Opening: Wild Horse Internship, Modoc National Forest

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Location: Modoc National Forest, Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, Alturas, CA

The Modoc National Forest is currently seeking a Resource Assistant (RA) candidate for a Range Technician position with a duty station of Alturas, California. Work would be performed between the Devil’s Garden and Doublehead Ranger Districts.

This position serves as a Range Technician on the Modoc National Forest. The incumbent is responsible for organizing, collecting and cataloging monitoring data associated with the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Herd. The information collected and compiled by the Range Technician will assist the Forest in choosing management options for the wild horse herd as well as provide the public and stakeholders with current information on the wild horse population. The chosen candidate for this resource assistantship will have an opportunity to work with federal, state and county resources, in addition to interested public in managing the wild horse herd. Specific duties may include:


  • Collect photo monitoring of areas within the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory;
  • Collect utilization, stubble height and streambank alteration data of areas within the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory;
  • Perform wild horse counts and develop use pattern maps;
  • Attend public meetings discussing management of the wild horse herd

Preferred Experience:

Candidates near completion or having completed a degree in Rangeland Management, Animal Science or related Natural Resource field are preferred. Other skills that will be helpful in succeeding in this assistantship include: experience operating 4×4 vehicles, ability to walk extended distances over uneven terrain, comfortably working independently or as a team member in remote locations, good communication skills and willingness to learn.

Housing and Work Station:

Government housing (barracks), based in Alturas, CA, is available for the chosen RA for the full 6 months of the assistantship. All necessary equipment, workspace and supplies are in place for the RA.

Supervision and Mentoring:

The resource assistant will be supervised by the Forest Range Program Manager. The Doublehead Ranger District and the Devil’s Garden Ranger District Rangeland Management Specialists would provide mentorship to the RA, depending on their availability and location of work on each district.

About the Modoc National Forest:

The Modoc National Forest, situated in extreme northeastern California, boasts an ecologically diverse landscape. It is a land of contrasts, with ecosystems ranging from pine and fir dominated mountains to high desert plateaus covered with sage brush and juniper. It is one of the largest national forests in California at about 1.68 million acres. Administratively it is managed from the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Alturas and two zones encompassing four ranger districts with offices in Adin, Tulelake, Alturas and Cedarville. The climate also exhibits contrasts, with average high temperatures in July being 88 degrees and average lows in January in the teens. With the average annual precipitation being about 12 inches there is an abundance of days with clear blue skies. Elevations range from 9,892 feet at Eagle Peak atop the Warner Mountains to 4,000 feet in the valleys.

Benefit of Research Assistant to the Modoc NF and National WHB Program

The Modoc National Forest (MDF) has the largest wild horse population in Region 5 and one of the larger wild horse programs nationally in the Forest Service. With this distinction comes a lot of responsibilities including but not limited to: surveying the size and distribution of the herd across the Forest, monitoring resource damage in the wild horse territory, maintaining partnerships with local and regional stakeholders surrounding the wild horse territory and developing proposals and plans to better manage the wild horse population.

Currently the majority of the wild horses on the MDF reside between the Devil’s Garden Ranger District (DGRD) and Doublehead Ranger District (DHRD). There is one District Rangeland Management Specialist assigned to each district. Given the size of the wild horse territory and the size of the wild horse herd, it is challenging to accurately document the activities of the wild horse herd in addition of the regularly assigned duties of administering the districts’ livestock grazing permits. Hosting a wild horse RA would benefit the Forest, by providing support to the affected districts by gathering data that otherwise may not be collected under normal staffing and workloads.

The Modoc County Farm Bureau, Modoc County Cooperative Extension and numerous special interest groups have a presence and active involvement in how the Forest is managing the wild horse herd within the Devil’s Garden Plateau. Given the level of public and government interest in the Modoc’s wild horse herd, there are opportunities for the proposed wild horse RA to engage with community stakeholders in seeking options and ideas to better manage the herd. The MDF can assist RAs seeking to gain experience in complex natural resource issues, specifically related to wild horse management and livestock grazing. In return, an resource assistant can provide the Forest with additional capacity to not only gather more real time data on what is happening on the ground within the wild horse territory, but also be an active participant in listening to public comments and concerns about the management of the wild horse population; and effectively relay that information in a timely manner to the Forest.

While the Devil’s Garden wild horse herd is the largest herd on our Forest, which also has a Territory Management Plan (TMP) in place, the far west border of the Forest also seasonally hosts wild horses that come from the Klamath National Forest. There is no official designation, or management plan in place for wild horses in the area surrounding Mt. Dome on the DHRD. Little is known about the size of the herd that moves between the two Forests other than periodic reports from livestock producers and sportsmen that the herd is steadily growing. Ultimately it would benefit the Forest if the proposed wild horse RA could also provide some intelligence on what is transpiring on the western boundary of our Forest and whether or not impending management actions may be necessary to manage the resources in the area.

Interested applicants, please call Joshua Rosenau at 406-275-4056.

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