Careers in the Plant Sciences

Riparian Botanist/Ecologist

University of Montana - Missoula, Las Vegas, Boise, Ely, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, United States

Position Title: Riparian Botanist/Ecologist
Position Type: Technician
Application Review Begins: Tuesday, January 02, 2024
Application Deadline: Saturday, June 01, 2024
Institution: University of Montana
Department/Division: O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
Field (e.g., systematics):
City: Missoula, Las Vegas, Boise, Ely, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, United States
General Information: The University of Montana (UM) O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West (OCRMW) is partnering with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to implement their Aquatic Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) strategy. This protocol is targeted at collecting standardized inventory and long-term hydrologic and biological data at multiple scales across BLM Districts in the Western U.S.

We are currently recruiting Crew Leads, Technicians and Riparian Botanists with experience in fisheries, hydrology, ecology, and/or botany for data collection in Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming from April through August/September (exact dates vary by project, see below).

Data collection will follow the AIM National Aquatic Monitoring Framework, specifically: 1) site evaluation, 2) water quality, 3) physical habitat and canopy cover, 4) macroinvertebrates, 5) photos, and 6) human influences. We will also implement vegetation assessment elements of the Multiple Indicator Monitoring (MIM) protocol. The field crews will consist of a Crew Lead, Technician, and Riparian Botanist. All crews will be supported by Crew Managers and other professional EMMA staff. We ask seasonal staff to commit to the entire field season, practice safety awareness, and contribute to building a healthy, productive, and enjoyable work environment.

All positions are field-based and require primitive camping. Sampling sites may sometimes be near a town, but often the towns will have few amenities or entertainment, and crew members should plan to bring all their food with them each hitch. Expect that cell phone service from any carrier is poor to non-existent in many areas. Applicants should also understand that this is physically demanding work. Crews typically work eight consecutive 10-hour days, followed by a 6-day break, in all kinds of weather, and frequently must navigate sketchy roads or carry awkward and heavy equipment across uneven terrain to access a site. The wadeable streams sampled range from a few inches deep to fast-flowing small rivers that require good balance and a willingness to be waist or chest deep in water.

UM supplies all necessary monitoring equipment, including vehicles, to carry out the work. We provide some group camping gear (stoves, coolers); however, individuals are responsible for their personal camping gear (tents, sleeping bags). We can lend camping gear on a case-by-case basis.
The University of Montana is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and has a strong institutional commitment to the principle of diversity in all areas. Applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability, and perspectives are encouraged to apply.

Position Details
• Position is full time, temporary (< 4 months).
• Compensation is based on qualifications and experience.
o Monitoring Technicians earn $18-19 an hour
o Crew Leads earn $20-22 an hour
o Riparian Botanists earn $20-22 an hour
• All positions include (tax-free):
o $268 meal per diem per 8-day hitch
o Waders and boots (kept by employee on completion of the season, a ~$300 value)
o Field/camping equipment (kept by employee upon completion of field season, ~$300 value)
• Benefits include Worker’s Compensation coverage, paid holidays, and accrual of sick leave (sick leave).

Crews will be based out of a BLM field office to be determined in Spring 2024 based on where data will be collected. Below are the anticipated locations of the base cities and timeline of work. All start dates are dependent on BLM trainings.
NEVADA: Elko, Las Vegas, or Ely, NV working in central, eastern, and southern Nevada. Work will begin on April 13th with the BLM training in Safford, AZ and continue until all points are completed, which is estimated to be late July to early August.
WYOMING: Lander, Pinedale, or Kemmerer, WY working in central, west, and southwestern Wyoming. Work will begin on May 4th with a BLM training in Casper, WY and continue until all points are completed, which is estimated to be early to mid-September.
IDAHO: Missoula or Boise, ID. Sampling will occur across the southern portions of western (Boise) and eastern (Pocatello) Idaho in addition to the northern central portion of Idaho near Lewiston. Work will begin on June 1st with the BLM training tentatively in Challis, ID and continue until all points are completed, which is estimated to be late September.
Qualifications/Requirements: Required Qualifications
• Coursework in Botany, Ecology, Range Science, Wetland Ecology, Plant Taxonomy or closely related subject. A completed B.S. or B.A. degree in a related subject preferred. Herbarium, horticultural, restoration or other related field experience may substitute for academic qualifications.
• Ability to identify riparian graminoids, forbs, shrubs and trees to species using dichotomous keys. Knowledge of wetland and riparian plants of the Rocky Mountains and/or Intermountain West is preferred although those without wide experience in the West or in riparian environments are still encouraged to apply.

Preferred Qualifications
• A basic understanding of how field protocols are used to conduct sampling and field data collection at assessment and monitoring sites.
• Experience with data entry and management using personal computers or tablets. Experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel) and preferably with ArcGIS Field Maps and Survey123.
• Experience navigating and collecting coordinates with hand-held GPS units.
• Experience with using Google Earth or GIS to examine aerial imagery.
• Experience driving and maintaining 4WD trucks and other vehicles, especially on rough and unmaintained roads. Valid driver’s license and clean driving record (DUI or other serious convictions need not apply).
• Demonstrated ability to work productively as part of a team to accomplish mutual goals and to work independently as required.
• Experience in and willingness to spend multiple days camping in the field where multiple hazards (snakes, bears, deadfall, lightning, poison ivy, fires, etc.) may be encountered.
• Willingness to work irregular hours in harsh environments and challenging weather and carry 40-50 pounds in a backpack over uneven terrain.
Responsibilities: - Vegetation assessment via Multiple Indicator Monitoring protocol
- Plant identification to species using dichotomous keys and other resources
- Collecting unknown specimens for future identification
- Data QC
- May assist with lotic data collection
Application Instructions (submission methods, etc.): Please submit the following application materials to The subject line of the email should read "2024 Lotic AIM Application”. Please combine all application materials into 1 document (.pdf preferred) titled “{your name} - {position applying for}” (e.g. Jane Doe - Technician).
1. Letter of Interest – addressing the stated required skills for the position
2. Detailed resume listing education and describing work experience
3. Names and contact information for three (3) professional references
4. Answers to Supplemental Questions
a. What is your preferred location and earliest start date?
b. Which position are you applying for (Crew Lead, Technician, or Riparian Botanist)?
c. Have you applied for any other positions with the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West?
Application review will be ongoing and will continue until all positions are filled. All applicants will be notified of receipt of their application and the results of the preliminary review (rejected due to failure to meet minimum qualifications or transmitted to hiring team). If you qualify for an interview, you will have the opportunity to speak with staff who worked as AIM crew members in previous years.
Compensation Range: $20-22 / hour
Contact Name: Ian Hellman,