Forestry Technician (Ecology)

Skylight Forestry, Inc.

Missoula, Montana

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $4,000-$6,500/month
Deadline Jun 14, 2024
Required Experience 2 - 6 years

Skylight Forestry is a data collection and forestry support contracting firm. We provide services to the public and private sectors nation-wide. Through rigorous field data collection and remote sensing, we seek to understand the extent of our nation’s forest & tree resources, how it varies across the nation and how it is changing.

We are passionate about working in the woods, observing, and collecting information on our natural environment and exploring places we would probably would never have gone to otherwise. The data we collect helps natural resource managers of all kinds make informed decisions. We value our natural resources and care deeply about what happens to them, especially our forests. We are seeking adventurous and driven folks to help us collect this important data.

Job Description:                                             

Skylight Forestry, Inc. is looking to hire 1 or 2 full-time seasonal (approx. June 3 -October 31) Field Ecologists (Forestry)/Technicians primarily support the Forest Inventory and Analysis program run by the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station to collect Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Data. More information on the FIA Program can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/pnw/page/pnw-fia-data-collection-methods.

Reporting directly to the Project Manager, your primary responsibility will be collecting high quality data on the forest. Significant amount of time will be spent backpacking through remote and rugged terrain to access these plot locations.  Plots are spread across both public and private forested lands (almost all on public lands)

Location: NW Montana region (centralized around Missoula) with possibility of working in neighboring Rocky Mountain states.

*All permissions necessary to access private property will be done by Client. All permits and/or keys needed to access National Parks, Forests, etc. will be provided.

Job is 100% remote. 85% field work/ 15% data editing and planning

Pay: Salaried employee (exempt) with biweekly pay: $4,000/month- $6,500/month with production bonuses. Stipend for utilizing camper/misc. camping gear/laptop $125/month. Measuring tools will be provided. Pay is commensurate with experience (heavier weight on experience than education)

What You’ll Do:

Conduct extensive forest inventories in accordance with the field procedures

  • Determine plot location accuracy and accessibility
  • Locate and access plots using aerial photographs, online maps, GPS, compass
  • Hike up to 15 miles a day over rugged terrain, on- and off- trail
  • Work independently and make technical interpretations of the field guide
  • Record all measurements utilizing a personal data recorder, upload and edit data, and complete accurate and concise plot summaries of all plot visits
  • Use resources such as botanical keys and/or plant association guides to identify trees, forbs, grasses, and shrubs
  • Collects specific plot data which includes: latitude/longitude, aspect, slope %, crown class, crown ratio, site index, species, DBH, height, defect, canopy cover, mortality, tree count, tree class, disease, damage agent, damage severity, land cover class, etc.
  • Conduct down woody material transects
  • Coordinates with landowners on occasion to gain necessary access to plots
  • Updates digital maps and spreadsheets on a regular basis
  • Meets with client personnel on occasion to kick-off projects/define goals
  • Edit and clean data

Sound like you?

Demonstrated experience spending significant amounts of time working and traveling in remote forested ecosystems in the western US. You probably have a degree in the natural sciences, but possibly not.

  • Enjoy working with a high level of autonomy and flexibility
  • Experience and willingness to spend multiple days truck-camping in remote areas
  • Ability to travel to plot locations via foot, 4x4, horse, boat, or airplane
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience on the go problem solving with little to no supervision
  • Ability to be extremely detailed oriented under adverse weather and geographic conditions.
  • Excellent level of physical fitness, and a positive mental attitude
  • Ability to hike up to 15-20 miles/day
  • Attention to scientific detail
  • Ability to bushwack through rough, uneven forested terrain for long periods of time
  • Identification of tree species and plant communities found in the western United States
  • Passionate about Forestry, Ecology and Natural Resources Management
  • US Driver’s License
  • Proficient in Microsoft Excel (esp. data cleaning)

Preferred Experiences and Qualifications:

BS or MS in Ecology, Forestry, Environmental Science, Botany or related Natural Resources field with three (3)+ years experience with technical vegetation/forest measurements. Additionally, preference will be given to folks who are able to be mobile to assist on other inventory projects in the western US as needed.

  • Ability to travel and live in remote backcountry environments for extended periods of time from the mountains to the valley to the coast.
  • Ability to work independently and travel to plot locations over various ecosystems & terrains.
  • Ability to work for extended periods of time to meet project deadlines while working around potential weather constraints
  • Experience working in a wilderness setting, and through complex logistical planning
  • Experience managing crews
  • Expert botanical knowledge
  • Experience collecting FIA data and/or with an FIA program or CALFIRE/USFS
  • Knowledgeable in forest mensuration techniques
  • Experience troubleshooting and cleaning data
  • US Driver’s License
  • Wilderness First Responder Certified
  • Ability to self-motivate and manage time
  • Ability to provide your own dependable, high-clearance vehicle


Though there is little supervision after training, and you will be able to set your own schedule, you’ll need to maintain our production timelines and be able to work around potential weather constraints. Each person will have an average production quota.

During periods of field work, camping will be required. This will in part depend on your production target status. However, you must be willing to stay out in the field for up to 10 days at a time depending on plot completion and goals.

Additional Information:

Though this particular project is seasonal, we have work year-round in other parts of the country for candidates that are interested in more full-time work.


Please email your CV/cover letter with the subject line “Forestry_Technicians”to: daugust@skylightforestry.com. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

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

Category Ecology , Forestry , General / Stewardship