Ocean Career: CA Coastal Commission Ecologist

The California Coastal Commission is seeking an experienced Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) to join its Technical Services Unit (Ecology Group). The Ecology Group supports Commission staff with review and analysis of proposed development regarding potential adverse impacts on coastal resources and conformance with Coastal Act natural resource policies, including those certified in Local Coastal Plans (LCPs) and similar plans.

Under the direction of the Ecology Group Environmental Program Manager, the successful incumbent will be integrated into the existing team and work with Commission staff to address a variety of ecological issues raised in the Commission’s policy, planning and regulatory work. A substantial portion of the incumbent’s work will focus on major transportation projects and programs throughout the coastal zone, including coordination with the Commission’s Transportation Program Team. The incumbent will be expected to: independently review and analyze a variety of biological reports including EIRs and EISs; conduct research and investigations often involving complex environmental conditions/circumstances; identify problems including potential adverse impacts and ways to avoid and minimize these; factor in climate change dynamics relative to environmental considerations; coordinate with other federal, state, and local agencies; and, make recommendations for compliance with the natural resource policies of the Coastal Act and relevant certified plans. An important responsibility will be engaging in early collaboration with Commission staff and project proponents to develop appropriate habitat mitigation proposals.

Key functions of the job include writing complex memoranda, contributing to staff report findings and special conditions, answering questions from the public, making verbal staff presentations to the Coastal Commission and supporting Commission deliberation. The incumbent will also represent the Coastal Commission on multi-agency work groups, task forces, and similar entities; to staff of local, state, and federal agencies; the legislature; special interest groups; and to the broader public. The position offers opportunities for developing and contributing expertise on specific habitats and species as well as on relevant and emerging ecological issues. Examples of desired expertise include but are not limited to forest and riparian habitats, shrublands, grasslands, wetlands, coastal dunes, specific animal groups such as birds, bats, salmonids and pollinators and broader topics such as climate resilience and adaptation, hydroacoustics and terrestrial noise, artificial night lighting, fish passage, wildlife crossings, nature-based adaptation, vegetation management for fire, and emerging habitat restoration practices.


  • Coordinating with the Commission’s technical staff (in ecology, water quality, geology and engineering), transportation staff, coastal analysts, legal staff, enforcement staff, and management, on a wide variety of planning and regulatory projects;
  • Contributing to the improvement and facilitation of biology-related consultations with other state and federal agency staff, including from Caltrans, CA State Parks, CA Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife, NOAA and others to support cross-agency collaboration and consistency and to assure that proposed development includes positive environmental outcomes and adequate compensation for habitat, wetland, and other coastal resource impacts in a manner that meets the State’s conservation priorities consistent with the Coastal Act;
  • Reviewing and analyzing technical documents (biological reports, environment impact reports, etc.) associated with proposed development projects and performing independent analysis against natural resource policies in the Coastal Act and other planning documents including certified Local Coastal Programs, Public Works Plans, and Port Master Plans;
  • Conducting site visits to evaluate on-the-ground ecological conditions;
  • Writing technical memoranda to support and accompany Commission staff reports;
  • Assisting development of natural resource permit condition recommendations and preparing the corroborating natural resource policy sections of legal findings;
  • Providing early input into compensatory mitigation project requirements, goals, and proposed work as well as opportunities for advance mitigation and mitigation banking;
  • Reviewing and analyzing restoration and mitigation plans for regulatory compliance, with an eye toward guiding adaptive management;
  • Serving as an internal ecological consultant to Commission staff throughout the agency and to appointed Coastal Commissioners;
  • Participating in and contributing to long-term planning efforts, regional conservation investment strategies (RCIS), establishment of conservation easements and long-term management plans, coordination of advisory bodies, etc.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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