Position Title: GIS Assistant
Park Unit: Yosemite National Park
Location: El Portal, California
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 12 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 12/02/2024
Flexible Start Date: NO

Weekly Stipend: $565.00
Relocation Allowance: $400.00

CURRENT NUMBER OF APPLICANTS: Under 75 (This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first.)

This interdisciplinary role will use GIS products to support conservation management related to visitor use in Yosemite’s wilderness and front-country settings. The intern will be a key contributor to Yosemite’s Wilderness Restoration Program and will also provide some support to Yosemite’s Visitor Use and Impact Monitoring Program. The intern will be supervised by the Wilderness Restoration Program Manager, with mentorship from the Wilderness Restoration Data Manager, and additional support from the Outdoor Recreation Planner.

Yosemite’s Wilderness Restoration Program minimizes modern human impacts in wilderness by documenting, removing, and ecologically restoring inappropriately located campsites, fire rings, meadow trail ruts, and human infrastructure. These actions restore natural processes, which supports functional ecosystems that are more resilient to climate change. Since 2000, staff have collected over 14,000 data points and associated information for backcountry campsites, informal trails, and degraded meadows.

This position would assist the Wilderness Restoration Program in updating its Field Maps campsite data collection to allow for better long-term analysis. The intern would also examine the 23-year dataset for trends in the ecological impact of campsites and visitor camping behavior. The analysis would assist in answering questions about restoration effectiveness and guide future management actions such as identifying target work locations and location return intervals. Additional tasks include using ArcGIS Pro to modify and publish spatial data, drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and documenting data analysis findings and recommendations.

For a smaller portion of the position, the intern will assist the Visitor Use and Impact Monitoring Program during the Horsetail Falls event. The Horsetail Falls Firefall event is a natural phenomenon that occurs annually in Yosemite National Park, typically between February 10th and 25th. During the Firefall event, the setting sun strikes the Horsetail Fall at just the right angle, causing the waterfall to appear as if it is on fire. The event attracts thousands of visitors each year who crowd into distinct viewing areas to witness the spectacle. Each February since 2019, the park collects data on the number of visitors in each viewing area and photographs observed resource impacts.

The intern will assist by updating the visitor monitoring Field Maps data collection to allow for better long-term analysis. The intern will also examine the 6-year dataset for trends in visitor use impacts in association with the park reservation system and visitor behavior. In addition, the intern will assist in coordinating the field monitoring team and will participate in at least one day of field monitoring. Additional tasks include using ArcGIS Pro to modify and publish spatial data, drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and documenting data analysis findings and recommendations.

The intern's role will help managers leverage existing and future spatial data to understand human impacts to ecological processes, and the effectiveness of associated management and restoration actions. They will help Managers make informed decisions about where and how to prioritize actions going forward.

The intern’s role with the wilderness restoration program will address uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of campsite and meadow restoration actions. Their long-term data analysis will help to identify areas of restoration success, areas that require further restoration action, and the appropriate work site return intervals. These tasks require an understanding of ecological metrics such as vegetation cover, soil compaction, erosion, and water quality, as well as social science metrics such as visitor use patterns, camping behavior, and wilderness character.

The intern's role in the Horsetail Falls event is critical to understanding a recent uptick in visitor use from the popularization of the natural phenomenon. Tasks such as updating field data collection methods for visitor impact monitoring and analyzing multi-year visitor impact data will inform management decisions, improve visitor experiences, and mitigate negative impacts on the environment.

The position addresses a current gap in park managers' capacity to delve deeper into complex questions that long-term data can provide. Ultimately, helping natural resource managers in making strategic decisions that balance the needs of conservation, visitor experience, and the National Park Service's mission.


Wilderness Restoration (75%)

  • Update Park EGIS wilderness campsites and trails layer with recent data
  • Create a spatial library of potential backcountry work routes and potential meadow restoration sites based on pre-defined routes and locations
  • In conjunction with Wilderness Restoration Data Manager, develop field data collection system using Field Maps and Survey123 using URL parameters, related tables, and auto-populated fields
  • Develop a Standard Operating Procedure for the updated data collection workflow
  • Using campsite GIS data, conduct preliminary spatial data analysis of campsite restoration effectiveness over time using established attributes
  • Using campsite GIS data, identify popular backcountry camping destinations and develop a model to determine the appropriate return intervals for backcountry work destinations
  • Draft a summary document to brief restoration and wilderness managers on long-term data analysis findings

Visitor Impact Monitoring: Horsetail Falls Event (25%)

  • Develop field data collection system using Field Maps and Survey123 using URL parameters, related tables, and auto-populated fields
  • Develop a Standard Operating Procedure for the updated data collection workflow
  • Assist with coordinating logistics for 2025 Horsetail Falls monitoring efforts
  • Perform at least 1 day of field monitoring for 2025 Horsetail Falls which includes walking around flat and uneven terrain, counting visitors using a clicker, collecting data and photo points on a mobile device, and answering visitor questions
  • Draft a visitor count data summary for 2025, incorporating data analysis from the previous year’s visitor counts


Applicants must have three years towards an undergraduate degree in GIS, cartography, biological sciences, natural resources management, computer science, or other related field.

Experience working in ESRI ArcGIS software and applications, producing cartographic products, and managing geospatial data are required. Additional skills with Python and R scripting, spatial analysis, and working with GPS and topographic maps will be considered.

Applicants must have an interest and ability to work independently, follow detailed protocols, adapt to evolving work conditions, and have a passion for conservation work.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (“Green Card holder”). Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required. The applicant must be available to participate for 12 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

The SIP Intern will spend the majority (90%) of work time in the office in El Portal with occasional (10%) fieldwork in Yosemite Valley. The office in El Portal, CA sits at roughly 1,900 ft in a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cooler, wet winters. El Portal is located in a steep river canyon, along the Merced River, and consists of a few separate areas tucked into flat parts of the canyon.

The El Portal office is located in the neighborhood of Old El Portal, approximately 1 mile east of the Rancheria Flat government residential area. Rancheria Flat consists of NPS houses and apartments which are rented to permanent, seasonal, and volunteer employees. Old El Portal contains a small grocery store, gas station, community hall, U.S. Post Office, and NPS partner offices.

As an El Portal resident, the intern can take advantage of numerous hiking trails, river access, an employee gym, sports fields at the local school, and a local branch of the Mariposa County Library. Residents can shop at the El Portal Market for grocery basics, which due to its location tends to be pricey, or drive 45 minutes to Mariposa for a full grocery store. Yosemite Valley is an approximate 30-minute drive from El Portal and contains a larger grocery store, restaurants, gift shops, a seasonal ice rink, a library, visitor centers, a medical clinic, and numerous recreation opportunities.

Public transit is available in the form of the YARTS bus with limited service to El Portal, Yosemite Valley, Mariposa, and Merced. Within Yosemite Valley, a free shuttle bus offers limited service to Valley destinations, trailheads, and the Badger Pass Ski Resort. Cell phone service in the canyon is best through Verizon, but all carriers can be spotty due to the landscape. The community hall, library, and two residential “hubs” offer free Wi-Fi.


  • Applicant must have a valid driver's license to drive a government vehicle.
  • A personal vehicle is recommended for this position.

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. Housing is in shared facilities, either in a dorm, apartment, or house in the Rancheria Flat neighborhood of El Portal. Interns will most likely be sharing kitchen and living space with another individual but may have their own room. Units are furnished with beds, couches, tables, dressers, full bathrooms, range, oven, and refrigerator.

You should bring any household items you cannot live without. Some recommendations of items you may want to bring: Sheets, pillows, and bedding for a twin size mattress, mattress pad, towels, toiletries, personal computer, a variety of cool weather clothing, rain gear, clothes hangers, laundry basket/hamper, bicycle (not necessary, but nice to have), decorations to make you feel at home, broom, mop, and cleaning supplies, kitchen towels, dishcloths, sponges, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, pots, pans, utensils, and coffee pot or tea kettle. If placed in shared housing, you will receive roommate contact information before move-in to coordinate bringing shared items, if desired.

GIS, ecological restoration, campsite restoration, wilderness, visitor impact monitoring

This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications, or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first. Once you begin applying for a position, the application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and return later to complete it. Applicants can apply for up to five Scientists in Parks Intern positions per winter. You need to complete a separate application for each position in order to be considered. You should receive a confirmation email after successfully submitting an application. Sometimes institutional email filters/settings can redirect or block emails related to the application. We recommend watching spam, junk, and promotional email folders in case your service delivers messages there. Please visit How to Apply for additional resources and information about applying (i.e., learn what materials to have ready for applying, find a worksheet that previews application questions, etc.)