Santa Rosa, CA
1. Restoring Native Grasslands (and forests) to Promote Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration
2. Building ecosystem and community climate and fire resilience through forest restoration (filled)
Project 1 Academic Background: Biology, Rangeland Management, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geosciences, Ecology, Botany, or Social Sciences with experience in biology or natural resource management
Project 2 Academic Background: Biology, Ecology, Botany, or Social Sciences with experience in botany and natural resource management
GIS and navigation (GPS) is desirable
Basic familiarity or willingness to learn regional botany and wildlife
Computer skills: Microsoft Word, Excel, Google Suite
CA driver's license and good driver's record
Current CPR and First Aid certification desired
Openings: 0 of 2
*These positions have been filled*
Focus Area: Agriculture/Fire
Regenerative Agriculture, Ecological Forestry, Watershed Management, Fire Preparedness & Management, Education & Outreach, Climate Mitigation & Adaptation
project 1 breakdown
Education & Outreach
project 2 breakdown
Education & Outreach
Goals & Needs
Project One & Two
Pepperwood is a leader in forging solutions to advance the health of Northern California’s land, water, and wildlife. Pepperwood’s Dwight Center for Conservation Science and Pepperwood Preserve encompass 3,200 acres northeast of Santa Rosa in the Southern Mayacamas Mountains (Sonoma County). Coordinating regional collaborations and providing vital data for the region, Pepperwood serves as a Sentinel Site: a long-term monitoring framework designed to track changes in climate, water, vegetation, and wildlife. Our network of sensors, cameras, instruments, and research plots takes the pulse of nature and provides real time situational awareness. Land management activities are planned, implemented, and monitored in multiple habitats and include regenerative grazing practices, vegetation thinning for optimum forest health, prescribed fire, grassland restoration, and invasive species management.
Work and Tasks: Pepperwood seeks a GrizzlyCorp fellow who will work closely with the Research and Preserve Management team as a Field Technician to assist in the rebuild of our grazing infrastructure–which was heavily impacted by recent wildfires–and in the management of our grazing operations. The Field Technician will advance our strategic initiative called “Restoring Native Grasslands.” Our conservation grazing approach will provide an opportunity to learn grazing strategies that promote soil health, grassland biodiversity, and wildlife health. Field work will also include promoting native grasslands by propagating and planting native grasses in cooperation with our greenhouse manager and an active volunteer base. Invasive species management will teach basic plant identification, control techniques (including the active use of prescribed fire), and data collection and processing. Our collaboration with environmental organizations, public agencies, university researchers, and land and water managers offers exposure to diverse approaches to land stewardship, research, and monitoring techniques.
Environmental Challenge: New research in climate mitigation has identified healthy native grasslands as having a large carbon sequestration capacity deep in the soil where it won’t be released in wildfires. Pepperwood’s work in grassland research and management provides essential insights into a rare and understudied habitat type. Developing and demonstrating techniques to promote native grasslands is critical in today’s climate crisis. Our grazing infrastructure was severely damaged in the 2017 Tubbs fire. As we rebuild this program, our GrizzlyCorps fellow will expand our capacity to promote native grasslands, enhance the health of ecosystems, and help Pepperwood reach a broad audience with actionable and tested restoration techniques.
Supporting GrizzlyCorps’ Goals: This project will support GrizzlyCorps’ goals of contributing solutions to the climate crisis by promoting regenerative agriculture that pairs the local agricultural industry with habitat resilience efforts. Further, this program will promote California State goals for healthy soils, improved watersheds, and wildfire resilience.
Capacity Building Projects
Grazing Management: The Fellow will assist the Preserve Manager in oversight of the grazing infrastructure rebuild including water source and distribution development, fencing, and corral construction. The Fellow will learn basic cattle management techniques including electric fence installation and grazing strategies and herd movements in cooperation with preserve staff and the herd owners. The Fellow will learn basic grassland ecology and plant identification.
Prescribed Fire: The Fellow will expand our capacity to utilize prescribed fire to control invasive plants in grasslands and improve the health of oak woodlands. There will be an opportunity to collaborate with our Native Advisory Council and learn basic Traditional Ecological Knowledge applications, fire ecology, fireline construction and the challenges and benefits of implementing broadcast burning. We anticipate one forest burn and one grassland burn will be implemented in 2022-23.
Grassland Restoration: The Fellow will expand our capacity to collect seed, propagate and plant native grasses in restoration projects in cooperation with our greenhouse manager and active volunteer base. The fellow will learn native grass propagation techniques and basic volunteer management.
Invasive Species Management: The Fellow will be an active member of our invasive species management team to control priority invasive weeds. Control methods involve hand pulling, mowing and the use of prescribed broadcast burning.
Forest Management: The Fellow will occasionally participate in forest stewardship projects under the supervision of the Assistant Preserve Manager and will include forest thinning, pile burning, fire line construction and post fire restoration tasks.
As with most of our land management activities we will be collecting monitoring data as part of our adaptive management approach to land stewardship. Lessons learned are captured in technical reports and shared in field classes and in-house publications. Healthy native grasslands have a large carbon sequestration capacity, improve water infiltration and promote healthy pollinator populations. Pepperwood’s work in grassland research and management provides essential insights into Mediterranean ecosystems. Developing and demonstrating techniques to promote native grasslands is critical in today’s climate crisis.
For the past decade, Pepperwood has developed an innovative and integrative approach to monitoring long-term ecosystem health. With partners, we co-produce and facilitate interpretation of high-resolution climate, hydrology, forest, wildlife, and fire data. Pepperwood's work informs regional water security, fire resilience strategies, and regional stewardship.
In the coming year, Pepperwood will be finalizing data collection, analysis, and reporting for our three-year effort to restore and monitor burned headwaters of the lower Russian River located on our 3200- acre research reserve in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A Pepperwood GrizzlyCorps Fellow would play a critical role in characterizing and reporting on the changes in vegetation 5 years post fire. Additionally, the fellow will support a companion project funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board to measure the effects of forest thinning and burning on key components of the water cycle (evapotranspiration, soil moisture, timing and quantity of streamflow).
The capacity of the agencies and communities will be enhanced because we expect the reports, peer reviewed papers, and associated presentations supported by the work of the fellow to provide quantitative evidence of the impact of stewardship actions in the Coast Ranges of California. We are testing management actions and developing best practices for watershed and habitat stewardship. The data and findings will be shared with dozens of regional stakeholders and community members.
This past year, our greatest need for added capacity was primarily focused on field work (e.g. forest plot establishment, data collection, volunteer management). As we move into the final year of the CDFW project, we will need added capacity to aggregate the datasets, summarize and analyze data, develop recommendations, and produce final reports.
Additionally, our Pepperwood GrizzlyCorps fellow would be able to contribute to our research on stewardship practices at a companion site at French Meadows (Placer County, Sierra Nevada, WCB project: Advancing Flow Enhancement Measurement Capabilities from Forest Restoration in Northern California Project). The fellow will have the opportunity to interact with collaborators from UC Davis, UC Merced, and Blue Forest Conservation. Restoring this region to ecological, wildfire, and climate resilience will enhance both stream flows and improve conditions for a number of native species. Data from eddy covariance towers (instruments that continuously measure exchanges of gas and energy between ecosystems and the atmosphere) have been paired with a satellite-derived vegetation greenness index to evaluate the impacts of forest thinning, wildfire, climate, and drought on water supply in the Sierra Nevada.
Organizational & Community Highlights
Surrounded by world-class vineyards, our area is also a recognized biological diversity hotspot that features rolling hills, oak woodlands, expansive grasslands, and more. However, with increasing human development, Sonoma County faces pressing challenges associated with habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change impacts, and wildfire risk. At the center of climate-driven environmental changes, working at Pepperwood provides a rare opportunity to experience dynamic changes to scientific thinking and land management responses
In the last ten years, our region has experienced a historic drought, catastrophic and repeated wildfires, and wide-spread flooding, causing Pepperwood to emerge as a leader in predicting, preparing, and adapting to wildfire. While this has been exceptionally challenging, our organization and community have demonstrated remarkable strength, cohesiveness, and a willingness to work together to not just recover, but to build long-term social and ecological resilience.
Pepperwood’s mission is to inspire conservation through science. We believe that our well-being depends on the health of our natural world. Every day our team studies California’s land, water, and wildlife so we can educate decision makers, our community and the next generation. Given the increase in wildfires, it is critical that we all work together to address risks and build community resilience. As a regional hub, we advance collaborations across disciplines and between scientists, educators, and land managers. We are a conduit of science-based knowledge, tools, and policy solutions. Pepperwood creates and tests strategies that make watersheds and communities more resilient to changing climate and fire regimes.
In addition, Pepperwood Preserve sits within the traditional homeland of the Wappo people. We respect and honor past, present, and future generations of Wappo and their continued connection to this land. We are grateful for the opportunity to gather in this beautiful place and give our respect for its first inhabitants, while actively collaborating with local Indigenous leaders in land management and outreach efforts.
Pepperwood’s staff of 24 are passionate about turning science into action. As an integrated team of researchers, resource managers, educators, and program staff, we value collaboration, co-creation, and inclusion. Our field station is a dynamic, bustling environment. On any given day, staff will be collecting data, hosting convenings, leading visitors on hikes, and participating in community events. With a broad portfolio of applied science projects and a deep network of collaborators, Pepperwood provides a rich and supportive learning environment. We aim to train, recruit, and retain staff, board members, volunteers, and members that reflect the diversity of the greater regional community. We seek to communicate the value, processes, and products of science in ways that reach the broadest possible audience. Pepperwood is a part of the community and we aim to listen to the broader regional community and reach people where they are.