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Hydrologists & Planning & Environmental Coordinators | BLM (Part 3)

In parts 1 and 2 of this series we explored Petroleum Engineer and Archeologist positions with the BLM. In part 3 and final installment, we feature planning and environmental coordinator (GS-0301) and hydrologist (GS-1315) occupations.

Planning and Environmental Coordinator (GS-0301)


BLM Planning Coordination Meeting
BLM Planning Coordination Meeting


Kristy Swartz is a GS-0301-12/13 planning and environmental coordinator who is stationed at the BLM Fire & Aviation Directorate, which is at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, ID.

Swartz was previously a firefighter before moving into the fuels management program. She believes, “that the restoration work that we do before a fire starts is so important – both for the natural resources as well as for our human environment that we share.” Swartz enjoys being involvedin environmental planning and working collaboratively with stakeholders to reach consensus on how to move forward to achieve restoration objectives. She reveals that, “we can accomplish the work on the ground that will help protect and improve our natural and human environment.”

Swartz is excited about her career and relates, “we reach consensus on challenging topics and are able to initiate projects that move us towards our goals. I also love the challenges and diversity of issues that we work with and learning a little bit about the perspectives of each resource specialist and our stakeholders.”

Some of the baseline requirements on performing the job include    understanding policies, environmental laws and how the government works. She contends that you must be able to, “facilitate effective meetings (or find someone who can), listen and support the staff assigned to your project(s) so they can be effective in their work.”  You must understand your role and responsibilities.

In this position, you will need to interpret, provide guidance, develop, and implement planning on various programs such as Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs).  Additionally, ensure that the plans documentation meets all relevant prescribed quality standards and complies with all Federal Land Policy and other environmental and quality policies or programs.

Other required skills are writing of various issue papers, briefings and other public presentations.  Knowledge, principles, concepts, and techniques of land use planning.  Coordinating inventory and data collection, monitor budgets and act as technical liaison between Field Offices and other entities to include State and local governments and other external customers.

Both A GS-11 and GS-12 will need 1 year of specialized experience at the next lowest grade level.  Each can have specialized experience that includes planning and environmental specialist related work in Natural Resource Programs. Other specialized experience is in land use and multiple use and resource management planning, being a lead or a member of an interdisciplinary team tasked with review and analysis of various documents to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Assist in developing public land related planning and strategies.

The GS-12 grade level in addition to the above mentioned specialized experience should also have budget and programming, planning, professional writing, policy development and monitoring and perform program audits.  At this grade level there is no substitution for education.

You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for a planning and environmental coordinator position, and a GS-11/12 will earn $58,562.00 to $91,255.00 per year.

Michael Hildner, is a GS-301-12 planning and environmental coordinator located in the BLM Washington D.C. Office.

Hildner wanted to help manage public lands on behalf of the American people. He strives to ensure, “the best balance of uses and resource protections for America’s public lands. The BLM undertakes extensive land use planning through a collaborative approach with local, state, and tribal governments, the public, user groups and industry. The result is a set of land use plans – called Resource Management Plans (RMP) – that provide the framework to guide decisions for every action and approved use on over 245 million acres of surface land and 700 million acres of subsurface minerals.”

Hildner explains, “The BLM prepares RMPs for areas of public lands, called planning areas, which tend to have similar resource characteristics. RMPs are used to allocate resources and determine appropriate multiple uses for the public lands, develop a strategy to manage and protect resources; and establish systems to monitor and evaluate status of resources and effectiveness of management practices over time.”

Hildner comments that, “education requirements vary, however a background in science, and experience in leadership positions with effective communication skills will serve you well. Experience in leading teams of resource specialists in preparing land use plans for BLM resource areas is essential. Teams represent the full range of BLM programs such as range, forestry, minerals, lands, wildlife, hydrology, archeology, and recreation”.

Hydrologist (GS-1315)


BLM Hydrology Particle Sampling
BLM Hydrology Particle Sampling


Bryce Bohn, is a GS-1315-13 hydrologist, who is located at the BLM Idaho State Office in Boise, ID.

Bohn was interested in becoming a hydrologist when he participated in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program in high school. He states, “I became interested in being a hydrologist when a Forest Service hydrologist came to talk about his job.From that moment on, all of my education and career planning was directed towards being a hydrologist.  Since entering federal service, I have been the forest hydrologist on four National Forests before becoming the state hydrologist for BLM-Idaho.”

Bohn is excited about his career because, “I use my training and education to make a difference in the quality of the environment. I love being responsible for the protection, restoration and monitoring of aquatic resources on public lands in the west. It is a job that allows me to make a difference in the quality of people’s lives as well as the quality of the environment that persists long into the future”.

Bohn suggests that individual interested in becoming  a hydrologist to, “talk to as many people as you can. Read books and professional literature to see what the current research topics are. Never forget that the success of any science hinges upon the effective communication of your findings and making it relevant to the public. Develop your people skills with the same focus and urgency as you develop your scientific skills.  Hydrology is a field of engineering that you can specialize in any number of sub-disciplines such as groundwater, dams and irrigation, snow hydrology or wildland hydrology.”

The major duties of a hydrologist at the GS-09 level include planning, coordinating projects that involve analysis and evaluation of flow and transport of sediment and pollutants in stream channels and ground water. Give technical advice relevant to water rights applications and claims, review flood forecasts and apply flood forecasting procedures that will determine short-term flood risks and serve on various interdisciplinary teams. One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-07 level in hydrologic related work is required.

In addition to all the major duties at the GS-09 level a GS-11 hydrologist must also be able to perform a variety of hydrologic models to generate information on high flows, channel behavior, and sedimentation, calibrating hydrologic models to account for changes in land use patterns and modifying modeling procedures to model validity.  Serve as a subject matterexpert on water resources; perform negotiations for agreements for the use of federally owned water resources.  Make recommendations on the availability of water for BLM administration responsibilities. One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-09 level in hydrologic related work.

The education requirements include a degree in physical, natural science, or engineering.  You must have at least 30 semester hours in a combination of courses in hydrology, the physical sciences, geophysics, chemistry, engineering science, soils, mathematics, aquatic biology, atmospheric science, meteorology, geology, oceanography, or the management or conversation of water resources.  Additional course work can include 6 semester hours in calculus and physics.

The hydrologist has a specialized skill set and you must be a U.S. citizen to apply. A GS-09/11 earns $48,403.00 to $76,131.00 per year.

Ed Rumbold, is aGS-1315-12 hydrologist who works at the BLM Colorado State Office in Lakewood, CO.


BLM Hydrological Event at Big Wood River, ID
BLM Hydrological Event at Big Wood River, ID


Rumbold always has had an interest in water. He relates, “growing up I spent a lot of time fishing, skipping stones, swimming, skating, camping and participating in Boy Scouts in upstate New York. Closures of beaches along Lake Ontario due to Mercury always concerned me.”

Rumbold indicates, “the collection, analysis and reporting of surface and groundwater data is just one exciting part of being a hydrologist. It is particularly exciting to see new software, models and equipment make water resources analysis more efficient, and accurate I also greatly enjoy working with other stakeholders in accomplishing these types of efforts”.

Rumbold encourages those interested in entering this field to, “take advantage of opportunities to study aspects of streams, water and climate, or at least give it test run to determine whether or not it’s a good fit”.

The BLM offers many unique and varied programs.  Also, go ahead and explore the vast careers opportunities that the BLM has to offer.


  • Samantha Storms, Public Relations Officer, National Office of New Media, BLM Washington D.C.
  • The Bureau of Land Management’s public relations department supplied the photographs used in this article.
  • The BLM web site at http://www.blm.gov

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About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.