Conservation Project Manager

The Vital Ground Foundation Published: August 9, 2023
Missoula, w/ hybrid remote-work option, Montana
Skill Level
Mid Level
Job Type
Natural Resources/ Restoration / Planning / Land Use / Project Management

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The Vital Ground Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization and an LTA-accredited land trust.  Our mission is to protect and restore North America’s grizzly bear populations for future generations by conserving wildlife habitat and by supporting programs that reduce conflicts between bears and humans.  

Based in Missoula, Montana and working throughout the northern Rocky Mountains, we envision a permanently connected landscape that ensures the long-term survival of grizzlies and the many native species that share their range. By connecting public land strongholds with protected private lands, Vital Ground is the only land trust dedicated to large-landscape conservation for the benefit of grizzly bears, other wildlife and people.


The Conservation Project Manager works closely with the Conservation Director and Vital Ground’s team to identify, develop and complete conservation projects in support of Vital Ground’s mission with guidance from the organization’s One Landscape conservation strategy. Vital Ground is an LTA-accredited land trust that deploys various conservation tools including conservation easements, land acquisitions, habitat restoration, and support of local, state, federal and tribal conservation efforts throughout the Northern Rockies to accomplish its mission. The Conservation Project Manager is responsible for building landowner and agency/tribal relationships, negotiating complex land transactions, overseeing due diligence and closing real estate transactions.  Qualified candidates must possess a deep commitment to wildlife habitat conservation and experience in conservation easements and real estate transactions.

Reports to: Conservation Director

Specific Duties

  • Cultivating relationships with private landowners, agencies and tribes to support conservation project development throughout Vital Ground’s service area (primarily western Montana and northern Idaho).
  • Developing and administering conservation easement transactions including: negotiating the donation or bargain purchase of conservation easements, conducting and tracking due diligence (including contracting for qualified services when necessary) and project closing.
  • Initiating, developing and administering fee title acquisitions including: negotiating the purchase or donation of land, conducting and tracking due diligence and project closing.
  • Developing and presenting relevant project information including project summaries, budgets, maps, and organizational resolutions to Vital Ground’s Lands and Conservation Committee, Board of Trustees and occasionally, the public.
  • Completing technical grant applications for specific projects administered by the position and coordinating private fundraising opportunities with Vital Ground’s Development and Communications programs.
  • Maintaining accurate project information in Vital Ground’s conservation database and filing permanent records in compliance with adopted standards and policies.
  • Assisting with the organization’s annual project planning and budgeting.


Essential Qualifications:

  • Undergraduate or graduate degree in related field (conservation, natural resource management, environmental science or law).
  • Conservation experience with a land trust, conservation organization, natural resource management agency, or equivalent.
  • A minimum of 2-3 years professional experience in real estate transactions or other related land conservation work.
  • Experience working with rural landowners, agricultural operators and forest property owners.
  • Experience managing multiple, complex projects with success.
  • The ability to work independently and be accountable to deadlines while managing time effectively with minimal supervision.
  • Experience communicating with landowners, public, committees, boards and media verbally and in writing.

Additional Preferred Qualifications:

  • A knowledge of wildlife biology and conservation strategies.
  • Basic understanding and application of ArcGIS products.
  • A knowledge of habitat restoration including wetlands, uplands and forestlands.
  • Knowledge of and experience with the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices, accreditation requirements and compliance.

Work Load, Time & Location

  • This is an exempt, full-time regular position (approx. 40 hours per week).
  • Vital Ground is headquartered in Missoula, MT and is currently operating under a hybrid remote-work option. Preferred candidates will be based in Missoula but locations in western Montana or northern Idaho may be considered.
  • Flexibility to work occasional weekends and long hours, especially during deadline periods.
  • Regular vehicle travel is required (project emphasis areas include northern Idaho and Montana, but periodic travel to destinations throughout the Northern Rockies is possible) throughout the year in varying road conditions.  Qualified candidates must possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Qualified candidates must be able to occasionally lift and carry 25 pounds and traverse uneven terrain for extended periods of time.

Compensation & Benefits

  • The salary range is $50,000-$65,000 and offers are commensurate with experience.
  • Employer-paid, immediately vested simplified employee pension program.
  • Generous health insurance stipend and employer-paid disability coverage.
  • Progressive leave package including paid vacation, sick leave and holiday schedule.

Application Instructions

  • Please click "Apply" below to email a cover letter, resume and references to Mitch Doherty, Conservation Director.
  • The position is open until filled.  

More About the Vital Ground Foundation

As a land trust, we complete land purchases and partner with private landowners on conservation easements. Our projects keep wild places wild, working lands working, and open spaces open. Since our founding in 1990, Vital Ground has helped conserve and enhance around 683,000 acres of habitat.

We focus our efforts on crucial areas where private lands connect the wild strongholds of the Northern Rockies. By protecting these vital corridors, we foster movement and crucial genetic exchange between grizzly populations at risk of isolation. Currently, our One Landscape Initiative aims to protect 188,000 acres in 33 key linkage areas identified through rigorous collaborative planning.

Vital Ground is an equal opportunity employer.

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