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Sierra Corps USFS Chico Seed Orchard Technician – Sierra Nevada Alliance
Background on Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program:
Sierra Corps is a Forestry Fellowship program implemented by the Sierra Nevada Alliance that aims to increase workforce capacity for forest health, restoration, biomass utilization, and wildfire resilience projects in the Sierra Nevada. The Alliance places Fellows with partners throughout the region for forest-health-related employment. Fellows bring their education, skills, and expertise to engage in paid fellowships that provide assistance in assessment, planning, permitting, project management, and other essential forest restoration and wildfire resilience work. The Sierra Corp is a program that allows you to advance your career in environmental conservation and forest health by working as a forest project coordinator and contributing to the increase in pace and scale of forest restoration at a time when it is critically needed.
For this position, you will be a Fellow for Sierra Nevada Alliance, completing your fellowship and working under direct supervision by American Forests.
Location & Working Conditions:
The CA Cone Corps – USFS Orchard Technician position will be based in Chico, California at the USFS Chico Seed Orchard. They will be expected to work in person at the Seed Orchard, with shifts varying depending on the season. Some weekend shifts may be required. The Technician will be offered the option to live in USFS-provided housing and will be required to pay monthly rent for the provided housing.
Most days will be spent in the field, where the Technician will be expected to stand, walk, or sit for long periods of time. The work does require lifting materials which may weigh up to 40 lbs. Office work will also be expected, including recordkeeping, contract administration, attending meetings, writing reports, and emailing. At times, responsibilities may take place in a field setting. The field setting includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Varying terrain and dense vegetation (possible exposure to wildlife, ticks, poison oak, and mosquitos), hot, wet, and cold conditions
- Severely burned landscapes with standing dead trees and little/no shade coverage
Reforestation efforts in California have expanded in recent years, in part due to the efforts of American Forests. This rapid growth has led to an increase in job opportunities across the sector. While employment is not guaranteed upon completion of the term, skills gained will be of value to the reforestation industry and to American Forests as our organization continues to grow.
In recent years, California forests have been devastated by historical mega-fires and burned landscapes are at risk of a full-type conversion. The Governor’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force Working Group has identified a reforestation opportunity of ~1.5 million acres across the state. Currently, California state seed banks do not have enough seeds to meet this need. The pace and scale of cone collection across the state must rapidly increase to improve forest resilience. American Forests is working to do so on private and public lands through collaboration with the United States Forest Service Region 5 (USFS R5) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) through the Reforestation Pipeline Partnership (RPP), and the development of the California Cone Corps.
The CA Cone Corps – USFS Chico Seed Orchard Technician (Technician) will directly contribute to an increase in cone monitoring and collection. The Technician will receive hands-on experience in the field of reforestation with guidance from industry experts. Additionally, they will contribute to American Forests and the USDA Forest Service Region 5’s efforts by supporting the seed orchard’s overall production and the health of the trees. They will increase the capacity at the seed orchard to monitor and collect viable cone crops – ultimately helping to fill gaps in the state seed banks. At times, they may support in wild cone monitoring and facilitating cone collections.
This position is a unique opportunity to be a part of a high-level reforestation project and contribute directly to the needs of California’s forest ecosystems, including post-fire recovery. It is a great chance to build a career in forestry and/or natural resources. The skills that will be gained through this position are in high demand.
Seed Orchard Management (70%)
- Support efforts to re-open the USFS Chico Nursery – which can support the growth of over 2 million seedlings.
- Compile and manage data of the seed orchard’s production, survival, and inventory, support with database upkeep.
- Support orchard tree health through culling, pruning, mowing, weeding, fertilizing, trunk protection, and pest management practices.
- Complete cone crop forecasting, monitoring, collection, and sanitization.
- Facilitate crew workdays at the seed orchard.
- Maintain the seed orchard’s irrigation system.
- Identify and tag trees for recordkeeping purposes.
Field Work (10%)
- Conduct cone monitoring on USFS forests for collections.
- Support in wild cone collection facilitation on USFS forestland.
Program Support (10%)
- As needed, support the overall goals of CA Cone Corps and USFS forest management and reforestation projects.
Fellowship Activities with Sierra Nevada Alliance (10%)
- Attend orientation and skills trainings, skills development trainings, and graduation trainings
- Bachelor’s degree in Forestry, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Agriculture or a related field.
- Ability to work independently and self-manage to maintain productivity within American Forests and USDA Forest Service expectations.
- Experience databasing and/or record keeping.
- Ability to work well within a team.
- Ability to commit to the full 11-month term.
- Attention to detail, specifically in regard to project planning and tree, seed, and cone identification.
- Project planning or management experience.
- Reforestation or agricultural project experience.
- Ability to think creatively and problem-solve, with a willingness to find innovative solutions.
- Strong desire to work in a forest health-related career.
- Ability to stand for long periods.
- Ability to lift 40 lbs.
- Repetitive tasks with few breaks.
- Work in adverse weather conditions, including but not limited to high heat, rain, snow, smoke, dust, and cold temperatures (within reason).
- At times, walk, hike, or stand for extended periods of time with others and alone in steep, rugged, brushy, and/or remote terrain under adverse weather conditions.