Wilderness Intern

Expected Dates
May 28, 2019 to August 26, 2019
Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation
Position ID
The Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation (ABWF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting 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, invasive weed eradication efforts, educating wilderness visitors about wilderness regulations, Leave No Trace principles, and best practices, and providing leadership to volunteers signed up for ABWF-sponsored volunteer work projects.  Wilderness interns are also involved in the monitoring and collecting of visitor use data, 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, making visitor contacts while helping educate visitors on LNT principles, wilderness values, and basic rules and regulations of the area. 

The primary function of the Wilderness Internship is doing physically rigorous trail work that supplements the efforts of the existing Forest Service trail crews in the front and backcountry of the A-B Wilderness, working side by side with a crew of 5-6 other individuals.  Additionally, it is our goal is to make the internship as broad-based as possible, with further opportunities to go on backcountry patrols with the wilderness rangers, participate in scientific surveying work/data collection in the backcountry, and provide logistical help and leadership on volunteer projects sponsored by the ABWF.  

Self-sufficiency is a must.  The intern needs to have previous backpacking experience in mountainous environment.  The intern needs to be pack, plan meals, and cook for themselves independently.  The intern needs to provide all their own backpacking equipment and be able to be mobile, camping often in off-site locations around the wilderness perimeter and for 8-9 days at a time in the backcountry.  If you have little backpacking or backcountry camping experience in remote, mountainous terrain, this position is probably NOT right for you!  It’s not a beginner experience.

Duties and Skills of the Position
  • Able to work, live and communicate as a productive member of a team of 5-6 Forest Service trail crew members.
  • Physical capacity for very 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 10-12+ 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Compensation amounts:

  • $150 - weekly living allowance
  • $650 - one time RT travel allowance
  • AmeriCorps eligible ($1,566 education award)
  • Housing

*All allowances subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes

  • 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; Cross-cut saw Training; GPS Training; Handling of herbicides for weed control; trail design, building, and upkeep, using Pulaskis, shovels, picks, etc
  • 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
some experience
Trail Maintenance
competent with supervision
Volunteer Coordination
competent with supervision
Orienteering compass skills
some experience