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Research Associate II: Forestry Inventory and Analysis (FIA)

Colorado State University

Job detailsSalary$50,000 – $55,000 a yearJob TypeFull-timeSeasonalFull Job Description

Position Location

Durango, Gunnison and Meeker with a potential for additional RA2 FIA positions in other locations throughout Colorado and Wyoming

Work Location

Position is fully in-office/in-person

Research Professional Position


Posting Number


Position Type

Admin Professional/ Research Professional

Classification Title

Research Associate II

Number of Vacancies

Work Hours/Week


Proposed Annual Salary Range

$50,000 – $55,000 commensurate with experience

Employee Benefits

Colorado State University (CSU) is committed to providing employees with a strong and competitive benefits package that supports you, your health, and your family. Visit CSUs Human Resources website for detailed benefit plan information for permanent full-time and part-time faculty and administrative professional employees in the following University benefit areas: &

Desired Start Date

Position End Date (if temporary)

To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by 11:59pm (MT) on


Description of Work Unit

The FIA Program is a sub-staff of the Science and Data Division of the Colorado State Forest Service. The FIA Program is carried out under the supervision of the Associate Director of Science and Data.

Position Summary

With direct guidance of a Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Supervisory Forester and the indirect guidance of the FIA Program Manager within the Science and Data Division of the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), this research position will be autonomous, independent, and responsible for conducting forest inventory field work across multiple states as the leader and direct supervisor of a two or three-person research associate crew. The FIA Research Associate II is responsible for performing a variety of recurring and complex duties in support of both CSFS and the national US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program.

The incumbent will conduct a variety of field measurements including, but not limited to, those involving tree/sapling/seedling data, vegetation diversity, fuel loading measurements, stand treatments and disturbances, land ownership, and soil and erosion data collection in collaboration with the United States Forest Service (USFS) FIA program. The incumbent will be required to become be knowledgeable with scientific literature and technical bulletins related to natural resources, and be effective in written and verbal communication for non-technical and technical reports, professional and public meetings, and professional presentations. Using a variety of geographical information systems (GIS) software packages, FIA Research Associate II must be able to use their and skills to analyze data, interpret results, and present findings related to both GIS and FIA databases.

The FIA Research Associate II is always expected to ensure safe working practices of themselves and their crew and be an advocate for productive team development. The FIA Research Associate II will administer performance ratings, assign work, and handle administrative tasks related to their crews. This person will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the crew vehicle and all crew supplies and equipment. The FIA Research Associate II will work closely with USFS FIA liaisons to meet production and quality benchmarks, including assisting and leading annual trainings for the certification of CSFS FIA personnel. The FIA Research Associate II is also responsible for making all private landowner contacts prior to accessing or crossing private property.

A person who fills the FIA Research Associate II position will operate 4-wheel drive vehicles, UTVs, ATVs, and occasionally horses, boats and snowmobiles to access various assigned plot locations in Colorado and the surrounding states. The FIA Research Associate II will be required to complete daily check-in safety procedures using GPS beacons. Road and plot navigation skills including use of GIS software and datasets, topographical maps, aerial photos and GPS units- are a must for this position. Crews will use handheld data recorders to gather, encode, summarize, and upload collected field measurements to the USFS FIA database. Bi-weekly summary and progress reports will be submitted to both the FIA Program Manager and USFS FIA liaison.

The FIA Research Associate II and their crews will be required to hike carrying at least 45-pound packs with all related field gear; pack weights can exceed 60 pounds. Crews work at elevations ranging from 3,500 to 14,000 feet when accessing permanent inventory plots. Crews will be expected to hike long distances to reach plot locations both on- and off-trail, and work on steep and or rough terrain. Crews will be working in sun, rain and snow, across the full range of temperatures which can change rapidly throughout the day. The FIA Research Associate II can expect to be in travel status, camping out and staying in hotels for varying lengths of time depending on plot location. A typical length of time in the field is five days, with trips lasting 10 or more days during a typical six to nine-month field season.

When possible and with general consultation with the FIA Program Manager and/or their FIA supervisory foresters, the FIA Research Associate II will be lead project managers while assisting other CSFS Field Office personnel within the following areas: forest management, outreach, and administration. The incumbent will be asked to analyze and interpret findings from technical and scientific reports, and be able to present summarized findings in a variety of public settings. This position is expected to assist CSFS Field Office staff with providing service, outreach, and education to landowners and cooperators/partners through written and verbal communication methods.

Required Job Qualifications

Bachelors degree (or greater) in Forestry, Forest Ecology, Botany, or a Natural Resources program option will be considered.
Three years of field experience which must include:

Six months of Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) field work and/or FIA Quality Assurance /Quality Control (QA/QC) inspections.
Six months using FIAs MIDAS software and handheld data recorders (i.e. Allegro).

Analytical and technical skills related to various GIS software packages and GIS databases, including importing shapefiles and buffering, clipping, intersecting layers.
Analyzing and summarizing scientific and economic data for reports and presentations.
Experience in road and backcountry navigation using topographical maps, aerial photos, and GPS units.
Must have a valid drivers license or the ability to obtain a drivers license or access to a licensed driver by the employment start date.
The successful candidate must be legally authorized to work in the United States before the employment start date; Colorado State Forest Service will not sponsor a visa for this position

Preferred Job Qualifications

Three or more seasons of FIA experience or similar field work experience (e.g. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) field work).
Previous experience involving supervising hourly, seasonal, and/or temporary employees.
Experience with handheld field computers (i.e. Allegro) and experience using MIDAS software for data collection. Previous use and knowledge of GIS programs, GIS datasets, GPS units to collect field data, and digital cameras.
Ability to use and troubleshoot IT issues related to Windows 8, Windows 10, Java, internet browser security settings, and off-site storage devices.
Experience with scientific and economic data reporting for use in progress reports and presentations.
When contacting landowners and resource managers, demonstrate the ability to explain the scientific basis behind natural resource inventories through a variety of complex negotiation skills.
Experience in project/logistical planning and implementation, and experience participating on teams and ability to work autonomously for extended periods of time.
Experience in map navigation, compass/orienteering, and aerial photo interpretation for reconnaissance; stream-typing using FIA standards; forest-class typing based on ownership, density, tree regeneration techniques, reserved status related to national and state statutes; and completing required documentation and applications as specified with the CSFS-USFS FIA contract.
Experience using and calibrating inventory tools that include hypsometer, clinometer, laser, stereoscope, loggers/diameter tape, chaining tape, increment borers, and others related to repeatable and accurate measurements.
Knowledge of western United States forest management techniques in the following areas: silviculture (e.g., intermediate treatments; even-aged and uneven-aged structure; disturbance regimes and variability; periodic and mean annual increment; diameter distributions; stand legacy; and age structure); forest insect and diseases related to vectors and alternative hosts; sustainable harvesting systems in even-, two-, and uneven-aged forests; forest management planning based on desired future conditions; wildfire hazard mitigation, prevention and suppression in the wildland urban interface (WUI); community forestry in both urban and WUI situations; and outreach and education related to scientific and general public arenas.
Comprehension of basic field forestry skills (cruising and timber marking) related to timber sale boundaries, harvest plans, silvicultural prescriptions, natural and artificial regenerations methods, road layout, and contract inspections.
Dendrology and vegetation identification course work and/or field work.
Excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills.
Committed to safety, quality, demonstrated excellent customer service ethic and professionalism.
General safety (CPR/First-aid) and wilderness first responder safety training and experience.

Diversity Statement

Demonstrated knowledge of, and relevant ability with, culturally diverse communities among potential target and constituent populations.

Essential Duties

Job Duty Category

Forest Inventory, Biometrics, and Accomplishment Reporting


Conduct extensive forest land inventories across private, public, and tribal land ownership.
Determine accuracy of plot location and accessibility.
Locate remote field sites using GIS, aerial photographs, topographic maps, compass and GPS.
Collect biometric data related to tree species composition (count and measurement of the number, species, size, quality, cull and other characteristics of sample trees), understory vegetation composition (species identification, percent coverage, and quantify horizontal and vertical structure), wildland fuel-loading related to down dead wood (count and measurement of the number, tree species, fuel size, dead fuel moisture, and decay class), and forest floor metrics (depth and volume measurements related to organic matter, litter, duff, mineral soil, and carbon).
Examine the classified ownership, forest type, stand size, stocking, cover class, natural and anthropogenic treatments and disturbances; forest insects and disease; and other items as specified in the FIA national/regional field guide procedures.
Make professional interpretations of the FIA national/regional field guide procedures for application under unusual conditions.
Use botanical knowledge to identify plants, collect specimens, prepare them for mounting, and collaborate with various university herbariums.
Monitor all measurements, transfer data, analyze data within quality-control parameters, and upload final dataset to a secure off-site FIA national geospatial data repository.
Complete accurate and concise plot summaries of all field visits.
Communicate, cooperate, and collaborate with city, county, state, and federal natural resource management agencies; tribal entities; private, non-profit, and corporate corporations to enlist support in conducting field inventory activities.
Use various GIS software platforms to extract, analyze, and summarize natural resource and ownership data for state and regional forest health reports and public presentations.
Organize, verify, and refine GIS and FIA data collected for annual summary and accomplish reports for supervisor.
Review and evaluate the FIA national/regional field guide procedures and provide professional and scientific feedback regarding data collection, data analysis, methodology, and conclusions for consultation with supervisor and USFS FIA liaison.
Provide, professional and scientific findings related to natural resource inventories.
Consult various scientific resources to understand standards, methods, findings, recommendations, and conclusions related to data acquisition and inventories.

Percentage Of Time


Job Duty Category



Directly supervise at least one seasonal/temporary crew member.
Responsible for interviewing and hiring crew member(s) for the field season, as well as conducting a performance evaluation of the seasonal employee(s).
Responsible for managing, documenting, and reviewing timesheets and travel vouchers for crew member.
Plan daily, weekly, and monthly work to be accomplished by the unit, assign work to employee(s), and establish production or quality standards for the crews work.
Listen and resolve employee complaints, effect minor disciplinary measures, and recommend action in more serious cases to the FIA Program Manager.
Perform administrative and human resources management functions and guidance for the crew including, but not limited to, counsel or instruction on both administrative and work matters; and assure full compliance with safety regulations.

Percentage Of Time


Job Duty Category

Work Planning


Perform project planning activities including scheduling, organizing, and executing field collection projects related to natural resource inventories.
Create and implement long-range logistical planning and distribution of workload throughout the field season.
Develop and delegate weekly and monthly travel itineraries and logistics for the crew.
Develop work plans that include time and costs estimates, and the required materials, supplies, and equipment to accomplish various natural resource studies and inventories.
Implement daily and weekly safety plans and hazard assessments.
Provide essential support for projects of varying scope; assemble and prepare material for field research work including selection of aerial photos, maps, and equipment.
Responsible for coordinating with the FIA Program Manager, FIA Supervisory Foresters, various CSFS staff, USFS FIA liaison, tribal entities, private and corporate landowners, and state and federal agencies.

Percentage Of Time


Application Details

Special Instructions to Applicants

To apply, please upload a cover letter that addresses the required and preferred job qualifications, a resume, and the contact information for three professional references. References will not be contacted without prior notification of candidates.

Conditions of Employment

Pre-employment Criminal Background Check (required for new hires), Valid Drivers License, Use, Handling, or Exposure to hazardous materials – Exposure to poisonous plants, biting stinging insects, and wildlife is common. , Travel – Extensive overnight travel is required for a significant portion of every year for this position. Applicants must have the ability and willingness to travel for extended periods of time, work long and irregular hours, evenings, and weekends., Special Requirements/Other – Ability to hike carrying at least 45-pound packs at elevations ranging from 3,500 to 14,000 feet. Ability to safely operate 4-wheel drive vehicles, forest machinery and tools; perform strenuous outdoor work in a variety of weather conditions.

Search Contact

Nate Rausch,, 970-433-8675

EEO Statement

Colorado State University is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment based on race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or pregnancy in its employment, programs, services and activities, and admissions, and, in certain circumstances, marriage to a co-worker. The University will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. Colorado State University is an equal opportunity and equal access institution and affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. The
Office of Equal Opportunity is located in 101 Student Services.

The Title IX Coordinator is the Director of the Office of Title IX Programs and Gender Equity, 123 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0160, (970) 491-1715,

The Section 504 and ADA Coordinator is the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0160, (970) 491-5836,

The Coordinator for any other forms of misconduct prohibited by the Universitys Policy on Discrimination and Harassment is the Vice President for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX, 101 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, Co. 80523-0160, (970) 491-5836,

Any person may report sex discrimination under Title IX to the
Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education.

Background Check Policy Statement

Colorado State University strives to provide a safe study, work, and living environment for its faculty, staff, volunteers and students. To support this environment and comply with applicable laws and regulations, CSU conducts background checks for the finalist before a final offer. The type of background check conducted varies by position and can include, but is not limited to, criminal history, sex offender registry, motor vehicle history, financial history, and/or education verification. Background checks will also be conducted when required by law or contract and when, in the discretion of the University, it is reasonable and prudent to do so.

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