What is a Natural Resource Specialist?

A natural resource specialist is someone employed by a university or state agency to conduct research, collect data and perform field work. They actually perform a wide variety of duties within the fields of the life and natural sciences. Here are three common jobs for state employed natural resource specialists.

Natural Resource Specialist – Forestry

Forestry specialists work for their state’s Department of Forestry or Land Management. They serve their state through the promotion and protection of healthy forest environments that contribute to citizen livability and the local economy. These natural resource specialists deal with public agencies, forest laws and sustainable frameworks. They may work for a forest program that assures the continuous harvesting of specific trees through helping landowners, implementing best management practices and maintaining healthy forest ecosystems.

They may accept, review and ensure the completeness of landowner applications for logging projects and grant proposals. They may communicate with landowners regarding the project’s approval, deadlines, specifications, requirements and payments. They will perform initial, intermediate and final inspections of projects to assure compliance with regulations and proposed specifications.

Natural Resource Specialist – Land Management

Land management specialist will handle and adjudicate citizen applications for land use permits on public land. The adjudication process involves the initial verification of application completeness, then extensive research into correlating records such as title, status and ownership documents. Land management specialists may be asked to resolve conflicts between land owners, permit holders, local communities and state agencies. They may even host public meetings to resolve complex issues that impact many people.

They may perform field inspections to verify permit and regulatory compliance. They may receive permit requests from tour, hiking, hunting and fishing guides as well as businesses, equipment operators, land developers and government agencies. These natural resource specialists must have excellent tact and communication skills because their job involves high levels of public interaction, responding to inquiries and public discussions of controversial proposals.

Natural Resource Specialist – Wildlife

A wildlife natural resource specialist may be assigned to specific species, habits, ecosystems or geographic boundaries. For example, a natural resource specialist in the Great Pacific Northwest may deal with elk, sea lions or spotted owls. Wildlife natural resource specialists who deal with highly visible wildlife, such as otters and whales, may spend more time working with university researchers, hosting public tours and raising community awareness. Those who deal with elusive and dangerous wildlife, such as the lynx and cougar, will spend more time tracking, monitoring and protecting animals.

A natural resource specialist who works in a Southern State, such as Florida or Louisiana, may deal with endangered tortoises, dolphins, alligators and other indigenous wildlife within designated areas. They may be responsible for monitoring camera traps, conducting herd analytical surveys, collecting data, general data entry and training field staff and volunteers. This type of job will require the person to work days and nights in potentially adverse conditions and remote areas.

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Natural resource specialists may also work as fisher biometrician, marine biologist and environmental program coordinator. Readers can learn more about protecting wildlife and the environment at the websites of the World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council.