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01 Jun 2022

Preserve Manager, Central California – Center for Natural Lands Management

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Application deadline: Open until filled, but for fullest consideration, please apply no later than July 25, 2022

Position Summary and General Duties
The Preserve Manager – Central California (Preserve Manager or PM) will join the current team of three other preserve managers in CNLM’s Central California region. The PM will be responsible for managing a portfolio of three preserves in Kern County, CA that collectively cover approximately 8,000 acres. (Some of this responsibility is shared with another Preserve Manager). Those preserves are Lokern (approximately 4,000 acres), Semitropic Ridge (approximately 3,700 acres), and Sandridge (270 acres). All of the preserves are owned by CNLM, and all are protected and managed for conservation purposes—including threatened and endangered species. Valley saltbush scrub and grasslands dominate much of the larger parcels, with diverse biotic assemblages that reflect the geography, topography, and scale of these preserves.

CNLM has considerable history with, and hence data on, these preserves—some parts of which were acquired in the early 1990s. As such, the Preserve Manager will not only continue to manage and monitor these lands and their resident populations but will manage the growing database with appropriate analyses and representations so as to track trends and derive information for adaptive management.

The scale of these conservation lands provides an opportunity to understand and effectively manage at an ecosystem level the threatened and endangered species that reside here. This responsibility requires a strong background in biological sciences and a risk-sensitive approach to monitoring and management. The taxonomic diversity requires a generalist perspective, with particular attention to vegetation requirements of animal species.

The Lokern Preserve is composed of several disjunct parcels along both sides of the California Aqueduct, approximately 30 miles west of Bakersfield, California. Much of the Preserve is comprised of annual grassland and valley saltbush scrub and provides quality habitat for several threatened and endangered species including San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, Tipton kangaroo rat, San Joaquin antelope squirrel, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and Kern mallow. The Lokern Preserve provides habitat for a variety of additional species of concern, including burrowing owl, LeConte’s thrasher, tri-colored blackbird, short-nosed kangaroo rat, and Tulare grasshopper mouse.

The major vegetative associations at the Semitropic Ridge Preserve include valley saltbush scrub and valley sink scrub. The (state and/or federal) listed animal taxa that are the focus of conservation here are similar to those at Lokern. Semitropic Ridge Preserve together with adjacent natural lands forms one of the largest natural remnants of the San Joaquin Valley. The western border of the Preserve is contiguous with the Northern Semitropic Ridge Ecological Reserve, owned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Kern National Wildlife Refuge is approximately five miles north of the Preserve.

The Sand Ridge Preserve encompasses a portion of a narrow sandy ridge and part of the floodplain of Caliente Creek, an intermittent stream with headwaters in the Sierra Nevada and Piute Mountains. The ridge-top sand system is highly isolated from similar habitat and hosts several rare and endangered species including Bakersfield cactus, Sand Ridge Jerusalem cricket, and the giant flower-loving fly—the latter two species currently only being found at Sand Ridge Preserve. Despite its small size relative to the other two preserves in this portfolio, Sand Ridge is not only a refugium for imperiled species, but it is currently undergoing considerable enhancement activity. A new species of legless lizard—Anniella grinnelli—was discovered recently on the Preserve. CNLM staff have been actively expanding the occurrence of Bakersfield cactus with planting, monitoring efficacy of weed management treatments, and acquiring adjacent property to provide a larger and more defensible preserve for the species of conservation focus. The plant communities at Sand Ridge Preserve are a unique assemblage of San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert plants. Although there is a trail on the Preserve, it is currently closed due to the sensitivity of resident animal and plant populations and ongoing enhancement activities.

CNLM’s Central California Region is both a region in which CNLM has a long history of stewardship as well as one of recent and substantial expansion in CNLM’s conservation portfolio. Currently in the Central California Region (which does not include the CNLM Santa Cruz County preserves), there are eight preserves with sizes between 40 and 25,000 acres distributed among Kern, San Benito, Fresno, Kings, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare Counties. Almost all of these preserves are owned in fee by CNLM, with one that is protected (but not managed) by CNLM with a conservation easement that CNLM monitors, enforces, and defends.

The Preserve Manager will be responsible for management at both landscape and population levels. Stewardship activities include occasional restoration or enhancement activities; integrated pest management including chemical control of exotics if needed and/or mechanical control; management of grazing activities; biological monitoring; revising management plans; preparing annual budgets, work plans, and reports; analyzing recent and accumulated data and presenting results appropriately; and active engagement of regulatory agency personnel and other collaborators and contractors needed for specialized services.

The Preserve Manager will provide resource management in accordance with the conservation values and regulatory requirements of the Preserves, CNLM’s stewardship standards and practices (which also reflect and exceed Land Trust Accreditation Commission standards), and the preserve-specific management plans. This position requires maintenance of a home office for which CNLM provides a stipend. A company vehicle may be provided at management’s discretion. There is a considerable degree of autonomy (and responsibility) associated with this position because of CNLM’s organizational structure which focuses on preserve management rather than high levels of administration and supervision. In addition to the management of this portfolio of preserves, the PM will contribute to CNLM’s expertise and documentation of ‘best management practices’ for managing rare and protected plant and animal species. The PM will participate in internal and external stewardship and conservation science events and as needed, participate in the acquisition of new preserves.

Download job description here.