Position profile: Rangeland Agrologist

Learn more about the position in the job posting.

  • Job Title: Rangeland Agrologist
  • Work Unit: Operations Division / Approvals / Rangeland
  • Ministry: Environment and Parks
  • Competition Number: 1052353

Purpose

The Rangeland Agrologist oversees the agricultural public land base, primarily within an assigned district, to ensure and improve the long term sustainability of the resources, benefiting Albertans, rangeland users and the agricultural industry by maintaining a balance of development, use and conservation. This position has the authority to decide on the allocation of public land for agricultural uses through consultation with stakeholders and other agencies and facilitates the integration of other uses on rangeland. The Agrologist conducts planning to establish integrated uses and approves public rangeland management plans.

Professional scientific expertise is provided to clients, agricultural producers, and other professionals in government and industry on soils, range and riparian health, tame and native ecosystems to achieve rangeland stewardship and sustainability.

The agrologist mediates client and public disputes and generates creative solutions using conflict resolution and de-escalation skills to resolve issues over conflicting activities on public land. Participates on committees that identify issues and problems to formulate new land management policies that are provincial in scope and add to organizational goals.

This is a complex position that requires advanced professional skills, an extensive knowledge base in a number of disciplines as well an in depth knowledge of all activities that occur on public land in order to evaluate the land, analyze impacts and make integrated land use decisions.

Responsibilities and Activities

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

  • Deliver technology transfer individually or through partnerships by way of workshops, publications and individual client contact as well as to local governments to increase knowledge and enhance skills in specified areas affecting rangeland resources. Examples: riparian and range health assessment, public access, Stockman’s Course.
  • Provide technical information and advice to clients and the public on land management practices to ensure sustainable production, conservation and reclamation (for example tame species, weed control, land development after logging, natural recovery).
  • Participate and partner in research projects to improve conservation and reclamation, and agricultural land practices. Examples: range recovery after drought, native range production and recovery.
  • Partner with Range Management Specialist on field-testing new assessment techniques.
  • Participate on Departmental and external teams and committees as a resource person.
  • Mediate client and public disputes using conflict resolution, de-escalation skills, principled negotiation, and consensus based decision-making techniques. Using input from the Farmers Advocate or Ombudsmen to resolve issues over conflicting activities/uses of public rangeland, address concerns to encourage the continued use of sound rangeland management practices. Disputes tend to be emotionally charged at the onset and must be de-escalated prior to achieving resolution. Examples: access on grazing lease, logging on grazing lease, fence line disputes and compensation for damages, Sec. 109 (Grazing Association Membership) appeals.
Provide input into public rangeland management and operational policy and program development within the policies and directives of SRD to ensure regional concerns are addressed.
  • Identify and recognize strategic issues that require policy formulation and forward the issues to the Rangeland Management Branch and/or the Area’s Land and Range Manager.
  • Participate on committees to formulate and develop policies and procedures that are provincial in scope or are focused on regional land use issues.
  • Reviews draft policies and provide direct input to Rangeland Management Branch or the Area Land and Range Manager.
Directs and administer rangeland dispositions and activities within the legislation, regulations, policies and directives in SRD to provide benefits to rangeland users while ensuring that the quality of land is sustained.
  • Evaluate rangeland dispositions. (Examples: grazing leases, forest grazing licenses, grazing reserves and grazing permits, farm development permits, cultivation permits, hay permits and agricultural uses on Natural Areas or Heritage Rangelands) to ensure fulfillment of regulations, disposition conditions and to evaluate land stewardship, land conservation and reclamation. Communicate with the activity holder regarding deficiencies and required action. Act as a liaison between agricultural disposition holders and forest companies, encourage and support implementation grazing and timber integration, and respond to disputes between agricultural disposition holders and timber disposition holders. Make decisions to issue, renew, cancel or take enforcement actions on dispositions based on field inspections, interviews with disposition holders and fulfillment of expected land stewardship principles.
  • Assess public rangeland to determine riparian and rangeland health and condition, forage production, grazing and carrying capacity.
  • Participate with Agricultural Development Committees on all agricultural appeals of enforcement actions.
  • Authorize temporary activities on public rangeland (i.e. stock watering system, spraying weeds).
  • Assist on grazing reserve issues as it relates to rangeland management, access, oil and gas development and act as a liaison between various land users and the grazing association.
  • Work with the agricultural disposition holder to implement rangeland management practices on grazing dispositions and develop practices that improve range health (rotation, cross fencing, water, salt, stocking rates, distribution).
  • Develop and implement rangeland management plans jointly with clients and Resource Managers.
  • Promote the sustainability of the range by minimizing the long term impact (footprint).
  • Make decisions on emergency requests for grazing (subletting, Head Tax Permits).
  • Implement the Compliance and Enforcement Framework to address non-compliance activities, and make decisions and recommendations with regards to decreased tenure or cancellation, or fines and penalties.
  • Carry out ecological assessments on grazing leases in support of Business Measures audit process.
  • Implement grazing in protected areas through the Memorandum of Understanding with Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
Evaluate land within the current policies, directives and procedures to determine the highest and best sustainable use of public land.
  • Evaluate public land to determine agricultural capability or sale.
  • Appraise land to determine market value.
Make integrated decisions within the current legislation, regulations, policies and directives from SRD to facilitate a balance of sustainable land uses.
  • 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).
  • Coordinate referrals to and consult with other resource managers, local governments and stakeholders to make integrated land use decisions, which unifies multiple use objectives.
  • Provide conflict resolution for competing or conflicting land uses. Example: consensus based decision-making and coordinated resource administration.
  • Place and administer reservations such as protective and consultative notations to address rangeland management and development concerns.
  • Conduct planning to establish agricultural uses and approves management plans on agricultural public lands.
  • Collaborate to develop local and regional land management plans (Heritage Rangeland Management Plans for example).
  • Approve land exchange agreements to the mutual benefit of the government and the client.
  • Allocate land by conducting auctions, initiating tenders and recommending priority issuance.
  • Develop Recreational Access Management Plans to facilitate reasonable recreational access on agricultural public land.
Oversees and administer vacant public land within existing legislation, regulations, policies and directives from SRD to provide a balance of development, use and conservation while maintaining biodiversity.
  • Initiate and place notations relative to rangeland interests.
  • Investigate unauthorized agricultural use of bed and shore and recommend appropriate actions and penalties. Coordinate with Environment and Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for possible joint enforcement under the Public Lands Act and Water Act.
  • Investigate unauthorized agricultural use of public land and recommend appropriate action or penalties.
  • Identify, evaluate and select appropriate remedial action for weed control and reclamation problems.
  • Issue and administers contracts for weed control and reclamation projects.
Ensure ministry resources are handled efficiently and effectively.
  • Continually improve quality of products and services provided to clients.
  • Employ new and innovative electronic and communication technology to provide quality client service.
  • Maintain leading-edge knowledge of the latest technology through conferences, courses, seminars, and literature and publication reviews.
  • Sustain professional competency through membership in appropriate professional associations.

Scope

Within the assigned district, the Rangeland Agrologist is responsible for the agricultural public lands in a designated area and the integration of associated activities on that land base. The agrologist leads the development and transfer of information on stewardship, sustainable use and integrated natural resource and livestock practices to the client base for all aspects of public rangeland management. The agrologist presents the information developed to client groups and individuals by way of tours, public meetings, presentations at conferences or meetings and one to one client contact.

The agrologist works cooperatively with staff, partners and clients in a self-directed work unit. The Agrologist handles politically sensitive issues, which require effective communication with the local MLA’s, Area Managers, Program Directors and affected clients. This includes preparing detailed information to be incorporated into briefing and advisory notes or providing a heads up on potentially volatile issues from the field. The agrologist acts as a resource person on issues occurring in the Area as well as for other Branches, Divisions and Departments.

Rangeland management is broadly guided by four statutes and their associated regulations; The Public Lands Act, The Forest Reserves Act, The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, The Forest Protection Act and, to a lesser degree, The Water Act. Due to the diversity of activities, clients, stakeholders and the continual evolution of resource administration objectives, policies and procedures guide operational direction. 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 review and formation and participates on committees and teams as a representative of the regional or provincial field staff to develop policies concerning rangeland and agricultural activity.

The Rangeland Agrologist is actively involved, either as the chair, a team member or as a professional consultant, in the development and implementation of plans. Plans may be at a regional scale or a local scale, and may be cross-ministry or include other government agencies. The agrologist will also work with clients and resource agencies to prepare integrated resource administration plans, grazing timber agreements, riparian conservation initiatives and recreational access management plans for individual dispositions within the 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 and coordinated resource administration to de-escalate the conflict and make sound land use decisions. Problems are often unique and solutions are not always known, as a result, creativity and a broad knowledge base is required to bring participants to a decision. Solutions are found using an extensive body of knowledge and the experience gained through the job. Examples: range and riparian area management, soil science, geology, geomorphology, forestry, archaeology, geophysical operations, surface materials development, land appraisal techniques, human resource skills, negotiation and mediation skills, investigative skills, computer skills, construction and reclamation techniques, analytical skills, endangered species and general wildlife advice.

Agricultural public land provides a valuable source of surface and subsurface resources for which there is strong demand and competition. The Rangeland agrologist participates in integrated decisions in consultation with Resource Managers and considers 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 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 include resource agencies (Fisheries, Wildlife, Forestry, Water Management, Historical Resources, and Parks and Protected Areas), individual clients (agricultural producers, oil and gas companies, geophysical companies, sand and gravel operators, peat mining companies, quarry operators, and recreational users), special interest groups (fish and game clubs, volunteer stewards, conservation groups, recreational clubs), political (town councils and mayors, county councillors and reeves, MLA’s) municipalities, members of the general public, and other government agencies (Transportation, Energy, Parks).

Major Stakeholder groups include the Rocky Mountain Forest Range Association, Alberta Grazing Lease Holders Association, Alberta Grazing Association, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Alberta Wilderness Association, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Western Stock Growers Association, Alberta Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, Alberta Beef Producers, Western Stock Growers Association and several Forest companies (i.e. Weyerhaeuser, Ainsworth, Canfor).

Public lands are 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 geophysical programs. Uses include agricultural (grazing, haying and cultivation), industrial (oil and gas exploration, oil and gas development and transmission, 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. Generally two or more of these activities will be occurring simultaneously on any given parcel of public land which requires the Agrologist to have an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach in developing and delivering information to the client to assist them.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Knowledge:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture or equivalent is required.
  • Professional Agrologist (P. Ag.) or eligible for membership in the Alberta Institute of Agrologists is required as per the Agrologists Act.
  • Continuing professional development is registered with the Alberta Institute of Agrologists and is required to maintain membership.
  • In depth knowledge and understanding in natural sciences such as soil science, range management, plant science, animal science, range health, range inventory, riparian management, watershed management, forage production, physical geography and forest ecology.
  • Thorough knowledge of resource administration such as timber, endangered species advice, fish and wildlife habitat, and water.
  • In depth knowledge of land reclamation principles and practices and use of native seed.
  • Sound knowledge of the Public Lands Act, Forest Reserves Act, Water Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, The Forest Protection Act, Line Fence Act, Stray Animals Act, Weed Control Act and their associated Regulations. Thorough knowledge of real estate appraisal principals in order to establish values for land and improvements. Completion of Appraisal Institute of Canada’s Appraisal 101 course is required.
  • Extensive practical knowledge of land development techniques dealing with both the agricultural and industrial fields.
  • Creativity, flexibility and balancing skills when dealing with a wide range of complex issues.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of contract administration including project tendering, contract issuance and contract supervision.
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of geophysical operations, oil and gas development and production, recreation as well as surface materials development all relative to rangeland management.

Skills and Abilities:

  • Advanced skills in mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution to de-escalate conflicts and make sound land use decisions. Negotiations, consensus building and conflict resolution skills are essential.
  • Interpersonal relationship knowledge and the ability to motivate clients, partners and interest groups.
  • Investigative and analytical skills.
  • Creative ability to solve complex problems is essential when balancing development, conservation and use of resources.
  • Effective written and verbal communication including public speaking skills.
  • Ability to lead working groups and to be a team player.
  • Ability to interpret aerial photography, maps, Soil and Vegetation Inventory Databases.
  • Computer literacy in a Windows platform including Microsoft Word Suites, Geographic Land Information and Planning System, Land Standing Automated System, Arc View and e-mail.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Effectively organize time and duties.
  • 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 Occupation Health and Safety.

Contacts

Professional scientific advice is provided to clients, agricultural producers, and other professionals in government and industry on soils, range and riparian health, tame and native ecosystems through workshops, publications, individual client contact, etc. to achieve rangeland stewardship and sustainability. The Agrologist mediates (using conflict resolution and de-escalation skills) client and public disputes regarding issues on public land. The Agrologist handles politically sensitive issues with require effective communication with local MLAs, Area Managers, Program Directors and affected clients.

Local stakeholders and clients include resource agencies (Fish and Wildlife, Forestry, Water, Historical Resources, Parks and Protected Areas, etc.) individual clients, special interest groups, (fish and game clubs, conservation groups, etc.), political contacts (town councils and mayors, county councillors, reeves, MLAs), agricultural stakeholder groups (Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association, Alberta Beef Producers, Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve Association, etc.) and members of the general public.

Supervision Exercised

The Agrologist may supervises wage and/or project staff (such as Riparian Agrologist�s) who are generally classified as Agrologist 1.

The Government of Alberta is committed to a diverse and inclusive public service that reflects the population we serve to best meet the needs of Albertans. Consider joining a team where diversity, inclusion and innovation are valued and supported. For more information on diversity and inclusion, please visit the Diversity and Inclusion Policy.