Field Journal Reports


  • March 1st, 2019

    **IMMEDIATE OPENING**

    SUWA Service Project Coordinator [Independent Contractor]

    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the outstanding wilderness throughout Utah and the management of these lands in their natural state for the benefit of all Americans.

    SUWA promotes local and national recognition of the region’s unique character through research and public education; supports both administrative and legislative initiatives to permanently protect wild places within the National Park and National Wilderness Preservation Systems, or by other protective designations where appropriate; builds support for such initiatives on both the local and national level; and provides leadership within the conservation movement through uncompromising advocacy for wilderness preservation.

    Job Description Summary:

    The Service Project Coordinator is an independent contractor position focused on volunteer project facilitation on public lands in Utah. Projects address impacts to wilderness values on federal lands. The Coordinator is responsible for the execution of all assigned service projects and for ensuring that projects achieve established goals. On site, the Coordinator will also serve as liaison between volunteers and federal land managers. The candidate should have extensive guiding or leadership experience in outdoor settings, and an understanding of the challenges of teaching, learning and building community in remote and backcountry settings. The Coordinator will play a key role in collecting data that will be used for ongoing service project proposal development. Relevant tech and software will be provided. The position involves consecutive long and difficult days, extensive periods of time in remote regions, rigorous physical activity, and substantial amounts of backcountry driving, often on rugged and technical four-wheel-drive roads. The Coordinator reports directly to SUWA’s Service Program Director.

    Responsibilities
    :

    • On-site coordination and facilitation of service projects between April and October.
    • Logistics and preparations relevant to project work, including:
      • Upkeep of tool/supply inventory, including regular vehicle maintenance;
      • Procurement and preparation of all meals provided to volunteers;
      • Direct communication with Program Director, agency staff and volunteer group;
      • On-site Leave No Trace & safety trainings for all volunteers.
    • Efficient data entry before and after service projects.
    • Perform site monitoring and assessments of impacts to wilderness values.
    • Provide timely reports and updates and meet regularly with Program Director.

    Requisite Skills:

    • Leave No Trace Backcountry Ethics training (Master Educator certification preferred).
    • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) orBasic Wilderness Life Support (BWLS) certification (Must be active).
    • Education and/or field experiences related to public lands or wilderness management.
    • Experience guiding, leading or working in wilderness or backcountry settings, including knowledge and proficiency in backcountry travel and route-finding.
    • Experience managing diverse groups in challenging circumstances and outdoor settings.
    • Experience driving on rugged, four-wheel-drive roads in remote locations, as well as experience dealing with unexpected vehicle issues.
    • Ability to implement field data collection protocols accurately and completely, with initiative, attention to detail, and an ability to meet deadlines.
    • Ability to hike, sometimes for long distances, for multiple and often consecutive days.
    • Ability to spend more than 3-5 consecutive days at a time in remote locations without cell phone service.
    • Ability to work in all types of weather conditions, including harsh and often high- temperature desert environments.
    • Demonstrated commitment to wilderness preservation and advocacy.
    • Commitment to working a flexible, needs-driven schedule, March through October 2019.
    • Possess a valid, state-issued driver’s license and clean driving record.
    • Prior experience with wilderness inventory and monitoring protocols desirable but not required.

    Location:
    Preferably based out of Moab, Utah, with extensive travel throughout the state.

    Compensation:
    SUWA offers competitive pay, based on relevant experience.

    Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter addressed to Jeremy Lynch at hiring@suwa.org. Any questions should be directed to hiring@suwa.org. We will begin reviewing applications on March 5th, 2019 and will review additional applications on a rolling basis. We will accept applications until the position is filled.

    SUWA is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. SUWA is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

     

  • December 20th, 2018

    In 2019, we will increase the capacity of our Wilderness Steward Initiative, training and equipping regional volunteers to monitor, assess and report impacts to natural and cultural resources on your public lands.

    Join us for the year’s first group training in February, then stay connected for additional opportunities to train directly with SUWA staff in the field this Spring. To propose organizing a WS chapter in your region, county or community, contact our Service Program Director.

  • November 7th, 2018

    When the destruction we witness daily on our public lands becomes disheartening, service work is our most immediate antidote. The dread we experience witnessing drought-death among the piñon-juniper woodlands of southern Utah, or learning of yet another environmentally-destructive policy impacting our public lands, earns reprieve in direct, hands-on service.

    It is a balm for fiery times to convene with those who share our concerns and restore dignity to the landscapes so severely impacted by an “energy dominance” agenda in Washington. We all live at the intersection of environmental and social justice, and our stewardship of wild places is a measure of the health of our human communities.

    SUWA’s service program was created to implement and support appropriate and effective land management practices among the agencies entrusted with protecting wild Utah. We are grateful for our volunteers and the good people in positions of authority willing to do the right thing to ensure that Utah’s wilderness-quality lands remain wild.

    Taking Account of Our Accomplishments

    In 2018, 226 volunteers joined 21 specialized SUWA service projects across Utah. Our committed crews tackled off-road vehicle (ORV) compliance issues, working hard to reclaim, naturalize and revegetate miles upon miles of closed and illegal routes in the Deep Creek Mountains, the San Rafael Swell, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Cedar Mountain Wilderness, and hard-hit WSAs everywhere in between.

    Our volunteers also dismantled and naturalized over 100 nonpermitted campsites scarring the canyons of Cedar Mesa and the Wah Wah, Notch Peak and Swasey Mountain wilderness study areas.

    We installed signs and built strategic natural barriers of downed wood and drystacked stone to protect the magnificent wild lands identified in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act from errant motorized vehicles. Where appropriate, we also built, repaired, or improved over 2,000 feet of boundary and exclosure fence in places like Bears Ears National Monument to protect natural and cultural resources from further degradation by people and—you guessed it—good old fashioned ungulates.

    In January, we piloted the Wilderness Stewards—a volunteer-driven initiative to monitor and assess reclamation needs on public lands. Thirty-six Washington County residents attended a two-day session with our field staff and local BLM rangers to train in monitoring the county’s extensive wilderness. In 2019, we will expand our Wilderness Stewards initiative throughout Utah’s counties, working with you to ensure that our public lands are protected.

    Essential to our mission (and our future), we increased efforts to provide access to the tools and training necessary to empower Utah’s young people to serve on public lands. We worked with first generation college students from the University of Utah, alternative break students, gap-year high schoolers, and young professionals in Utah’s recreation industry—all with the explicit goal of empowering these rising generations to serve as stewards of our state’s living redrock legacy.

    I invite you to register as a Field Volunteer with SUWA this winter and—come Spring—to join us as we continue our work across Utah.

    Apply Now

     

  • June 29th, 2018

    Thanks to the commitment of our Field Volunteers, 2018 is proving to be our most active and productive service season to date. Our crews continue to expand our work across Utah where impacts to our wild and public lands are most severe. We have traveled from the mountains of the West Desert, across the fractured landscapes of southern Utah’s imperiled national monuments, and as far as our northern wilderness.

    As we move through a summer of service work in Bears Ears National Monument (view our complete event calender here), we look ahead to a busy fall season. We’re preparing for project work across the state: Bears Ears, Book Cliffs, Canaan Mountain Wilderness, Cedar Mesa, and the Deep Creek Mountains. Our crews will be active nearly every weekend now through early November – and we need your help!

    Beginning this fall we will recruit, train and outfit select individuals to lead service projects in Utah. SUWA’s crew leaders will work with our Program Director and collaborating land managers to increase our program’s capacity while ensuring our productive presence across Utah.

    Do you have experience guiding outdoor groups? Would you like to learn more about what it takes to manage fieldwork while navigating some of our state’s most magnificent landscapes? Several diverse opportunities are available – backcountry to front country – and we are looking for a few committed leaders to work with us beginning this fall.

    Take the next step in service and be a part of our first class of crew leaders as we expand our efforts and ensure SUWA’s watchful on-the-ground presence across our treasured landscapes.

    Prospective crew leaders should submit a brief statement of interest (up to a page), along with a resume of relevant experience, to volunteer@suwa.org. This is a volunteer position. You may email preliminary inquiries to the same address or call (435) 259-9151.

    As always, thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to protect wild Utah.

    Jeremy Lynch
    Service Program Director

  • April 24th, 2018

    Reports From the Field is a blog of SUWA’s Field Volunteers, accounting experiences, reflections and activism from time spent in direct service of Utah’s wild and public lands. 

    When hiking and exploring Bears Ears National Monument, it is easy to lose oneself in the beauty and isolation of its many canyons. The serene beauty found in the region now widely associated with the Bears’ Ears buttes is one of the main appeals of this landscape. However, a scan of the canyon walls and alcoves reveals glimpses into the distinctive and vibrant cultural history of the region. While many call Bears Ears a wilderness, it was called home by generations of indigenous peoples, whose artwork, architecture, and objects of daily life may still be found throughout the Bears Ears cultural landscape. As an archaeologist, I can attest to the scientific significance of these sites, but more importantly these are places of cultural identity and spiritual importance to descendant Native American communities.

    Ruins visible from a great distance across the canyon expanse.

    I had the chance earlier this month to explore one such cultural space with a backcountry cleanup project organized by SUWA at Fish and Owl Canyon. Our crew of volunteer scientists and professionals performed trail maintenance, cleaned out and dispersed illegal fire pit rings, and carried out trash left by hikers. All the while, we were witness to archaeological sites throughout the canyons. A granary tucked beneath a rock overhang. A scatter of ceramic sherds on a talus slope. A stark white pictograph above a habitation site.

    Increasingly rare potsherds indicate the cultural landscape of the canyons.

    These were all created by the Ancestral Pueblo culture over 700 years ago, amid a time of social unrest and environmental uncertainty. The placement of dwellings in nearly inaccessible canyon alcoves has been interpreted by many archaeologists as an indicator that defense and security were a priority for the people who called these canyons home. Our small contingent approached one such site, but were appropriately foiled by the steepness of the surrounding slickrock. Even amid a time of uncertainty, the people who dwelt in Fish and Owl Canyons still filled their lives with beauty, craftsmanship, and sustenance, as seen in pictographs adorning the canyon walls, black-on-white ceramic sherds found beneath a site, and corn cobs lying on a dry alcove floor.

    I first hiked Owl Canyon in 2009 and remembered well the ruins, rock art, and artifacts found throughout the canyon. On this return trip I was happy to see that the ruins and rock art appeared undamaged and still in good condition. However, I was disturbed to find the wealth of ceramic sherds that once adorned sites were largely gone. In less than a decade, a deluge of visitors had carried away these pieces of the Bears Ears cultural landscape. As we all continue to fight for the legal protection of Bears Ears, it is just as important to continue to educate a public unfamiliar with the proper etiquette required to visit cultural sites. Our cleanup work helped reverse recent human impact on the canyon environment, but a respect for the cultural legacies of Bears Ears is essential for the continued preservation of this landscape.

    Our responsibility resides in the honoring and protection of a cultural legacy.

     

    Maxwell Forton, Archaeologist
    Binghamton University