Position Opening: Director, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

Rocky Mountain Research Station

Director, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute


The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is advertising a key position in wilderness science leadership.   This position serves as the Director of the multi-agency Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (administratively housed in the FS RMRS in Missoula, MT).  The incumbent is responsible for multi-agency development and implementation of wilderness research and wilderness stewardship tools by working with wilderness scientists, wilderness managers, and wilderness leaders in the USDA FS and USDOI BLM, NPS, and FWS through the formulation and implementation of broad policies, plans, standards, and procedures that enable the development, implementation, and management of programs and activities that create a resilient system of wilderness lands in response to a demographically and culturally changing user base and in response to the current and future impacts of climate change and land use change.  The incumbent collaborates extensively with university and non-governmental organization scientists.  The incumbent also works with international colleagues, including other United States federal agencies, as well as scientists and managers.

The incumbent is responsible for jointly leading an organizational unit and having considerable influence on interagency policy, culture, and management of 111 million acres of public lands.  The incumbent is expected to be proficient in both management and leadership competencies, especially in the areas of External Relations, Communications, Leadership, Interpersonal Relations, and Management Functions, as well as being knowledgeable in wilderness and protected area issues across the whole spectrum of research topics (ecology, wildlife, social sciences, economics, management effectiveness, restoration, etc.).

This position is open to people currently in US government service and to non-federal employees also. If you are a federal employee, persons currently at GS-14, and GS-15 are encouraged to express interest in this opportunity.

DUTY STATION:  The duty station is Missoula, Montana.  For information about the ALWRI, the website is http://leopold.wilderness.net. Missoula, Montana is a full service community nestled on the east side of the Bitterroot Mountains where the Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers join the Clark Fork River. The community is surrounded by public and private timberlands and is the home of the University of Montana.  This scenic city is bustling with activity, as western Montana’s regional source for business, culture, medical services, retail, and entertainment. There are opportunities for fishing, thousands of miles of trails, and plenty of guides and shops to clue you in on the hot spots. Within 20 minutes of Missoula, you will discover a ski area that receives more than 300 inches of snow per season. With an area population of more than 80,000, Missoula has what you’d expect to find in a city–a wide range of hotels, restaurants, shops and galleries, several museums, a ballet company, live theater and a symphony. Missoula is home to a College of Technology and the University of Montana.

More information on the Missoula area can be found on the internet at http://www.missoula.com. For additional information regarding Missoula, MT and the surrounding communities, please visit the following webpages at: www.missoulachamber.com or call the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce at 406-543-6623.


  • This position serves as a leader and advisor to the Interagency Wilderness Steering Committee providing high level authority, consultation, staffing, and expertise related to wilderness that is national in scope.  Serves as a technical expert and coordinator in providing intellectual leadership and focus on national and international wilderness and protected area science and technology transfer.  Provides expert technical leadership and program advice in the development and implementation of the multi-agency wilderness science program standards and procedures for research and core program of work direction.
  • As the recognized subject matter expert for wilderness, the incumbent possesses professional, scientific, and technical authority and brings substantial creativity and ingenuity to the development of plans and proposals to address complex, emerging issues for the multi-agency stewardship of America’s 110 million acres of wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
  • Incumbent provides expert technical leadership to the National Wilderness Preservation System’s Interagency Wilderness Steering Committee and supports their goals and vision with demonstrated expertise and fervor.  This includes short- and long-term strategic planning, setting of priorities, and utilizing innovative techniques.  Incumbent employs untraditional methods that may be considered controversial and innovative.  Takes calculated risks to further program objectives and achieve measurable agency-wide actions toward ecosystem resiliency.  The incumbent closely collaborates with the agency wilderness leaders to holistically support the four agencies goals as they relate to promoting the goals of the new wilderness strategic plan, 2020 Vision.  This involves major issues such as setting a high priority research agenda and delivering the science needed by the wilderness agencies, also in securing funding from the agencies, tracking the budget, developing peer reviewed publications and tools for managers.
  • The position exercises the full range of managerial responsibilities over the wilderness science program.  Is responsible for program development, planning, budgeting and management information for identifying workforce and organizational needs, targeting hiring goals, and program and Institute priorities.  Determines which lines of research should be initiated, dropped or curtailed, and when such action should occur.  Is also responsible for ensuring program expenditures are legal, meet charged-as-worked and congressional intent, remain within budget limits, and that work plans reflect actual budget received.
  • Provides, explains, and interprets program objectives, directives, and regulatory requirements related to wilderness science and technology transfer to senior leaders. Produces staff work for the development and application of principles, theories, techniques, and practices applicable to the rapidly changing and highly technical functions associated with programs across FS Research & Development and the National Forest System, the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, USFS Office of International Programs, BLM’s National Conservation Lands, NPS’ National Parks and Preserves, and the FWS’ National Wildlife Refuge System.  Enables multi-agency complementary results that are integrated across all four agencies of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
  • Incumbent ensures wilderness policies, objectives, and operations are correlated and integrated with other wilderness programs in the FS, BLM, NPS, and FWS to achieve a cohesive science program delivery for the National Wilderness Preservation System.
  • Meets with national and international representatives of wilderness management agencies and research institutions and, wilderness organizations, concerned citizens, and public interest groups to gain input into the National Wilderness Preservation System’s current and future research direction.

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS:  Those who are interested must meet the qualification requirements for the GS-401 series that are covered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Group Coverage Qualification Standards for Administrative and Management Positions.

The OPM Qualification Standards Handbook Manual is available for review on the internet at http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/Standards/group-stds/gs-admin.asp

Primary Contacts: Carol Miller at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. Carol.miller3@usda.gov, 406-542-4198