Wilderness Intern

Expected Dates
May 29, 2018 to August 20, 2018
Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation
Position ID
The Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation (ABWF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting quality stewardship of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area and to foster an appreciation of wild lands.  We work together with the Forest Service by supporting ‘boots-on-the-ground’ projects that enhance the wilderness user’s experience while protecting irreplaceable wild lands.  This happens primarily through trail-building and maintenance projects, educating wilderness visitors about regulations and Leave No Trace principles, providing leadership to volunteers signed up for ABWF-sponsored volunteer work projects, monitoring and collecting visitor use data, invasive weed eradication, restoring impacted sites, and supporting scientific projects that build our understanding of the resource.  The Wilderness Intern would participate in all these duties, with primary emphasis on doing trailwork as part of a Forest Service trail crew, and making visitor contacts while helping educate visitors on LNT principles, wilderness values, and basic rules and regulations of the area. 

Our goal is to make this intern experience as broad-based as possible, with opportunities to go on backcountry patrols with the wilderness rangers, participate in scientific surveying work/data collection in the backcountry, and help out on volunteer projects sponsored by the ABWF.  

Self-sufficiency is emphasized.  The intern would need to provide all their own backpacking equipment and be able to be mobile, camping often in off-site locations around the wilderness perimeter and in the backcountry.  If you have little backpacking or backcountry camping experience in remote mountainous terrain, this position is probably NOT right for you!

Duties and Skills of the Position: 
  • Friendly, out-going demeanor with the public; able to initiate formal and informal contacts with visitors with ease in conducting trailhead/on-trail surveys, sharing wilderness regulations, and extolling wilderness values and LNT principles.
  • Physical capacity for strenuous wilderness travel and backcountry trail work.  This is a rugged wilderness area. There are many work details that require living in the backcountry for 8-9 days at a time.  Must be able to hike over 10+ miles with a pack at a time.
  • You will be working with hand-tools—crosscut saw, pick/adze, pulaski, rock bar, shovel, and rake.  Hard, but very satisfying work!
  • Self-sufficiency—a comfort level with packing, preparing and cooking your own food, packing for week-long backcountry jaunts, sometimes working alone, making independent decisions, and camping out for long periods of time in the backcountry.
  • Strong understanding of and experience with backpacking and using backcountry navigation in difficult environmental conditions and at elevation.
  • Training in CPR/Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder (this is a real plus, though not required).
  • Working cooperatively with Forest Service supervisors, trail crew chiefs, other wilderness rangers, public volunteers, ABWF staff, and most of all, the Wilderness users.
  • Passionate desire to do conservation work on behalf of wilderness and wilderness preservation.
  • The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness of Montana and Wyoming is a truly wild, relatively unknown 944,000 acre wilderness area nestled against the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park. One of the largest wilderness areas in the U.S. outside Alaska, it is a land characterized by rugged peaks (at 12,000 feet, the highest in Montana), myriads of deep blue lakes, and broad expanses of tundra-covered plateaus above treeline. A diverse flora and fauna live here in abundance—grizzly bear, lynx, mountain goats, whitebark pine, and Douglas fir. Sixty trailheads lead to over 700 miles of trails in the A-B Wilderness alone.

    Most of your time will be spent outdoors, hiking and backpacking in the northern Rocky Mountains of the Greater Yellowstone. Forest service hitches are usually 5-8 days in length, mostly in the backcountry.

    Red Lodge (pop. 2500; 5500 ft), Livingston (pop. 9000, 4000 ft.) and Gardiner, population 800, 5000 ft.) where the positions are based are all gateway communities very close in proximity to the A-B Wilderness. Red Lodge, Cooke City and Gardiner lie along the famed Beartooth Highway, a high-altitude road that enters Yellowstone NP from the northeast. Livingston sits along the Yellowstone River on I-90 at the mouth of the Paradise Valley and provides a major access point into the Wilderness. All three are bustling tourist towns in summer but have easy access to larger cities like Billings (125,000) and Bozeman (40,000).

    Summers in the alpine environment are short—summer temps range from the high 20’s at night to mid 80’s during the day, and rest assured, it can snow at higher elevations at any time of the year.

  • Leave No Trace Training; Grizzly Bear Safety Awareness; Use of Bear Spray; CPR and Wilderness First Aid; Saw Training; GPS Training; Handling of Herbicides for Weed control; Trail design, building, and upkeep.
  • Hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, wildlife, climbing, paddling, mountain-biking, history, and sight-seeing abounds, like few other places in the world, really. Yellowstone National Park borders the A-B Wilderness to the south.
  • Yes
Main Area of Focus
Backcountry/Trail work
Education, Training & Skills Expected
some coursework or experience
some coursework or experience
some coursework or experience
Ecology & Restoration
some coursework or experience
Recreation Management
some coursework or experience
Resource Management
some coursework or experience
competent without supervision
Hand Tools
some experience
Leadership Experience
some experience
Community Engagement
competent with supervision
Trail Maintenance
competent with supervision