National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Conservation Specialist, CONS

Position Category: 
All-Hazard Positions
Position Code: 
Functional Area: 
AD Class: 


This is a general Natural Resources position to serve as a technical advisor in soil and water conservation and related ecological issues impacted by fire, flood, weather, earthquake or other natural disaster or event.


  • Performs preliminary evaluation of the incident to determine the impact on soil and water conservation elements caused by flooding, erosion, sedimentation, or drainage issues.  Reviews the park resources management plan and develops strategies needed to successfully manage and protect natural ecosystems and environmental conditions.
  • Performs inventory, monitoring, and data collection activities concerning soil and water attributes in order to determine protection, mitigation, and restoration requirements.  Coordinates with the park resources program manager to identify specific problem areas, determine environmental impact, and recommend proposals or statements of work for mitigation/restoration.
  • Ensures effective liaison and working relations with related groups and individuals, agencies, and the public in order to encourage and facilitate cooperative resource management strategies.  Assists in the coordination strategies and programs with those on adjacent lands.  Provides expertise to local, state, and private landowners in achieving broad ecosystem protection and restoration strategies.
  • Prepares management and scientific reports regarding the results of protection, mitigation, restoration, inventory, monitoring, and research activities, and makes recommendations to resolve problems encountered.
  • May prepare parts of environmental assessments or impact statements, and evaluate environmental impact statements prepared by other federal agencies or groups for impacts on park resources.
  • May operate a variety of motorized vehicles needed to accomplish assigned tasks.
  • Performs additional tasks or duties as assigned during an incident response.

Position Knowledge and/or Requirements

  • Professional knowledge of the technical methods, principles, and practices of soil science, agronomy, or other related natural resource discipline.
  • Knowledge of NPS planning and management requirements and guidelines.
  • Knowledge of park ecosystems including soils, aquatic systems, and wildlife habitat in order to assess design, test, and effectively implement scientifically credible inventory, monitoring, mitigation, and protection programs.
  • Knowledge of principles and techniques associated with measuring ecosystem dynamics.  Ability to determine the appropriate techniques used to acquire the desired information and achieve needed accuracy.
  • Knowledge of laws, regulations, and NPS policies and guidelines regarding the management and monitoring of natural resources.
  • Practical knowledge of program management and administration of budgets, contracts, and personnel.
  • Knowledge of scientific data acquisition and analysis standards, methods, and recording techniques sufficient to efficiently manage the collection and summation of data, and accomplish data analysis that meets acceptable scientific standards.
  • Knowledge of computer hardware, software applications to process sand summarize field data information, and prepare required reports.
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a valid State motor vehicle operator’s license.

Supervisory Controls

Work direction is provided by the superintendent, resource manager, or other designated supervisor.  As the senior advisor/specialist in the field, the technical work is performed independently.  The incumbent may act as a team lead during the evaluation/assessment phase of the operation.  Work is reviewed for acceptability and compliance with operating instructions and procedures.


Guidelines include laws, regulations, policies, scientific protocols, plans, procedures, and any additional directions given and defined by the supervisor.  Although available, some may not be completely applicable to the work or have gaps in specificity.  The incumbent uses judgment in interpreting and adapting guidelines for specific cases or problems, then analyzes results and makes recommended changes.

Sound judgment must be exercised in the performance of duties where gaps in specificity or conflicts among guidelines occur.  In cases where guidelines lack specificity, the conservationist makes generalizations from several guidelines in carrying out work efforts, analyzing results, and recommending changes.


The work includes varied duties that require many different and unrelated processes and methods.  The conservationist must make decisions which include considerations about the interrelationships of natural resources and the impact to those resources caused by the incident.  Actions taken require the selection and application of nonconventional approaches and precedent-setting solutions according to specific conditions which exist in each assignment.

Scope and Effect

The work is to develop and implement plans and strategies to protect resources and resolve problems with solutions that achieve the management objectives assigned.  Information is acquired for evaluation, inventory, and monitoring to provide a scientifically credible basis for management decisions, thereby directly affecting the current and future integrity of the resources.

The successful accomplishment of the duties of this position affects the quality and effectiveness of resource protection and restoration, and resources management programs designed to protect park(s) resources.  The work involves treating a variety of unusual problems, questions or situations through the application of a variety of established criteria, and/or the development of unique methodology.  The product or service affects the recovery and restoration of resources, the operation of programs, and the focus of activities in dealing with natural or man-caused incidents.

Personal Contacts

Contacts are made with biologists, conservationists, ecologists, resources managers, and other subject matter experts of other agencies, researchers and other members of the scientific community, science and management staff of other parks, conservation organizations, the media, the general public and other park staff.  Contacts typically are not established on a routine basis, and the role and authority are identified and developed during the course of the contact.

Purpose of Contacts

The purposes of the contacts are to provide professional advice to managers and other staff; to exchange information; to provide instruction and services; to coordinate and advise on mutual work efforts and research; to insure compliance with laws and regulations; and to secure cooperation for park programs from other agencies, individuals or interest groups.

Physical Demands

The position may require moderate physical activity including periods of standing, walking, climbing, and lifting and carrying of heavy objects such as scientific instruments.  Some activities may occur in physically dangerous areas or settings.  Documentary research and report writing work is sedentary, which entails the ability to concentrate and write for long periods of time.

Work Environment

Work is performed both indoors and outdoors in all types of weather.  Assignments may be performed in potentially hazardous areas including steep, rocky terrain, arctic environments, mountains, and forests.  Travel to incident sites may be by foot, vehicle, boat, or fixed and rotary wing aircraft.  Use of personal protective equipment may be required.


Page Last Modified / Reviewed: