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UC Berkeley Natural Reserve System,
Blue oak ranch

San Jose, CA

https://blueoakranch.ucnrs.org/

Land Stewardship, Fire Resiliency & Oak Tree Monitoring at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve

Desired Skills/Traits:

  • Academic background: 

  • Associate's Degree or Bachelor’s Degree in ecology, environmental science, forestry, land management or related degree.

  • Primary skills:

    • Plant identification

    • Land stewardship experience

    • Ability to hike in hot or inclement weather.

  • Secondary skills:

    • Experience and interest in working with children, Tribal communities, and underrepresented communities

    • Tolerance for insects, poison oak, and other local flora and fauna.

Openings: 1 of 1

Blue Oak Ranch.webp
Focus Area: Forestry/Fire

Climate Mitigation & Adaptation, Ecological Forestry, Education and Outreach, Fire Preparedness & Management

project breakdown

Research

40%

Planning

10%

Implementation

40%

Education & Outreach

10%

Goals & Needs

Blue Oak Ranch Reserve is a 3,280-acre Biological Field Station and Ecological Reserve that was founded in 2007. It is a member of UC Natural Reserve System, providing researchers and educators alike unparalleled access to thousands of acres of chaparral and oak habitat. This habitat is permanently preserved by conservation and open space easements, ensuring that these lands will remain protected for low-impact teaching and research for generations to come.

 

A fellow can expect to work on projects that improve the capacity of the reserve which aims to provide transformative experiences for students and researchers alike. The fellow will have the opportunity to work on land stewardship and restoration, fire mitigation, and community engagement. A typical day may involve activities such as habitat restoration, trail maintenance, removal of flammable vegetation, propagation of native plant species, recording data on oak tree seedling growth, and herbarium specimen preparation. This work will bolster the reserve’s resiliency to the increasing threat of wildfires, drought, and habitat disturbance. A fellow will also be encouraged to develop independent projects that enhance visitor experiences and use of the reserve, by engaging with students, researchers, community members, and members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

 

This capacity building work is essential to ensure that Blue Oak Ranch Reserve remains an active center for field-based teaching in a variety of disciplines. The projects will align with GrizzlyCorps’ goals to build the capacity of the local community by ensuring that the natural habitats east of downtown San Jose are protected for generations to come. 

Capacity Building Projects

Project 1. Land Stewardship

This project will serve both visitors to the reserve as well as community members in the surrounding areas. Part of their duties will be to help maintain trails and manage invasive vegetation conditions on site. In addition, they will help prepare herbarium specimens based on plant taxa found across the reserve. They may also assist with prescribed fire burns or planting of native plant seedlings across the reserve. 

 

Project 2: Biological monitoring and research support

This project would help serve scientists and students conducting habitat research projects on site. Fellows would help record information on oak tree seedlings, monitor growth, collect seeds, and analyze data on oak tree recruitment. In addition, they will provide support to staff for wildlife monitoring projects that may require checking infrared camera traps. They will also help develop a management plan for camera trap imagery. 

 

Project 3: Independent projects

Fellows are encouraged to identify an area of interest for an independent project. Topics could be related to K-12 engagement, producing outreach materials, stewardship-oriented research projects, GIS projects, or other areas. They will also participate in weekly scientific paper discussions that allow everyone to express their perspectives regarding land stewardship and reserve management.

 

All three projects will help address the reserve's capacity to maintain a thriving and resilient habitat that remains accessible to research and education groups. Project outcomes will involve quarterly reports on the status of restoration work as well as a data management plan for camera trap imagery as well as assess the needs for the maintenance of a herbarium collection for visitors.

Organizational & Community Highlights

Blue Oak Ranch Reserve is part of the larger UC Berkeley Natural Reserve System which encompasses six other protected areas in Northern California. Our small community of staff and faculty foster a collaborative environment that is characterized by a deep appreciation for nature. We are committed to advancing scientific knowledge and environmental stewardship to help address our society’s pressing conservation challenges. Working alongside this community would provide GrizzlyCorps fellows with invaluable professional development opportunities. First, fellows have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience conducting land stewardship projects that are highly sought after in environmental science, policy, and management fields. Second, our staff and faculty strive to offer practical skills, mentorship support, and career development advice to interns, students, and assistant stewards. Thus fellows would have access to a broader network of experts and professionals in the disciplines of conservation science and environmental stewardship. 

 

In addition to these professional gains, living and working in Mount Hamilton will offer fellows access to the stunning natural beauty of the San Jose Hills. Vegetation features valley oak and blue oak woodlands, mixed (blue, black, valley, coast live) oak woodlands, chamise chaparral, Diablan sage scrub, native and non-native grasslands, numerous stock ponds, and well-preserved seasonal and perennial streams with intact riparian vegetation and populations of native fish and amphibians. In total, the reserve supports more than 460 species of plants, 130 species of birds, 41 species of mammals, 7 species of amphibians, 14 species of reptiles, 7 species of fish, and hundreds of species of invertebrates. This area provides countless opportunities for exploration for nature enthusiasts. The close proximity to downtown San Jose offers additional ways to become involved with residents in Santa Clara County. We hope to provide fellows with a dynamic and welcoming environment where they will not only thrive professionally but also enjoy a high quality of life, while cultivating a respect and love for the surrounding lands and communities.

Housing

 

The fellow would be housed directly on site in Mount Hamilton. We can offer access to a private studio cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, and access to shared laundry facilities. The fellow would have free WiFi onsite and would not have to pay any additional utility costs. 

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