Position Profile


Job Title:  Rangeland Agrologist

Work Unit:  Operations, Approvals

Ministry:   Alberta Environment and Parks

Competition Number:  1040083

Date:  January 2017
 

Purpose

 

This Rangeland Agrologist position manages the range resource to ensure and improve the long term sustainability of the land by maintaining a balance of development, use and conservation. This is a complex role that requires advanced professional skills, an extensive expertise knowledge base in a number of disciplines as well as in depth working knowledge of all activities that occur on public land in order to evaluate the land, analyze impacts and make integrated land use decisions.

The Agrologist will also be called upon to provide expertise knowledge on Provincial committees in order to formulate new land management policies and directives that are provincial in scope and add to the organizational goals.

This Agrologist administers rangeland dispositions using state of the art technical transfer techniques to communicate expert information to the disposition holders and the public, developing and implementing range management practices and acting as a liaison between various user groups.

The Agrologist mediates client and public disputes and generates creative unknown solutions using conflict resolution and de-escalation skills to resolve issues over conflicting activities on public land.

The Agrologist will also conduct range health assessments; provide input into industrial activities, address recreational activities on agricultural leases and meet with clientele as required.

Provide professional scientific expertise on soils, range and riparian health, tame and native ecosystems, and mapping software. Sound land management practices are provided to clients and other professionals in government and industry.

Responsibilities and Activities

  1.

Deliver extension services through state of the art technical transfer to clients within the framework of legislation, regulations, policies and directives in Environment and Parks in order to meet client needs on all aspects of public land management and sustainable use.

Activities:

  • The Agrologist will help deliver leading edge information individually or through partnerships to clientele by way of one on one meeting and group discussions to increase their knowledge and enhance their skills in specified areas affecting rangeland resources. Examples include: Range and Riparian health assessments, recreational access discussions with urban and rural clientele, and disposition holder meetings.
  • Provide expert information and advice to clients and the public on land management practices to ensure sustainable production, conservation and reclamation (for example, use of tame species, weed control, land development after logging, or natural recovery).
  • Partner with Range Management Specialists on field testing new assessment techniques.
  • Participate on departmental and external teams and committees, i.e. testing new technology for field applications, policy development, planning and implementation teams, safety committees, etc.
  • Mediate client and public disputes using conflict resolution, de-escalation skills, principled negotiation, and consensus based decision-making techniques.
  • Resolve issues of conflicting activities/uses of public land by addressing concerns while encouraging the continued use of sound land management practices. Disputes can be emotionally charged at the onset and often must be de-escalated prior to achieving resolution. Solutions are often unknown and often require creativity. Examples where conflicts arise include: recreational or industrial access on grazing dispositions, logging activities, fence line disputes and compensation for damages.
     
  2.

Provide input into land management and operational policy and program development within the policies and directives of Environment and Parks to ensure Area concerns are addressed.

Activities:

  • Identify and recognize strategic issues that require policy formulation and forward the issues to the Rangeland Team Lead and/or Approvals Manager.
  • Provide expertise on committees to formulate and develop provincial policies and procedures that are provincial in scope or are focused on Regional land use issues.
  • Review draft policies and provide input.
     
  3.

Manage and administer agriculture dispositions and activities within the legislation, regulations, policies and directives in Environment and Parks to provide benefits to the user while ensuring that the quality of the land is sustained.

Activities:

  • Evaluate rangeland dispositions including grazing leases, grazing permits, farm development leases, forest grazing licenses, head tax permits, farm development leases, cultivation permits and hay permits. They are evaluated to ensure fulfillment of disposition conditions, proper sustainable land stewardship practices, land conservation and any required reclamation. This requires effective communication with the activity holder regarding any deficiencies and any required action to correct the situation.
  • Make decisions to renew, suspend or cancel dispositions based on field inspections, interviews with disposition holders, compliance with expected land stewardship and specific disposition conditions.
  • Assess grazing dispositions upon renewal through the Stewardship Self-Assessment Form (SSAF) which involves professional sign-off and decision making responsibility.
  • Participate with any agricultural appeals that may arise as a result of compliance or cancellation of grazing dispositions.
  • The Agrologist requires an integrated knowledge and understanding of legislation to ensure many regulatory issues are handled in the Region as part of the overall Compliance and Enforcement protocol and disputes resolution framework.
  • Assist grazing disposition holders and timber companies in the development of Grazing Timber Agreements so both clients' interests are met and mediate any disputes that may arise between the two overlapping disposition holders to come up with creative solutions that protect both interests.
  • Implement range management practices on grazing dispositions and develop strategic practices with clientele that improves the range health of the disposition (rotational grazing, cross-fencing, water development, salting, stocking rates and improved distribution).
  • Develop and implement management plans jointly with clients and resource managers for individual dispositions (i.e. Range Management or Bison Management Plans).
  • Manage and administer grazing dispositions as it relates to range management, timber, oil and gas development and act as a liaison between the grazing community and resource companies.
  • Promote the sustainability of the range by minimizing the long term impact (footprint).
  • Manage emergency requests for grazing (sub-letting, Head Tax Permits) that may arise as a result of drought or other natural disasters.
  • Administer Recreational Access Regulations to ensure the grazing disposition holders and recreational users are complying with the regulations.
  • Authorize temporary field authorities on public land for improvements to lands under agricultural dispositions, i.e. fence lines, dugouts, field development.
     
  4.

Evaluate land within the current policies, directives and procedures to determine the highest and best sustainable use of public land.

Activities:

  • Evaluate the physical qualities of land by completing soil and vegetation analysis and assessing landscape suitability to determine the capability for the highest and best use of the land.
  • Assess public land to determine the range and riparian health condition, forage production and the grazing and carrying capacity of the disposition.
  • Appraise land to determine the market value for sale or land exchange purposes and the market rental for cultivated lands.
     
  5.

Make integrated decisions within the current legislation, regulations, policies and directives from Environment and Parks to facilitate a balance of sustainable land uses.

Activities:

  • Examine various conflicting land use requests, evaluate and construct solutions to balance them on the landscape. For example, finding a balance between grazing, oil and gas development, forest production and wildlife usage.
  • Coordinate referrals to and consult with other resource managers, local governments and stakeholders to make integrated land use decisions with multiple use objectives.
  • Provide conflict resolution for competing or conflicting land uses. Examples include consensus based decision-making and coordinated resource management.
  • Place and manage reservations such as protective and consultative notations to address management and development concerns on public lands. Ensure PNTs are mapped within the provincial data base.
  • Be available to participate as a member on committees to develop local and regional land management plans. These plans are eventually incorporated into local and regional land use decisions and strategies.
  • Provide input into land exchange agreements to the mutual benefit of both the provincial government and the client.
  • Evaluate and then allocate land by conducting auctions, initiating tenders, or recommending priority issuance.
  • Administer any Farm Holdings Consolidation Program applications.
  • Consult with First Nations on any new land applications.
     
  6.

Manage and administer vacant public land within existing legislation, regulations, policies and directives from Environment and Parks to provide a balance of development, use and conservation while maintaining biodiversity.

Activities:

  • Initiate and place protective notations on sensitive lands to conserve significant features and resources.
  • Ensure protection and conservation of publicly owned bed and shore of water bodies within agricultural dispositions by determining ownership and then regulating activities.
  • Investigate unauthorized use of bed and shore on agricultural dispositions and recommend appropriate actions and penalties. This may involve coordinating with Environment and Federal Department of Fisheries for possible joint enforcement under the Public Lands Act and Water Act.
  • Investigate unauthorized use of public land by agricultural users and recommend appropriate action or penalties.
  • Identify, evaluate and select appropriate remedial action for weed control and reclamation issues.
  • Coordinate and supervise contracts for weed control and agriculturally related reclamation projects on public land.
     
  7.

Ensure ministry resources are managed efficiently and effectively.

Activities:

  • Continually improve the quality of products and services provided to clients.
  • Employ new and innovative electronic and communication technology.
  • Maintain leading-edge knowledge of the latest technology through conferences, courses, seminars, literature and publication reviews.
  • Sustain professional competency through PAg membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologists.
     
  8.

Responsible to the Operations and Approvals staff to provide input into industrial and recreational
dispositions and/or activities that may have an impact on agricultural dispositions or are in conflict
with Protective Notations placed by Rangelands on vacant public land.

Activities:

  • Review and provide input into operating conditions or approvals on Sand and Gravel or commercial
    dispositions that affect agricultural dispositions.

Scope

 

The Rangeland Agrologist is responsible for the management of agricultural activities within the provincial public land base and associated activities.

This Agrologist position reports to the Rangeland Team Lead.

The Agrologist communicates regularly with clients by developing and transferring information on stewardship, sustainable use, integrated natural resource activity and livestock management practices in all aspects of public land management.

The Agrologist works cooperatively with staff, partners and clients in a self-managed work unit area. The work may involve politically sensitive issues requiring effective communication with the local MLAs, Regional Manager, Executive Directors and affected clients. This includes the preparation of briefing and advisory roles or providing a heads-up on potentially volatile issues generated from the field. The Agrologist acts as a resource person on issues occurring within Rangelands as well as for other branches, divisions and departments.

Public land management is broadly guided by statutes and their associated regulations; the Public Lands Act, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Forest Protection Act and, to a lesser degree, the Water Act. The Agrologist is responsible for a diversity of activities, clients, stakeholders and is actively involved in the continual evolution of resource management objectives, policies and procedures. These policies provide the framework for land use decisions and impact stakeholders at all levels. The Agrologist identifies emerging policy issues, provides input into policy formation and participates on committees and teams as a representative to help develop policies concerning public land management.

The Agrologist is actively involved, either as a team member or as a professional consultant, in the development and implementation of various plans. This includes integrated Resource Plans, Regional Integrated Decisions and Regional Development Strategies. The Agrologist will also work with clients and resource agencies to prepare recreational access solutions, bison management plans, shoreline conservation initiatives, grazing timber agreements and range improvement plans for agricultural dispositions within their district.

Conflicts over land use arise on a regular basis due to the wide variety of potential uses and stakeholders. The Agrologist requires advanced skills in mediation and conflict resolution, such as principled negotiation, to reduce conflict and make sound land use decisions. Problems are often unique and solutions are not always known. A broad knowledge base is required to bring participants to a decision. Solutions are often found using an extensive body of knowledge and from the experience gained through the job. Examples of broad based knowledge requirements include range and riparian management, soil science, geology, geomorphology, forestry, archaeology, geophysical operations, surface materials development, land appraisal, human resource management, negotiation and mediation skills, investigative skills, computer skills, construction and reclamation, agricultural land development procedures, analytical skills and general wildlife management.

Public land provides a valuable source of surface and sub-surface resources for which there is strong demand and competition. The Agrologist makes integrated decisions in consultation with other resource managers and considers the land capability and suitability, compatibility with other uses, local and regional plans, departmental regulations, policies and guidelines, stakeholder concerns, and local politics and issues. The Agrologist must have an in-depth knowledge of all activities that occur on public land and the impact those various activities may have on other uses. Creative solutions are required to balance complex challenges of development, use and conservation of the resources. Land use decisions are made by using a team approach in compiling, interpreting, understanding and applying information gathered from a wide variety of stakeholders and disciplines. The decisions may have a significant impact on the resources when development or utilization is approved and on the client by facilitating or denying opportunities to develop and utilize a particular resource.

A number of stakeholder or client groups may be involved in, or impacted by policies of the department and by the decision making process. Local stakeholders and clients also include resource agencies (fisheries, wildlife, forestry and water management), or individual clients (agricultural producers, oil and gas companies, geophysical companies, sand and gravel operators and recreational organizations), special interest groups (fish and game clubs, volunteer stewards, conservation groups, recreational clubs), political interests (town councils and mayors, county councilors and reeves, MLAs), municipalities, members of the general public and other government agencies (transportation, energy, parks). Other main stakeholder groups include the Northern Alberta Grazing Association, the Alberta Beef Producers Association, the Alberta Fish and Game Association, the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, the Western Stock Growers Association, the Alberta Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, and forest companies such as Weyerhaeuser, Ainsworth and Canfor.

Public land is used in a wide variety of ways from low impact activities such as hiking and bird watching to very intensive activities such as surface materials mining and oil and gas development. Uses include agricultural (grazing, haying and cultivation), industrial (oil and gas exploration, oil and gas development, mines and electrical transmission lines), commercial (sand, gravel, peat, tourism and quarries), watershed, wildlife habitat, recreational (campgrounds, agricultural society areas, gun ranges, trail networks, natural areas, hunting, fishing, berry picking) and residential. Many of these activities occur on any given parcel of agricultural public land which requires the Agrologist to have an integrated multi-disciplinary approach in developing and delivering information to the client to assist them in their management.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

 

Knowledge:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture or equivalent is required.
  • Professional Agrologist (P. Ag.) or eligibility for PAg, AIT) membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologists is required.
  • Continuing professional development is registered with the Alberta Institute of Agrologists and is required to maintain membership.
  • Extensive in-depth knowledge and understanding of the natural sciences such as soil science, range management, plant science, animal science, range health, range inventory, riparian management, watershed management, forage production, physical and geography and forest ecology.
  • Current knowledge of other resource management such as timber, fish and wildlife habitat, and water.
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of oilfield activities, surface materials development, other industrial activities as well as recreation development.
  • Knowledge of invasive weeds and control methods.
  • In-depth knowledge of land reclamation principles and practices and use of native seed.
  • Sound knowledge of the Public Lands Act, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, the Water Act, the Environmental Protection and Environment Act, the Forest Production Act, the Line Fence Act, the Stray Animals Act, the Weed Control Act and all regulations associated with these Acts.
  • A thorough knowledge of real estate principles in order to establish land values and rental charges and completion of the Appraisal Institute of Canada's Appraisal 101 course is required.
  • Extensive practical knowledge of land development procedures for both agricultural and industrial activities.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of contract management including project tendering, contract issuance and contract supervision.

Skills:

  • Advanced skills in mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution to de-escalate conflicts and make sound land use decisions. Negotiation, consensus building and managing conflict skills are essential.
  • Investigative and analytical skills for dealing with compliance and enforcement situations.
  • A creative ability is essential to solve complex problems to balance development and conservation with resource use needs.
  • Effective written and verbal communication including public speaking skills.
  • Ability to interpret serial photography, maps, agricultural regions of the Alberta soil inventory database and the Alberta vegetation inventory.
  • Computer literacy is required in Microsoft Word Suites, Geographic Land Information Mapping and Planning System (GLIMPS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Arc view and email applications.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Ability to be a team player.
  • Effective time management skills.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Aptitude for independent decision-making.
  • Orienteering skills (Geographic Positioning System, compass).
  • Skills in rough terrain driving including 4X4's and off highway vehicles.
  • Working knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety.
  • First Aid.
  • Bear awareness and outdoor survival skills.
  • Defensive driving skills.

In addition, knowledge of the various statutes and policies is essential and includes the Public Lands Act, Public Lands Administration Regulation, Forests Act, Timber Management Regulation, Alberta Land Stewardship Act, Natural Resources Conservation Act and Regulations, Mines and Minerals Act, Exploration Regulations, Metallic and Industrial Minerals Exploration Regulations, Prairie and Protection Act and Regulations, Land Activities Handbook, Forest Management Planning Manual, Regulated Forestry Profession Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Alberta Caribou Guidelines, Timber Operating Guidelines, Soil Conservation Guideline, Recreational Access Regulation.

Contacts

 
  • Regional Director - occasional contact for overall direction of the department and region.
  • Approvals Manager - periodic contact for ongoing issues, workload and direction when needed.
  • Rangeland Team Lead - daily contact for consistency with Rangeland management needs.

Supervision Exercised

  N/A

 

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