Park

Fire Ecology Field Technician & Botanist Positions Now Open

Job Description:

The Stephens Wildland Fire Lab at UC Berkeley is seeking a field crew of five employees to conduct fire ecology, forestry, botany, and bat acoustic surveys for the summer of 2023. The work will support several fire ecology studies and represent an opportunity to gain varied experience in some of California’s most dynamic and beautiful landscapes. 

Projects crews may expect to conduct field work for this season include, but are not limited to: 

Managed wildfire in Sierra Nevada Wilderness

The study will investigate how the restoration of wildland fire influences forest structure, aboveground carbon, and plant and bat biodiversity in Yosemite National Park. 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 and bat acoustic surveys will be conducted, including in areas burned in the 2022 Red Fire in Yosemite’s Illilouette Valley. 

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. Sampling efforts will include post-treatment inventorying for fuels, trees, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. 

Reburn Severity in Plumas National Forest

 The Stephens lab crew will work with some of our partners up in the Plumas National Forest  to investigate the effects of repeated fires on burn severity and post-fire recovery in the Northern Sierra Nevada. This study will expand on previous work by the USFS in the area assessing patterns and possible drivers of reburn fire severity.  Sampling will include fuels transects and vegetation assessments in areas burned in three successive fires, including in the footprint of the 2021 Dixie Fire.    


The crew will be hired for May through early August, with potential extension into September. We seek 4 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 will primarily consist of four- to eight-day excursions to remote and wilderness areas either as backpacking trips or front-country camping. Crew members must be able to carry a backpack weighing up to 50 pounds for up to 10 miles, have experience and willingness to work in inclement weather conditions, and be familiar with, or willing to learn, backcountry navigation and safety procedures.


Please apply by 1/21/2023 for full consideration. Interviews will occur in late January/early February and continue until applicants are selected. Please send cover letter, resume, and contact information for two references as a single PDF to hmfertel[at]berkeley.edu and alexis_bernal[at]berkeley.edu with the subject “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 $16.99-19/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.


The Stephens lab is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion and in fostering a sense of belonging for all its members. We will work to build field crew communities free of discrimination and harassment and expect all crew members to actively participate in fostering safe working environments for all.


Employee’s Qualifications

Candidates must have a strong interest and demonstrated skill in: fire, forests, shrubland, 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 (mosquitos and 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 safely.
  • 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

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