Location: Highlands of Roan – Mitchell and Avery County, NC and Carter County, TN
Supervisor: Roan Stewardship Director
Salary: $13.00 per hour (PLUS housing and utilities provided)
Duration: Seasonal – May 15th – August 18th, 2023
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is one of the country’s oldest and most respected land trusts. Founded in 1974 as a non-profit, charitable organization, SAHC works to conserve the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, local farmland, scenic beauty, and places for all people to enjoy outdoor recreation in the mountains of North Carolina and East Tennessee for the benefit of present and future generations. This position is being co-sponsored by our partner, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). ATC’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
This position begins approximately May 15th and ends August 18, 2023.
The Roan Naturalist represents the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC), as well as the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. The two primary responsibilities of the Roan Naturalist are to 1) Educate hikers about the sensitive ecology in the Highlands of Roan and Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics to minimize recreational impacts in the Appalachian Trail corridor, and 2) Perform basic ecology and stewardship functions in support of SAHC’s and ATC’s grassy balds and open areas management programs.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Patrol a 13-mile section of the A.T. with 80% of trail time spent between Carvers Gap and Grassy Ridge. The remaining time will be spent in other areas between Ash Gap and Hump Mountain, with particular attention given to Roan High Knob and Overmountain shelter
- Work schedule is 40 hours per week with a minimum of 2 days and 2 nights on the Trail interacting with visitors and another 2 days of ecological work in areas surrounding the trail corridor
- Trail nights will be spent at Overmountain Shelter, Roan High Knob Shelter, or on the western balds, including Grassy Ridge.
- Engage as many visitors as possible in conversations to answer questions and educate the public about Roan ecology and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.
- Dismantle excessive fire rings and pack out trash left along the Trail and at overnight sites.
- Record visitor data, including number and type of visitors (day-hiker, thru-hiker, etc.) as well as overnight site usage. Document number of interpretive conversations, LNT conversations, amount of trash removed, and number of fire rings dismantled
- Document and report any illegal activity or emergency situations to local authorities, including U.S. Forest Service
- Document and report any trail deficiencies to ATC and TEHCC, including blow-down trees, or tread problems.
- Assist with grassy balds management- this includes conducting vegetation surveys, carrying equipment and tools to field sites, conducting management activities (like brush-cutting or weed-eating), Non-native invasive plant control, and mapping work areas using a GPS.
- Assist with habitat assessments and wildlife surveys as needed
- Submit weekly reports to SAHC, ATC, and TEHCC outlining the past week’s activity
Note: The person selected for this position for 2023 MUST be willing and able to follow SAHC and ATC COVID safety protocols and sanitation measures when interacting with the public. The selected candidate may be asked to sign a waiver, taking responsibility for potential exposure while on the job.
- Outstanding communication and education skills
- Proven ability to interact positively with the public and others
- Background in biology, ecology, or natural resources management
- Ability to carry a 50 lb. pack up to 12 miles in a day
- Ability to use power tools (e.g. weed-eater, chainsaw) to conduct vegetation management
- Experience and equipment for camping under any weather conditions
- Commitment to the SAHC’s and ATC’s resource protection efforts
- First aid training and current certification
- Leave No Trace training and certification
- Knowledge of basic GPS/GIS use
- Ability to learn to identify by sight 5-10 Appalachian plant species
- Ability to learn to identify (by sight and song) 3-5 bird species
- Knowledge of basic trail maintenance techniques
- Willingness to use personal vehicle for transportation to and from trailheads
The Roan Naturalist will be on the Trail for at least two days at a time, rain or shine, often above 5000’ elevation. Weather conditions in the Highlands of Roan are highly unpredictable, but cold, windy, and rainy conditions are common, and lightning danger is extremely high. During this portion of the work week, the naturalist is expected to sleep on the Trail, in a tent. Rustic lodging is available for days off. Weekend and holiday work are required.
The deadline to apply is February 24, 2023. To apply please email a cover letter, resume, and three references to firstname.lastname@example.org. All resumes should be titled as “Last Name_First Name.” Please include the position title and your name in the email subject line. An example subject line will read: “Roan Naturalist: Joan Smith.” No phone calls please.
About Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy:
SAHC is an established land trust serving a 10-county region in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Since 1974, we have conserved more than 80,000 acres of the region’s most important lands, including places that offer opportunities to all people to enjoy outdoor recreation, protect scenic beauty, protect rivers and streams that serve the region’s water needs, connect places for wildlife and plants to ensure resilient landscapes in the mountains, and preserve working farmland that supply local foods.
For more than four decades, SAHC has been leading the way in landscape-scale stewardship of the globally significant and fragile ecosystems of the Highlands of Roan. The Roan Massif is a tight cluster of mountains and ridges that straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Also known as the Highlands of Roan or Roan Highlands, this area contains many peaks that reach above 5,000 and 6,000 ft. elevation, considered high elevations of the southern Appalachians. The geographic characteristics and terrain of the Roan Highlands have created unique pockets of habitat and biodiversity at these highest elevations. The globally important ecosystems and rare endemic species of the Roan Highlands require care and cooperation. Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has led coordination of collective efforts to protect and manage the Roan Highlands for decades, partnering with diverse agencies, organizations, clubs, landowners, and more.
SAHC is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. SAHC recognizes historic inequities in the conservation field, access to land and ownership of land. These factors cause imbalance in communities, and we commit to purposeful action to correct them and to be an antiracist organization. Conservation is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of widely diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities.
We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or religious creed, mental or physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, military or veteran status, citizenship, or other characteristics protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.