The Wilderness Monitoring Crew of the San Juan National Forest collects social and biological data that provides information on current wilderness conditions and trends. The wilderness monitoring crew works in the Weminuche, Hermosa, Lizard Head, and South San Juan Wilderness areas and the Piedra Area - some of the wildest country in Colorado! Wilderness managers use monitoring information in determining management actions. The monitoring conducted by this crew is critical to our wilderness management program.
What are the duties of the monitoring crew?
The primary duties of the monitoring crew are to measure conditions in campsites and to measure impacts to vegetation from recreational livestock grazing. The crew may also monitor noxious weeds. Campsites, meadow sites, and noxious weed sites are located and mapped using Global Positioning System (GPS) data recorders and are mapped on topographic maps. Crew members also contact visitors in the field and may occasionally clean up campsites or do light trail work. Another importatnt duty of the crew is input this data once back at the office. Sufficient training for all these tasks will be provided.
What will the trips be like?
Each trip is usually in a different area. Trips reange from three to ten days with as many as four days off in between. There are generally four crew members who go out in pairs, rotating partners with every trip. Depending on the objectives of the trip, crew members may set up a base camp for several days or they may move every day. Monitoring is conducted in mountainous backcountry areas. The elevation ranges from 7,000 feet above sea level in the valleys to rugged peaks exceeding 14,000 feet. The terrain is steep and challenging so crew members must be in good physical condition. Changing weather conditions mean that crew members will encounter rain, lightning, hail, and even snow. Trips are challenging but rewarding.
What gear will I need? What gear is provided?
Internss will have access to basic backpacking supplies including tent, stove, and water filter. Other large items such as sleeping bags, backpacks, etc., will be available on an “as needed” basis. Each person will be responsible for providing basic personal equipment such as sturdy waterproof/breathable rain gear, appropriate hiking footwear, socks, synthetic hiking clothing, headlamp, hat, etc. These items can often be found at your local 2nd hand stores, or online. There may also be the option of purchasing discounted gear through pro-deals, though this takes time, and should not be counted upon.
Where does the crew live?
Free Forest Service housing is provided when the crew is not in the field. Housing is located either in the town of Durango or 10 minutes north of town depending on availability. Forest Service housing can generally accommodate 8-12 people, usually with two people to a bedroom. Residents share the kitchen and bathrooms as well as housekeeping duties. Crew members bring their own bedding and towels, but the kitchens are supplied with cookware, plates, and utensils.
What is the budget for expense reimbursements?
Crew members are eligible for up to $25.00 per day in food and expense reimbursements for each day worked, which usually equals approximately $250 every two weeks. Crew members should bring enough money along to survive the first few weeks, including money for entertainment or supplies.
What training is received?
During the first part of the summer (at least to mid-June) crew members are trained in evaluating campsites, GPS use, Garmin In Reach sattelite communication device, and Leave No Trace techniques. All crew members will be trained in Wilderness First Aid and CPR prior to going into the field. Additionally, crew members may attend the Forest’s Wilderness Ranger training, and cross-cut saw training may be a possibility. Backcountry trips will probably begin in the middle of June, depending on snow conditions in the high country.
What else is there to do around Durango on my days off?
What isn’t there to do? Durango is an outdoor mecca chock full of rock climbing, biking, kayaking, rafting, hiking, trail running, slack lining, and life-living. And that’s just within the city-limits… Also, there is a thriving art and music community, many summer events, and heaps more within a 5 hour drive. (Think Telluride, Crested Butte, Grand Canyon, Moab…)
Please contact me by phone or email if you are interested in interning in the Rocky Mountains this summer!
MK Gunn Education and Program Assistant San Juan Mountains Association In partnership with San Juan National Forest (970) 385-1313 MK@sjma.org
HOUSING & AMENITIES Type: Bunk House Description: 2 people to a room, shared kitchen and bathrooms, some rules apply