Wildlife Crew Lead - Tahoe National Forest (USFS)

The Great Basin Instititute

Tahoe, California

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $26/hour with overtime at 1.5x hourly rate
Required Experience 2 - 6 years

The Great Basin Institute, in cooperation with the USFS, is recruiting Wildlife Crew Leads to perform and help manage wildlife and habitat surveys within the Tahoe National Forest. This position is established on the Tahoe National Forest and works for the District Wildlife Biologists on the Truckee and Sierraville Ranger Districts.  The position is responsible for performing field work relating to the survey and identification of wildlife species on the Tahoe NF. Specifically, Crew Leads will assist agency personnel and crew members with applied management objectives for sensitive, threatened and endangered species such as Northern goshawk, Spotted-owl, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and fisher. Work will focus on monitoring populations and surveying habitats used by these species to 1) support population data on specific species; and 2) ensure adequate protections are in place for areas undergoing vegetation management and restoration projects. These positions support legally mandated compliance measures and obligations and  will help serve USFS vegetation management and fuels reduction efforts, supporting initiatives for healthy, productive, and resilient forest landscapes and resources.

This work provides professional development and leadership opportunities including:

  • Increased exposure and responsibility enacting USFS processes, procedures, and compliance measures; 
  • Assisting in reporting and data entry/quality assurance and control.
  • Increased technical experience and expanded opportunities and exposure to additional disciplines (e.g. archaeology, forestry, hydrology, etc.)
  • Wildlife Crew Leads will perform a wide variety of activities to support all stages of project work. Leads will be responsible for crew safety and oversight, including coordination of daily tasks and affiliated project and crew needs, provide or assist in training, converse frequently with agency staff to plan and assess crew accomplishments, and converse with GBI staff as needed. Crew size will range between 2-6 people.

Duties may include:

  • Broadcast acoustical surveys for Northern goshawks, nocturnal surveys for Spotted-owls, nesting and reproductive status monitoring, and survey and identification of aquatic species.
  • Provide technical advice and leadership for wildlife management programs. This includes gathering, compiling, and analyzing data to determine wildlife habitat requirements and management needs, assessing habitat quality and quantity, interpreting biological requirements for focal wildlife species and their habitat and inventorying and monitoring habitat populations. 

The work will be physically demanding and will involve extensive hiking in steep terrain at high altitudes (6,000 to 9000 ft.) daily, commonly during extreme or inclement weather, i.e., snow or rain.  At least 50% of the spotted owl monitoring will be conducted during early morning or evening hours or during night. Work schedules are generally 5 days on and 2 off, and the position will require sessions of working in remote locations on National Forest Land. First-Aid, CPR, Defensive Driving, and field safety training will be provided. This position is physically and mentally demanding however, it provides a wide array of experience with US Forest employees leading the way.

Applicants must have a valid state driver's license, be able to hear owl and goshawk calls, be in excellent to good physical condition (carry a 40-50 lb. pack up steep terrain at high elevation), be self-motivated, and have a desire to work independently or in small groups in remote locations.  U.S. citizenship is required. 
Wildlife species identification skills such as the use of dichotomous keys, knowledge of wildlife family characteristics and familiarity with California fauna is desirable. Skills related to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems, maps and compass and navigation are very important.

Further Job Details:  Priorities will involve participating as wildlife crew member in the following tasks: 1) Survey for California spotted owl nest sites and their young. 2) Survey for Northern Goshawk nest sites and their young. 3) Survey for Amphibian and other Aquatic Species. 4) Eagle and other Raptor Surveys. 5) Project assistance in Aquatics/Botany/Timber/Rec opportunities when requested.  Stream surveys may involve walking in rocky, slippery cold-water streams up to the headwaters, often through thick brush.  Pond and lake surveys may involve all-day sun exposure and hiking over difficult steep terrain to access survey locations.

Contract Timeline:Tentatively April-October
Location:Tahoe National Forest: Sierraville and Truckee Ranger Districts
Compensation and Benefits:- Wage: $26/hour with overtime at 1.5x hourly rate. Full time, average 40 hours per week.

  • Health, Dental, Vision Insurance paid 100% by GBI. Available on the first day of the month following the start of employment.
  • Shared housing provided in cooperation with GBI and USFS.
  • Camping Per Diem: $15/night as necessary.
  • Uniform Stipend.

Job Qualifications:

At least one of the following required:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Ecology, Natural Resource Management or related discipline, including field based coursework AND one year of wildlife work related to the specific species that you will primarily be responsible for surveying (varies by forest and district, mostly spotted owl);


  • Experience leading crews in the field, including oversight of crew safety, communication, fidelity to methods and data quality;
  • Proficiency in navigation using GPS, topographic map and compass;
  • Experience in standard field methods for wildlife surveys, status assessments, and habitat characterization;
  • Experience in conducting surveys for spotted owl, northern goshawk, and other raptors, strongly preferred;
  • Possess a clean, valid, state-issued driver’s license;
  • Ability to work effectively in a team setting with USFS staff, GBI staff, interns, volunteers, academic, state, and federal partners;
  • Ability to work safely and productively in remote field settings under adverse conditions. This includes occasionally overnight work & camping in remote areas for consecutive nights;
  • Strong organizational skills and ability to work cooperatively as well as independently;
  • Strong communication skills with a diverse audiences, both written and oral;
  • Willingness to work a variable schedule in response to project needs, possibly including some weekends, nights, holidays;
  • Physically fit to work outdoors, carry up to 50 pounds of personal and/or field equipment, and withstand the rigors of a forested and/or high desert environment in all seasons.


  • Ability to safely operate and maintain a 4WD vehicle on and off paved roads; 
  • Familiarity with and interest in resource management issues of western states and the ecology of the Sierra Nevada ecoregion;
  • Familiarity with Sierra Nevada forested habitat types, especially east slope, preferred;
  • Ability to understand, implement and adhere to established data collection, inventory, assessment, and monitoring protocols;
  • Capacity to collect and maintain field data in an organized manner that is easily understood and accessible to other resources staff;
  • Advanced skill using specialized software such as Microsoft Office Suite, ArcMap GIS, and Google Earth

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Category Wildlife
Tags GIS , Ornithology , Herpetology