Opening: Wild Horse Internship, Malheur National Forest

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Click to download a map of the Murderers Creek area.

Location: Blue Mountain Ranger District, Malheur National Forest, Supervisor’s Office, John Day, Oregon

Statement of work and duties for requested Resource Assistant:

  • Assist the Malheur Forest Range NEPA team and Program Manager to advance, document, and expedite NEPA/Planning workloads. Resource Assistant duties include a balance of field, education/on the job training, and office data compilation and management.
  • Assist field personnel with project implementation, monitoring, and maintenance work within the Murderers Creek Wild Horse Territory.
  • Assist fisheries biologists with riparian monitoring and recording.
  • Assist wildlife biologists with springs and fence inventory and game camera placement, critical habitat monitoring, and utilization pattern mapping. Participate in utilization transects.
  • Attend any related collaborative meetings or partner coordination meetings.

Identify all special needs, education level, skills or abilities for the position.

  • Undergraduate or graduate student with an emphasis in environmental science, resource management, wildlife biology, or range management.
  • Solid administrative and data entry skills.
  • Ability to hike in various terrains and conduct data gathering independently or with a team.
  • Ability to quickly learn forest service data gathering methods and GPS skills.
  • Ability to drive a four wheel drive vehicle or ATV – potentially working hours beyond an 8 hour day (usually when in the field) and, at times, during challenging weather conditions.
  • Knowledge of or experience with large ungulates or grazing type animals (i.e. – horses, cattle, elk, deer). Horseback riding skills could be a bonus if tasked with working in more remote and roadless areas of the Territory.
  • Ability to work as a team member, learn quickly, and be “teachable” or accept direction.
  • John Day and Grant County are somewhat remote, with people often traveling 2.5 to 3 hours west to Bend/Redmond or east to Boise for certain unavailable amenities. Thus, a reliable personal vehicle would be helpful.

Define the supervision and coaching support to be provided to the Resource Assistant and by whom.

Supervision will be provided by the Vegetation Management Staff Officer, in coordination with Natural Resources/Planning Staff Officer. The Range NEPA Team lead will serve as a mentor and point of contact for EIS and administrative work, with district and SO specialists in range, wildlife, fisheries, heritage, and hydrology also leading, mentoring, and coaching the field work.

We expect this person, with proper guidance and mentoring, to help fill data gaps and provide relief to existing staff workloads in the range, fisheries and aquatics, and wildlife programs.

Currently, our unit has a high demand on our limited field bound staff. We have various roles and responsibility gaps that we can fill with an intern, with the right person, and with proper mentoring (depending on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the intern). We are willing to invest in the development of a motivated, but inexperienced person, knowing few individuals possess many of the skills needed in this program area.

Information on housing already in place and length of availability:

The Malheur Heritage Program maintains and managers the “Old Supervisor’s House” in the middle of town (John Day, OR). Non-Forest Service employees and partners often utilize this house. The intern would have housing for the duration of the internship.

Is the necessary equipment/workspace/office supplies already in place for the intern?

The equipment/workspace/office supplies will be ready and in place should the internship be awarded to our program.

Unique information about the forest’s wild horse / burro program, forest, and work opportunity that may attract an applicant.

The Malheur is building a strong and more robust program. An intern may secure the rare opportunity to contribute to the building of wild horse program foundations. A motivated individual would gain valuable experience participating in the inception of this program – few people in the country have such an opportunity. The “timber horses” of the Murderer’s Creek Territory are unique and inhabit mountainous terrain of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon. These horses tend to stay at the high elevations year-round, living in bands of three to eight animals. Despite snow depths of 2 to 4 feet in these areas, the horses have adapted using timber thickets for shelter, staying near springs and utilizing the south slopes of ridges which tend to melt off earliest in the spring to provide forage. The Malheur horses can be elusive and tend to be relatively isolated from other herds in Oregon. Spotting these horses, even from the air, is a challenge due to heavy timber canopy cover.

Information is needed to develop the Murderers Creek Wild Horse Management Plan environmental impact statement and conduct regular and occurring land/resource management within the Territory. Our 170,000 acre Wild Horse Territory, jointly managed with the BLM, includes cattle grazing allotments, deer, big horn sheep, and elk herds, with a focus on critical big game winter range along with steelhead critical habitat (T&E Species). The Murderers Creek area and its natural resources are very complex and challenging to manage due to the multiple administrative organizations with various jurisdictions and authorities within and adjacent to the Territory – some often competing. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Phillip Schneider Wildlife Area, BLM, Malheur and Ochoco Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife/National Marine Fisheries, various Tribes, counties, and private land owners all have great interest and involvement in the area.

Experience the applicant may gain in other functional program areas.

  • Gain a better understanding of the NEPA process and why we conduct such work for public scrutiny and input. Work with the team on one of the first Wild Horse EISs in the Region or, perhaps, nationally.
  • Understanding of the complexity of ecosystem health and balancing existing and future demands on public land natural resources.
  • Gain first-hand knowledge of the Malheur’s successful Accelerated Restoration Program, which is not available in many parts of the country or the Region (at this level).
  • Gain valuable and desirable experience gathering monitoring data in riparian, aquatics, T&E Species, range, wild horses, and wildlife program areas. Seeing the outcome of where their workload accomplishment fits in the progression of the Malheur Program of Work – 1) Data Gathering for out-year NEPA, 2) NEPA/Planning/Decisions, and 3) Implementation, Monitoring, and Maintenance.

How would the intern benefit your unit’s wild horse and/or burro program?

A motivated individual would gain valuable experience participating in the inception of this program – few people in the country have such an opportunity – get in on the ground level and help develop a wild horse program. The “timber horses” of the Murderer’s Creek Territory are unique and isolated and difficult to track. Often, an entire day in the field will produce only “sign” of horses having been there. An intern would be working in the Territory, often at higher altitudes, where the horses prefer to spend the bulk of their time.

An intern would learn about the NEPA process and provide valuable information in the development of the environmental impact statement. Our 170,000 acre Wild Horse Territory, jointly managed by BLM and USFS, includes cattle grazing allotments, Steelhead streams, and critical big game winter range. The Murderers Creek area and its natural resources are very complex and difficult to manage due to multiple agencies, organizations, and partners with interests in the area – some often competing. Solid Wild Horse Management foundations are being built on the Malheur as we move through the EIS process for the first time – interns and even permanent staff in the FS rarely have this opportunity.

An intern may also benefit from future federal employment or retention – due to the fact that direct and even indirect Wild Horse type knowledge, skills, and abilities are lacking nation-wide. Offices with Wild Horse responsibilities often must “grow their own” or hire inexperienced people, with considerable mentorship required from the few remaining and available staff.

How will the intern’s duties or projects include working with partners, citizen scientists, volunteers, community participation, social media and/or other activities in support of the wild horse and burro program continue after the internship is over?

The intern’s participation in the development of the EIS may include participating in or witnessing engagements with various State Agencies, two BLM offices, our sister office Ochoco NF, and other regulatory agencies. The impact of these interactions and the resulting EIS/decision to allow for management of Wild Horses may positively continue long into the future.

We also anticipate a robust community and public engagement process via our PAO shop. This may also require assistance and participation at various degrees.

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


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