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Butte County Resource
Conservation District

Chico, CA

 http://www.bcrcd.org/

Forest Resilience Specialist

Desired Skills/Traits:

We are looking for one Fellow who is ecologically minded, loves fire, and enjoys being outdoors in all kinds of weather while collecting detailed, accurate data and taking good care of our tools. A background in ecology, forestry, or a field science is probably best, but not as important as your outdoor hardiness and your ability to learn.  

  • Primary skills:

    • resourcefulness/problem-solving, 

    • an equal enjoyment of working in the woods and writing/mapmaking indoors, and

    • the ability to speak respectfully and kindly to people of all political persuasions and backgrounds.  

  • Secondary skills:

    • any prior forestry field experience

    • Flexibility (your schedule WILL change with weather windows and landowners’ schedules and you’ll need to pivot to stay productive), and 

    • basic proficiency in ArcGIS.  (If you have more advanced GIS proclivities, you may be sure we will give you ways to use them, and you will find plenty of coworkers willing to geek out on GIS!)  

  • Desired training: basic GIS skills (creating and editing features, publishing maps, using FieldMaps, and keeping a clean database).

Openings: 1 of 1

butte 1jpg.jpg
Focus Area: Forestry/Fire

Climate Mitigation & Adaptation, Fire Preparedness & Management, Ecological Forestry, Watershed Management,

project breakdown

Research

0%

Planning

80%

Implementation

20%

Education & Outreach

0%

Goals & Needs

Californian forests are crying out for good fire, yet many forestland owners (and even the foresters they hire!) don’t understand how fire and forests can dance together beneficially. As the Forest Resilience Specialist, you’d learn to see what a healthy forest looks like and then to sculpt a healthy forest – one that can flourish in a warmer climate and welcome more frequent fire.  

 

A typical day might look like this: You arrive at the office in the morning, open ArcPro and export a couple quick maps you’ll use for the day. Then you hop in the RCD truck and head out to collect forest data from a forest stand that could use some help. After lunch, you use your data to start assembling a forest management plan.  When you get back to the office, you help our Prescribed Burn Association coordinator load up the truck for tomorrow’s community underburn – an exhilarating and educational day of ordinary people bringing fire back to their communities.  

 

Most people have never heard of a Resource Conservation District but we’re actually among the most nimble, flexible and powerful agencies to work for. Every day we team up with private landowners, State agencies, non-profits, city parks, county agencies, the Forest Service and BLM, and Tribes. We can restore meadows, build roads, write habitat restoration plans, and even organize ordinary people into skilled prescribed fire crews so the next generation doesn’t grow up without good fire.  Through our educational and implementation programs in climate-adapted forestry and community-based fire, our work supports the Grizzly Corps mission by directly building our communities’ capacity for fire resilience --as well as the psychological and social resilience that makes a community a good place to live. 

Capacity Building Projects

Project 1: Regional Conservation Partnership Program in Forestry

In Butte County, we have a big backlog of forest resilience work on forested lands that are owned by ordinary residents. (These lands are diverse -- some recently burned at high severity, while others haven’t burned in 100 years and they REALLY need help.)  Most local residents do not have the funds or capacity to complete the work on their own.  However, starting now, we have a unique 3-year opportunity to dramatically scale up the assistance we can deliver to local people from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The NRCS is a federal program that offsets people’s costs for improving their forests.  We need your help in building capacity so we can take advantage of this opportunity.  

You’ll help us scale up by going to forestlands all around Butte County, performing site inventories, then using your data to write Forest Management Plans we can later use to get those lands the help they need.  (We will train you on how to measure the forests and write the plans, and we’ll provide all the equipment you need. You’ll work under our Forestry Program Manager.)  The desired outcome is a tall stack of “FMPs” prescribing the right treatments for properties across our county. Combined, they might cover hundreds or even thousands of acres! FMPs are the first step in accessing the funding to treat the forests, so by creating those for us, you will unlock our capacity to make our forest communities fire-resilient.

 

Project 2: Small Forest Landowners in Butte County

Project 2 is similar to Project 1, except instead of supporting us in accessing a program run by the federal government (NRCS), you’ll support the growth of a smaller but more dynamic program that we made up all by ourselves. This program does the same thing as the NRCS program – it ultimately delivers free or low-cost treatments to small forest landowners so their lands can be fire- and climate-resilient, and it requires FMPs before that can happen. However, our program is more flexible than the federal program. We created it so we could serve smaller and lower-income landowners.  Once again, the desired outcome is a tall stack of forest management plans. Your year with us will likely be the first year we expand this program to unburned communities. By creating the FMPs for this program under the guidance of our Forestry Program Manager, you will increase our capacity to get work done for a wider and more diverse group of landowners.

 

Project 3: Meadow Restoration in the Upper Butte Creek Watershed

When wet meadows are healthy, they mitigate wildfire intensity, sequester carbon, and release water slowly all summer.  We have a number of meadow restoration projects that need forest inventories and/or pre-project vegetation monitoring before we can begin.  By surveying and reporting on the current stand conditions around these meadows in 2024-25 – again, under the direction of our Forestry Program Manager or an agency partner – you’ll allow us to take these projects to the restoration stage in 2025-26.  As a bonus, you will also have the opportunity to partake in some hands-on meadow restoration days (i.e., to splash around in creeks while weaving willow and lodgepole branches into human-made living “beaver” dams). 

 

Project 4: Building Capacity to Manage Forest Roads

Without forest roads, we can’t access treatment units safely. Besides, messed-up roads dump a lot of sediment into streams. You’ll help us build our capacity to repair and weatherproof natural-surface roads by completing road assessment surveys, assisting with monitoring of road-related project construction, and completing pre and post-photo monitoring of road-related treatments.

Organizational & Community Highlights

Long before fire came and traumatized us and burned down our towns, fire used to bring us together, make us human, and allow us to fulfill our obligations to the land and each other. No matter where you or your ancestors “are originally from,” I guarantee you have someone in your family tree who spent their life skillfully tending fire for the benefit of everyone they knew.

At the Butte RCD, we insist that everyone deserves a good relationship with fire.  Knowing that positive interactions with fire can heal, we started the Butte Prescribed Burn Association after the 2018 Camp Fire. The Butte PBA is a collective of landowners and neighbors who work together to develop locally appropriate fire skills,  put good fire on the ground right here around our communities, and teach our kids to use fire to care for the land.  Our fire-positivity extends into our education, outreach, and the forestry planning work we do, through which you will help local residents create the plans for a forest that can thrive with fire in the future.

Butte RCD’s workplace culture is supportive, flexible, fun, and perhaps a bit nerdy (especially if it comes to mosses, biochar or beavers!). We value collaboration over competition (including with other organizations), innovation over repetition, and thoughtful problem-solving over being told what to do.  Believing everyone has something to learn as well as something to teach, we revel in each others’ successes and encourage each others’ growth. We prize our mix of field time and desk time as a perk. You will often hear us checking in with each other to make sure everyone is getting outdoors enough to stay sane.

We all cherish the privilege of living in Chico, with its endless hiking and mountain bike trails, warm wildflower-strewn winters, arts and music, and beer, plus our proximity to the great cross-country skiing and canyon wandering of the southern Cascades.  As professionals we are dynamic and high functioning, want to make a difference, find our work rewarding, and talk about beavers A LOT.  We get together every 2-3 weeks to geek out over a scientific paper at a local brewery, a ritual we call Beer Review.  

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