Backcountry Steward Internship-Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

Expected Dates
May 20, 2018 to November 3, 2018
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Position ID

Backcountry stewards gain a comprehensive understanding of the areas to which they are assigned. Their time is spent out in the Adirondack forest acquiring essential outdoor skills as well as valuable knowledge of the ecosystems, natural resources and recreational opportunities characteristic of the area. This position is primarily assigned to Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, one of the larger units in the forest preserve at 125,000 acres. The primary authors of both the state level wilderness protection (first of its kind) and later the national Wilderness Act, had wilderness camps that are sandwiched by this unit and the adjacent Siamese Ponds Wilderness. The inspiration provided by these wild areas resulted in a globally unparalleled, legal recognition of the value of wilderness. The Wilcox Lake backcountry steward would also have the opportunity to work in other areas in the Adirondack Forest Preserve as part of a team of backcountry stewards. All stewards will be trained by NY Department of Environmental Conservation staff at the beginning of their internship and will then be supervised by the area Manager or his/her designee. There are also a variety of different training opportunities offered by the Adirondack Forest Rangers that may arise over the course of the internship. Travel allowance is $650 for this position with car required. 

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is not impacted by high use like other areas of the Adirondacks. This unit is characterized by long trails, many lakes and ponds, large streams, firetowers, rocky summits (many trailess), waterfalls and a remote interior. Some of the very first parcels to become Adirondack Forest Preserve are contained within this unit, making the forests very old. This position requires the willingness and ability to travel by foot and work in remote, rugged terrain and inclement weather conditions. Blackflies and mosquitos are prevalent, especially in the spring. The steward will be required to work weekends and spend extended periods of time camping (up to five days each week) in the backcountry. The ability to use a map, compass and GPS unit and strong backpacking skills are essential.  Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is managed out of the Warrensburg, NY DEC office and this position will be report to this office at least once each week.  Some weeks the steward will work alone while others the steward will be paired up with other stewards to complete larger projects in Wilcox or in nearby management units.  Specific duties and responsibilities include the following:

- Inspect trails and other facilities to determine condition and maintenance requirements
- Trail clearing and brush removal using hand tools (saws, loppers, etc.)
- Trail tread, rock work and drainage improvements
- Building new trail, campsites or other infrastructure
- Installing trail signs and markers
- Campsite remediation and debris removal
- Bridge and other infrastructure maintenance
- Provide information and education to the public relating to the proper use and protection of the natural resource
- Promote Leave-No-Trace practices
- Provide assistance and advice to public regarding trails and other facilities

- 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
- Collect information on user group size, use of specific trails, types of recreation (biking, boating, hiking, etc.) and use of camping areas
- Record GPS tracks and points, as well as photos
- Assist in backcountry emergencies including search and rescue, injuries and evacuation
- Maintain radio communication with DEC dispatch for safety and also emergency situations
- Maintain records including a handwritten daily journal, and document work on a map over the course of the season
- Other conservation-related duties as assigned  

Minimum Qualifications

- Must be 18 years of age or older;

- Must be certified in Red Cross First Aid, CPR and Wilderness or Backcountry Advanced First Aid.

- 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 rough terrain and during inclement weather; and

 Preferred Qualifications

- Have taken an outdoor education course or have outdoor education experience;

 Conviction of a felony may bar appointment or result in removal after appointment.

  • Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is in the Adirondack Forest Preserve in the Northeastern U.S. with typical northeastern weather patterns. Water is abundant in the region and vegetation is lush compared to other parts of the country. As a result there will be biting insects particularly in the spring. The unit is large and remote but near enough to urban centers that supplies and entertainment on days off are easily reached.
  • Leave No Trace Awareness, trail building and maintenance, team building
  • Training necessary to perform work required will be provided. Two Pass days each week (typically Tuesday-Wednesday) will allow the Steward time to relax and enjoy the local southeastern Adirondacks if they wish.
Main Area of Focus
Backcountry/Trail work
Education, Training & Skills Expected
competent without supervision
Hand Tools
competent without supervision
Trail Maintenance
competent without supervision
Orienteering compass skills
competent without supervision