Position Title: Ecology Assistant
Park Unit: Colorado National Monument
Location: Fruita, Colorado
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 36 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 01/20/2025
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $665.00
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.)

The intern will work collaboratively with Colorado National Monument (COLM) natural resource staff and a subject matter expert contractor to: 1) Establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines that can serve as the foundation for a sustainable long-term raptor monitoring program similar to those already in place at Pinnacles and Zion national parks, 2) Identify the most at-risk raptor species and breeding territories within the park to create high-priority raptor management areas, 3) Create and train a small and reliable volunteer-based core team to monitor high priority areas, 4) Build a dynamic, streamlined cloud-based GIS data collection interface, 5) Integrate monitoring results into timely and informed park decisions and advisory recommendations for closing and re-opening climbing routes that risk disturbing nesting raptors.

COLM's numerous sandstone cliffs provide important nesting habitat for many raptor species; they also provide excellent recreation opportunities for rock climbers. Climbers, hikers, and other visitors have been documented in close proximity to raptor nests. Without intervention, this ongoing disturbance will result in failed nests and/or abandoned nest sites and territories. As top predators in the food chain, this has major implications to the park's ecosystem. In 2014, a climbing route inventory (GIP intern!) documented a proliferation of over 400 climbing routes throughout the park; more have likely been created over the past 10 years. Seasonal climbing closures were first recommended in 1993 by the park's Climbing Mgmt Plan/EA but were never implemented. Since 1993, Mesa County’s population has increased 67% and is forecast to increase another 42% by 2050. Annual data are needed to inform where and when to enact (then remove) climbing route closures in a timely fashion, thereby both protecting park resources and maximizing visitor recreation opportunities. This project helps increase resilience of the park's ecosystem to the adjacent, rapidly developing urban area and the associated increase in recreation within the park.


1) A COLM-specific raptor monitoring program SOP that builds upon those already in place at Pinnacles and Zion national parks.

2) A trained core group of volunteers to help with annual surveys.

3) The intern would help train these core volunteers and establish onboarding protocols for training new volunteers.

4) A modern GIS data collection interface and geodatabase.

5) GIS maps and template signage to support communications with the climbing community and media regarding seasonal raptor closures.

6) A summary report and PowerPoint presentation to park leadership summarizing the project.


• Applicants should be advanced undergraduate or graduate students whose educational background and career objectives are in wildlife biology, wildlife management, or visitor use/recreation management.

• Possess both education and field experience in wildlife biology (esp. bird surveys). Given the amount of field work involved, previous bird survey field methods training and/or experience is suggested.

• Ability to recognize and identify birds in the field is important for this position.

• Experience with field mapping, GPS, and GIS should be clearly described in the intern's application.

• Proficient and diligent with data collection and organizing field notes.

• Able to work well independently in field and office settings but be flexible enough to work well as part of a team.

• Ability to work independently and travel on foot in rugged, remote areas using topographic maps and a compass. Preference will be given to applicants with extensive outdoor skills, especially hiking.

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 36 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

Colorado National Monument covers 20,500 acres of red rock canyon country in western Colorado (elevation 6,200 ft). There are 11 main canyons which dissect the arid landscape with dominant vegetation communities of pinyon juniper woodland, shrublands, grasslands, and riparian zones. This project includes approximately 60% research and writing and 40% field work and requires the intern to be in good physical shape for hiking in a backcountry, high desert setting. Summers are hot and dry (90-100F) with scorpions and venomous snakes calling our park home. While two-thirds of our park is managed as Wilderness we are not terribly remote. Park headquarters is located 4 miles south of Fruita, CO with Grand Junction, CO only 12 miles further down the road. A variety of amenities are close by in our community including a regional airport, several hospitals, a state university, and plenty of shopping, restaurants, music, outdoor recreation, and so forth. As the largest city between Denver, CO and Salt Lake City, UT, Grand Junction is a regional hub.


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

Park housing is NOT available. The intern will be responsible for finding housing in the nearby area. Our park housing consists of 11 beds, each in a private room of either a 1-bdrm apartment, 2-bdrm duplex, or 3-bdrm housing unit. Each unit comes fully furnished, has their own bathroom, fully-stocked kitchen, free laundry facilities, and WiFi. Utilities are included. All linens are provided (bedding, towels, etc.). The intern would only need to bring personal items.

Park housing may be an option if a room is available, but in case it is not the intern should expect needing to find their own housing outside the park. Given our proximity to Fruita and Grand Junction, CO there is plenty of local housing ranging from $350 - $750 per month depending what you are looking for. In the past, members of our park's friends group (Colorado National Monument Association) have provided interns with affordable housing as well.

Biology, birds, ecology, GIS, management, nesting, ornithology, raptors, recreation, resilience, rock climbing, visitor use, wildlife

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.)