Wilderness Dayen – 10 positions/multiple locations

The Society For Wilderness Stewardship Published: March 15, 2023
P.O. Box 1974, Redding, CA
Skill Level
Mid Level
Job Type
GIS / Natural Resources/ Restoration / Planning / Land Use

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The Society for Wilderness Stewardship (SWS) is a non-profit organization seeking to promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship, science, and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness. In other words, we are a professional society working to set the standard for wilderness management. 

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) For more than 100 years, the Forest Service has brought people and communities together to answer the call of conservation. The USFS seeks to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

What is a “Dayen”?

From the German word “Doyen” meaning an expert in a particular field, the “Dayen” position was created by SWS to bring experts in natural resources and wilderness stewardship to federal agencies to assist in the national wilderness character monitoring effort. The Wilderness Dayen will work closely with the SWS National Program Director to support and coordinate Wilderness Character Monitoring (WCM) in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

The Dayens Program’s competitive salary and benefits package attracts and retains greatly talented individuals, and provides opportunity for federal staff to engage in more managerial wilderness work.  Dayens are place-based professionals, who do not require host-provided housing.  Dayens can operate in a number of capacities, from acting as overall wilderness program coordinators to focusing on in-depth research or project work.  They work with federal staff as colleagues, and help address the backlog of wilderness work, as well as drive success in current initiatives such as America the Beautiful, the Civilian Climate Corps, Wilderness Character Monitoring, and the Wilderness Stewardship Program. 

Program Overview 

The Wilderness Dayens Program is a collaborative effort and was created in order to complete Wilderness Character Baseline Assessments, thereby continuing important assessment work that has been underway since 2001, and fulfilling the USFS Wilderness Stewardship Performance (WSP) element “Wilderness Character Baseline”. The Wilderness Character Baseline requires that steps be made to determine a baseline and provide the foundation for evaluating trends in Wilderness character. These trends indicate the outcome of management actions and success at preserving wilderness character as directed by the Wilderness Act. 

As stated in Keeping It Wild 2: An Updated Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System (Landres et. al, 2015), “the results of wilderness character monitoring provide [agency staff who manage wilderness day-to-day, and regional and national staff who develop wilderness policy and assess its effectiveness] some of the key data they need to improve wilderness stewardship and wilderness policy.” The report goes on to say that, “Implementing this monitoring strategy does not guarantee the preservation of wilderness character, but it informs and improves wilderness stewardship, and ensures managers are accountable to the central mandate of the 1964 Wilderness act – to preserve wilderness character.” 

In 2001, the USFS Wilderness Monitoring Committee developed the first national framework for Wilderness Character Monitoring (WCM). Progression was attained by the USFS in 2006 with WCM pilot testing occurring in every USFS region and the publication of the Applying the Concept of Wilderness Character to National Forest Planning, Monitoring, and Management in 2008. 

After years of testing different monitoring protocols, the USFS and Aldo Leopold Research Institute published the Wilderness Character Monitoring Technical Guide in May of 2019. This document provides a national framework and detailed protocols to monitor trends in wilderness character in the Forest Service. Wilderness Fellows will apply the tools in the Technical Guide to complete wilderness character baseline assessments. 

Position Overview 

SWS is hiring 10 Dayens to work with the USFS across the country to complete Wilderness character monitoring baseline assessments for Wilderness areas managed by the USFS. Dayens will work closely and collaboratively with Wilderness staff to produce reports on the state of the Wilderness.  Work is 90% office based and 10% field based. Jobs can be done remotely, with some travel to the Wilderness areas required in the year. Preference will be given to applicants with specific knowledge of the area or a desire to work with and visit these remote Wilderness areas. 

Note: Please see our website for more information about each Dayen position available. Applicants with a passion for Wilderness, land stewardship, and an interest in working with the USFS should apply. 

Primary Responsibilities 

  • Lead the project to produce Wilderness Character Baseline Assessments for local Wilderness areas. Coordinate with Forest Service staff, partners and others, write the assessments, set overall project timelines and goals.
  • Attend a one-week Wilderness Fellow training at Powell Ranger station 
  • Coordinate meetings with USFS resource specialists and line officers to gather information regarding Wilderness character. 
  • Research, compile, and analyze legislative and administrative historical data per Wilderness area. 
  • Travel to and into wilderness areas. Travel costs will be reimbursed. 
  • Select indicators relevant for each Wilderness area to monitor Wilderness character over time. 
  • Compile and analyze data for selected monitoring indicators and complete a baseline assessment for Wilderness character monitoring. 
  • Implement inventory and monitoring strategies for tracking Wilderness character. 
  • Write a Wilderness character baseline assessment for each Wilderness area worked in. 
  • Participate in weekly conference calls. 
  • Set and meet benchmarks and deadlines for data collection, meetings, and draft and final reports. 

Key Qualifications 

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field, Master’s degree or work experience equivalent to a Master’s Degree preferred. 
  • Educational background in Wilderness Management, Protected Area/Natural Resource Management, Recreation Resource Management, Conservation, Social Science, Environmental Policy, Natural, Biological and/or Physical Science. 
  • Deep interest in Wilderness/resource management. 
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills. 
  • Research skill and attention to detail and organization. 
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively on projects, a high degree of initiative. 
  • Understanding and the ability to use GIS software. 
  • Results-oriented with the ability to set and follow realistic goals and objectives. 
  • Flexibility to adapt when faced with changing needs and priorities. 
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office, comfort with technology. 
  • Ability to travel to remote field locations (travel provided), and to relocate if necessary (assistance not provided). 
  • Must have a valid driver's license and a clean driving record (documentation to be provided upon request). 

To Apply

Please click "Apply" below to email a cover letter, resume, 1-2 page writing sample, and 2 professional or academic references to Julia Cotter. Please include the position title and location you are applying for in the subject line of your email. 

  • Initial application review begins on Friday, February 24th, 2023. 

The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is an equal opportunity employer.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected status.

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