Director of Forestry or Lead Forester

Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative

Salida, Colorado

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $60,320-79,040 per year

Posted Date: May 20, 2024

Closing Date: Open until filled; early applications are encouraged

Work Arrangement: Hybrid position based in the Arkansas River Basin, some office work and travel required

Job Classification: Full-Time, Hourly (Non-Exempt)

Location: Salida, Colorado (or nearby community)

Supervisor: Executive Director

Compensation Range:

Director of Forestry - $32-38/hour ($66,560-$79,040/year)

Lead Forester - $29-35/hour ($60,320-$72,800/year)

Position Overview

The Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative (ARWC) seeks a motivated individual to direct and advance ARWC’s robust forestry program. Reporting to the Executive Director (ED), the Director of Forestry (DF) supports ARWC’s mission through the vision and development of large-scale projects and collaborations designed to increase the pace, scale, and impact of forest health work in the Arkansas River Basin. The DF collaborates with a diverse suite of partners to encourage resilient and healthy landscapes where we live, work, and recreate.

About Us

ARWC champions watershed health initiatives for economic, ecological, and societal benefit throughout Colorado’s Arkansas River Basin. We create resilient and healthy watersheds, build networks of informed and active community members, and provide expertise and support in the wake of wildfires. Together, we're not just envisioning—we're actively building—a sustainable legacy for the Arkansas River Basin. Discover more at arkcollaborative.org.

Core Responsibilities

Leadership, Strategy, and Impact

  • With the ED, develop a vision and strategy and provide guidance to strategically grow ARWC’s forestry program and accomplish critical forest health projects throughout the basin.
  • Function as the primary point of contact for existing and new partnerships, focusing on enhancing collaborative efforts to increase the pace and scale of forest health project implementation.
  • Engage with a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, landowners, researchers, and community groups to achieve wildfire risk reduction goals across wide geographical areas.
  • Pursue funding opportunities in collaboration with ARWC staff and partners, including grant writing and fundraising from key stakeholders.
  • Explore, develop, and implement sustainable mitigation programs, innovative forest health treatments, and slash management ideas in collaboration with communities.

Program Management

  • Lead the development and implementation of forestry program projects through their full life cycle - project visioning and development, budget creation and management, contract administration, quality and deliverable assurance, and safety.
  • Manage contractors and conduct site visits to determine project efficacy and to ensure compliance with funder requirements.
  • Hire, train, and supervise staff and contractors as needed to maintain effective forestry program.
  • Oversee the collection and management of project data and provide reports and data to funding organizations on a regular basis.
  • Serve as ARWC’s forestry specialist, providing technical and educational information to the board, staff, partners, and the community through presentations, reports, and tours.
  • Utilize current technologies to streamline field data collection, data analysis, project monitoring, and data management.

Administrative & Other Duties

  • Work with the ED and board to develop and continually monitor the forestry program budget.
  • Supervise other staff on forestry-related projects in the field and office.
  • Assist with the development of grants and other relevant fundraising activities.

Our ideal applicant:

  • Holds a minimum of a Master’s degree in forestry or a related field (or equivalent experience)
  • Has at least five years of relevant experience leading forestry projects in a collaborative environment.
  • Has a friendly and diplomatic personality with the ability to quickly establish rapport and develop trust-based relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Has experience in environmental collaboration and conflict resolution or has demonstrated experience in a role of connector, convener, and collaborator, engaging with a diverse spectrum of stakeholders to align shared goals and achieve a unified vision and approach.
  • Has a history of successful project and program management.
  • Is skilled at managing multiple tasks and projects and is capable of meeting deadlines in a fast-paced and demanding environment.
  • Has demonstrated knowledge of forest health treatment prescriptions in multiple forest and terrain types found in the Arkansas Basin.
  • Has experience developing and managing large grant-funded projects.
  • Has experience fundraising.
  • Has experience with Microsoft Office, Google Suite, and other typical office software.
  • Possesses the physical ability to hike through Colorado's varied landscapes and travel via vehicle over rough terrain, sometimes in remote locations and in varying weather conditions.
  • Is able and willing to work in various settings, including office, vehicle, and outdoors, and be able to carry up to 50 pounds for 100 feet.
  • Possesses a valid driver’s license and be open to travel using a personal vehicle, as necessary, to perform work-related activities (travel expenses are reimbursed).
  • Is proficient with ESRI, GPS, and data collection apps (ArcGIS Collector, Survey123) and has experience with online platforms for grant applications and report submissions.

Applicants for Lead Forester

We are willing to consider this position as a Director of Forestry or a Lead Forester (LF), depending on experience and our selection of candidates. Please note that a LF will have fewer responsibilities related to program visioning and strategy, overseeing staff, fundraising, and developing and managing large grants. Please note in your application which position you wish to apply for.

Joining ARWC means…

  • A chance to be part of a small but mighty team with opportunities to grow and learn.
  • A significant role in a nonprofit that’s making a tangible impact on the Arkansas River Basin’s future.
  • A position with travel and the flexibility of a hybrid work arrangement


To best serve the needs of our basin, ARWC employees are located throughout the organization’s service territory. Staff work from home offices and travel to project sites when necessary. We also have dedicated office space at Colorado Mountain College in Salida, Colorado. Forestry projects occur throughout the basin and current focus areas include Lake County, Teller County, and the Wet Mountains region. The successful candidate will be expected to relocate to the Arkansas Basin within six months. Relocation assistance may be available to highly qualified candidates.

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time, hourly position with an average of 40 hours/week. Compensation is commensurate with qualifications and experience, but we anticipate hiring between $29 and $38/hour. ARWC offers a generous benefits package, including health insurance, life and disability insurance, paid time off (sick, vacation, holidays), SIMPLE IRA matching contributions, and flexible work arrangements.


How to Apply: This position is open until filled, but preference will be given to candidates who apply by June 1. Early applications are strongly recommended. Applicants should submit 1) a cover letter, 2) resume (max 3 pages), and 3) list of 3 references (in a single pdf) by e-mail to jobs@arkcollaborative.org with the subject line “Director of Forestry” (or “Lead Forester”). References will only be contacted if you are selected for a final interview.

Please respond to the following questions in your cover letter

  • Why does forestry and watershed protection work in the Arkansas basin matter to you?
  • Please describe your experience relevant to the position’s core responsibilities.
  • Why are you interested in working for ARWC?

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

Category Admin & Leadership, Forestry, General / Stewardship
Tags GIS