Backcountry Steward Internship-High Peaks 3 (24 week)

Expected Dates
July 2, 2018 to November 3, 2018
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Position ID
Backcountry Stewards are intern positions assigned to public lands in the Adirondack Park that are under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Individuals in these positions will perform a variety of duties which involve the preservation, protection and enhancement of the natural resources and the safety and well-being of the public using these resources. Stewards will be trained by Department personnel at the beginning of their internship and will then be supervised by the area Manager. The travel allowance is $650 with car required for this position

This position is located in the High Peaks Wilderness, New York State’s largest wilderness. This position requires the willingness and ability to travel by foot and work alone or in small groups in remote, extremely rugged terrain and inclement weather conditions. The primary purpose of this position is to perform trail work related activities and tasks, as well as interacting with the public, as needed. The intern will mostly work Monday-Friday, with occasional weekend work. There will be extended periods of time camping (up to five days in a given week) in the backcountry. However, when not camping for work, the intern will be responsible for their own off-site housing. The ability to use a map and compass, a GPS unit and strong backpacking skills are essential.

Specific duties are as follows:

-Perform all aspects of trail work in the backcountry and front country as instructed by the supervisor. These activities will include cleaning and maintaining waterbars, cutting and clearing blowdown, establishing harden trail surfaces or campsites, building wooden bog bridges, installing stepping stones, moving privies, installing signs, grubbing trail tread and any other related trail work tasks needed;

-Maintain all tools that are assigned to you in working order throughout the field season;

-Assist DEC staff and other partners in working on larger bridge projects or other trail related work;

- Inspect trails and other facilities to determine condition and maintenance requirements;

- Take inventory measurements, both quantitative and qualitative, of specific trail and camping area conditions, and patterns of use, to assist the Department in its resource management programs;

- Promote Leave-No-Trace practices to the public that seek information from you;

- Provide assistance and advice to users regarding trails and other facilities;

- Assist with other SCA and volunteer trail maintenance projects;

- Under the direction of a Forest Ranger, assist in back country emergencies, including search, rescue, injuries, and evacuations (as needed);

- Provide radio communication for emergency operations;

- Maintain records including a handwritten daily journal, prepare and submit reports relating to daily activities, public use, maintenance needs, and special reports as needed;

- Participate in training as required; and

- Other duties as assigned connected to the conservation project.

Minimum Qualifications
- Must be 18 years of age or older;
- Must have Associates Degree or 60 college credit hours in environmental education, natural resources management, biology, environmental studies, or a related field preferred or 6 months experience in environmental conservation work in a park or recreation setting;
- Must have a valid driver’s license;
- Must be physically capable of performing field work common to the assigned work area over extremely rough terrain and during inclement weather; and
- Have strong backpacking and wilderness camping skills
- Basic First Aid and CPR required.  Wilderness Advanced First Aid is optional.
- Have taken an outdoor education course or have outdoor education experience;
Conviction of a felony may bar appointment or result in removal after appointment.

Day to Day View of Position

The positions for the High Peaks Wilderness will attend the regular SCA Backcountry Steward Introduction training and then will participate in specific trail work training. All basic aspects of trail work, needed for the job, will be explained and demonstrated as well as how to properly maintain and care for tools throughout the season.

A crew of 4 will make up the basic working group each week. Depending on priorities and tasks that need to be done the crew will be split up or added to with DEC staff, other SCA or Volunteer workers to accomplish assignments.

Each week the crew will “pack in” to their work site. This may include camping in remote locations in the wilderness for the 5 days and working from a tent. Depending on assignments the crew may camp adjacent to one of our Interior Cabins, where they will work with Caretakers on specific projects. It is expected that you will be self-contained in the backcountry for the entire work week.
There will be occasions that crews will work in the front country for a few days or weeks at a time, where they will be responsible for showing up at a trailhead or work location each day and being able to stay where they choose in the evenings.

This work will be dirty, buggy and go on in all types of weather. Crew members should wear appropriate clothing for the position including pants, sturdy hiking boots and synthetic clothing to avoid being exposed to the hazards of being cold and wet while working in the Adirondacks. In 2013 there was snow Memorial Day weekend and the temperature can get down below 32 degrees any month of the year in the High Peaks.

What is around the working area?

The High Peaks is a large wilderness that has many access points in several different towns. For this position the Supervisor is based in Ray Brook, NY which is between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Both of these villages provide grocery stores, gas stations, movies, laundry and normal facilities in a small town. There is a hospital in Saranac Lake and daytime ED in Lake Placid. To the east is Keene, which is a smaller town with a grocery and gas station. Several other towns surround the area but the largest ones are Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. About an hour to the north is Plattsburgh, which is a small city with airport, Walmart and other chain related stores.
  • The High Peaks Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in New York State. It is located in the eastern region of the Adirondack Park in northern New York. The wilderness encompasses approximately 200,000 acres of Forest Preserve land. The topography consists of most of the high elevation mountains in northern New York, ranging in height to 5344 ft above sea level. The terrain is steep and demanding. There are several hundred miles of marked trails and many miles of unmarked paths in this wilderness area.
  • Orientation training, back country trail work, campsite and facility monitoring, Leave No Trace
  • No
Main Area of Focus
Backcountry/Trail work
Education, Training & Skills Expected
some coursework or experience
Recreation Management
some coursework or experience
Resource Management
some coursework or experience
competent without supervision
some experience
Trail Maintenance
some experience
Orienteering compass skills
some experience