Conservation Ecologist

Santa Lucia Conservancy

Carmel, California

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $80,000-$95,000
Required Experience 7+ years

About Us

The Santa Lucia Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit land trust incorporated in 1995 to protect and steward in perpetuity the unique natural, cultural, and aesthetic values of the Santa Lucia Preserve. Located in the northern Santa Lucia Mountains near Carmel, CA, the Conservancy is dedicated to advancing the art and science of conservation-compatible development through adaptive land management, conservation easement stewardship, ecological research, and environmental education programs.

The Conservancy owns and manages through conservation easements 18,000 acres of land within the 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve to protect and enhance their extraordinary ecological values. In addition, the Conservancy works with a variety of academic and environmental partners to conduct and promote land management and ecological research to increase our understanding of local natural resources and the interactions between human communities and the natural environment.

Position Summary

Reporting to the Executive Director, and guided by the Santa Lucia Preserve Conditions of Approval and Resource Management Plan (1994), the Conservation Ecologist leads the implementation of a long-term monitoring program that supports the evaluation and maintenance of protected natural resources on the Preserve.

Primary Responsibilities

Primary responsibilities include ecological monitoring, applied research, and evaluation of the Conservancy’s biodiversity conservation and land management programs to ensure its practices follow the best available scientific and regulatory guidance. Reporting to the executive director and working in a highly collaborative work environment, the Conservation Ecologist has broad field-based skills and knowledge in the areas of habitat assessment, climate change adaptation, field research design and implementation, wildlife handling, species identification, writing and publications, fund development, and GIS analysis/mapping.

The Conservation Ecologist Primary responsiblities include but not limited to the following: 

Program Management and Development 

  • Working collaboratively with staff and consistent with the Santa Lucia Preserve Resource Management Plan (1994), maintains and manages the Conservancy’s long-term ecological monitoring and data management responsibilities.
  • Manages daily operations and annual budget of the Conservation Science Program.
  • Manages contracts and contractors associated with ecological monitoring.
  • Manages and sets goals for monitoring technicians, student interns/volunteers, postdoctoral fellows and academic partners on specific projects.
  • Manages data collection, entry, analysis, and utilization in land management decisions.
  • Participates in professional-development as relevant opportunities are presented.
  • Participates in board committee meetings and provides updates on program developments.

Ecological Monitoring 

  • Monitoring priorities include special-status species, habitat assessment, and adaptive land management using in-house climate change adaptation framework.
  • Provides direct and indirect support to Grazing Program Manager, Restoration Program Manager, and Stewardship Manager in carrying out mitigation and monitoring requirements found in the Santa Lucia Preserve Resource Management Plan (1994), Rancho San Carlos Forest Management Plan (1994), and Revised Rancho San Carlos Cattle Grazing and Livestock Management Plan (1998).  
  • Obtains necessary training and maintains currency in required USFWS and CDFW research permits and conducts annual reporting.
  • In collaboration with staff, ensures management projects follow environmental regulations.
  • Manages all data and keeps protocols up to date.
  • Maintains the Conservancy’s Conservation Resources database and provides consultation to Conservancy and Preserve staff and homeowners on conducting management or resource use near protected and sensitive areas.

Outreach and Partnerships 

  • Serves as the primary contact and reviewer for outside scientific research proposals to be carried out on the Preserve. Facilitates permission, access, supervision, and liability waivers to outside researchers, when appropriate.
  • Develops and maintains partnership endeavors with local universities, neighboring land managers, as well as State and Federal agencies.
  • Provides presentations and advisories to Preserve residents and staff. Acts as the primary contact for biological and wildlife-related questions by Preserve residents. Responds to landowners’ requests for information or consultation on natural resources.
  • Presents Conservancy’s scientific findings, methods, and views on ecological monitoring, management and restoration in scientific forums and community/public gatherings.
  • Develops and sustains positive relationships with government agencies, academic institutions, volunteers, other organizations, and local communities.

Funding Acquisition and Geographic Information Systems Support 

  • Researches and stays abreast of funding opportunities relevant to the Conservation Science Program and ecological management goals and objectives. Assists with grant formulation and administration for relevant opportunities.
  • Acts as professional support and writing role on grants pursued by any division of the Santa Lucia Conservancy on an ongoing basis.
  • Provides general GIS and remote sensing expertise and consultation to the organization on an occasional basis.


  • Advanced degree in ecology, wildlife management, conservation biology or another ecological science with a focus on applied landscape-related conservation issues.
  • Possession of USFWS and CDFW research permits for California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, and tri-colored blackbird highly desirable.
  • >3 years’ experience in applied ecological field research, resource management or a related field. Experience working in emergent wetlands and lacustrine systems highly desirable.
  • >3 years’ experience in the development and management of ecological monitoring and management programs.
  • Success with database management, quantitative statistical data analysis and GIS.
  • Demonstrated experience designing, implementing, and publishing results of field research projects for scientific and general audiences. A publishing track record of peer reviewed ecology papers highly desirable.
  • Strong natural history and botanical field identification skills and a willingness and ability to develop expertise in California ecology.
  • Well-developed and demonstrated communications, diplomacy, and project management skills.
  • Demonstrated versatility and innovation in applying conservation science priorities in alignment with an organization’s mission and resources.
  • Proven ability to network and maintain productive partnerships.
  • Experience communicating with a variety of audiences.
  • Experience with wildlife handling and/or bird banding expertise and/or experience with rangeland management and conservation grazing.
  • Demonstrated experience in ecological monitoring of management activities, such as prescribed fire or conservation grazing.
  • A sense of humor and appreciation for the inherent quirkiness of both nature and people.

Working Conditions/Physical Effort

  • Significant field work, occasional highly physical work and/or adverse working conditions in remote locations, long hours during peak field season(s), weekend work from time to time.
  • Driving and hiking in uneven terrain and working comfortably for extended periods in rugged outdoor conditions, including occasionally lifting and carrying at least 40 pounds are required.
  • Capacity to handle complex tasks under pressure and under time constraints.
  • Ability to work in variable weather conditions, remote locations and often in physically demanding circumstances.
  • A company vehicle will be available for work use.

This is a full-time, exempt position with no direct reports.

This job description does not constitute an employment agreement between employer and employee, and is subject to change by the employer, as the needs of the employer and requirements of the job changes.


Santa Lucia Conservancy offers a competitive benefit package including health, dental, vision, FSA, and life insurance, a 401(k) with up to a 6% employer match, 12 paid holidays, vacation, and paid sick leave. 

Competitive compensation package commensurate with experience and requisite knowledge, skills and abilities.

The annual salary range for this position is $80,000 to $95,000.


To apply submit a cover letter, resume, and the name and contact information (email & phone) of three professional references. A single PDF file is preferred.

Direct your application to Jamison Watts, Executive Director, jwatts@slconservancy.org.  Please put the position title, Conservation Ecologist, in the email subject line.

Applicants should apply by the priority deadline of March 24, 2023, in order to ensure consideration. Position open until filled.

Applications should include:

  • Cover letter describing your skills and personal connection to land
  • Resume and salary requirements
  • Up to three personal and/or professional
  • (Optional )Writing samples that you believe showcase your qualifications for this position(excerpts from reports or peer-reviewed ecology papers).

No phone calls, no walk-ins, no recruiters.

The Conservancy is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment. Application by members of all underrepresented groups is encouraged. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the U.S.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology, Land Trust, Wildlife, General / Stewardship
Tags GIS, Ornithology, Climate Change