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Wildfire & Land Use Planning Specialist

About the job:

Are you passionate about reducing wildfire risks and making a tangible difference in safeguarding communities? Join the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program at Headwaters Economics.

CPAW is a national initiative dedicated to providing tailored wildfire risk reduction strategies for communities, focusing on land use planning solutions such as building codes, subdivision regulations, and zoning. We are seeking a dedicated professional with extensive experience in land use planning to help lead our efforts in partnering with rural and urban communities across the nation. This new position will work closely with Headwaters Economics’ team of community assistance leads, researchers, data engineers, and communications experts, in addition to external consultants.

About the team:

Headwaters Economics is an independent, nonprofit research group that works to improve community development and land management decisions. We inform community decision-making and identify practical solutions by making complex data understandable, beautiful, and interactive. We help develop solutions that communities and policymakers use to address climate vulnerabilities, socioeconomic inequities, challenges facing rural communities, and threats to land and water. We blend innovative, credible research with extensive on-the-ground experience. We support communities in adapting to wildfire, flood, and other climate-driven disasters through technical assistance programs. Learn more.

Headwaters Economics’ CPAW team provides free technical assistance to help communities reduce wildfire risks through land use planning, compelling communications, and applied research. Learn more.


Deliver Community Assistance (50%)

  • Regularly engage and coordinate with partners (e.g., local government staff, fire departments) through in-person meetings, phone calls, video calls, and emails. Give presentations and translate technical information for local government staff and elected officials, HOAs, fire councils, tribal organizations, nonprofit groups, and other key stakeholders.
  • Develop and deliver wildfire risk-reduction products to community partners. Deliverables may include products created in-house by Headwaters Economics and by consultants and will include land use planning and policy recommendations, prioritization of mitigation activities, communication products, grant writing assistance, and customized research.
  • Deploy, manage, and oversee consultants (including land use planners, grant writers, and others) to develop robust partnerships that meet community needs and ensure deliverables meet CPAW standards.
  • Manage and oversee consultants (including land use planners, grant writers, and others) to ensure deliverables meet community needs and CPAW standards.
  • Plan and coordinate site visits including agenda development, partner meetings, presentations, task follow-up, and logistics.

Help Administer the CPAW Program (15%)

  • Help recruit new communities into our programs through active outreach and presentations at webinars and conferences. Onboard new communities and establish MOUs with specific scopes of work for CPAW services.
  • Help manage program operations and administration, including tracking activities and deliverables, managing budgets, overseeing consultants, and reporting on program outcomes.
  • Help create general program materials, such as overview documents, presentations, and content for websites.

Represent the CPAW Program (15%)

  • Communicate and collaborate regularly with partners beyond individual communities, including federal and state agencies, industry professionals in construction and insurance, academic contacts, and nonprofits.
  • Give presentations at professional conferences, state agency meetings, state and regional planning meetings, etc.

Contribute to Headwaters Economics’ Mission and Culture (20%)

  • Support colleagues at Headwaters Economics by participating in team meetings, contributing to organizational strategy and communications, and helping develop proposal ideas.
  • Help identify and develop research products that address community needs.

Experience and skills:

We are looking for individuals who can demonstrate:

  • 10 years of experience in land use planning, hazard mitigation planning, or related field in the public or private sectors.
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in urban planning, Environmental Science, emergency management, or related field.
  • Proven record managing projects and contractors for complex, multi-partner programs with budgets over $500k.
  • Ability to develop and maintain close, productive relationships with internal and external partners.
  • Experience working with local governments, federal agencies, and state agencies.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Exceptional skill in verbal communication and confidence delivering presentations to public and professional audiences.
  • Writing skills for community briefings, grant reports, and proposals.
  • Desire and enthusiasm for taking initiative, solving problems, and developing strategies.
  • Experience adapting to the latest technologies and software.
  • Willingness to travel (approximately monthly) to in-person meetings and site visits with community partners.

Additional preferred skills:

  • Technical knowledge of wildfire mitigation for the built environment, including knowledge of wildfire transmission and home ignition zone.

Compensation & Benefits:

  • Minimum salary is $90,000 with an upper range depending on experience.
  • Generous benefits package includes health/dental/vision insurance, matched retirement up to 3% of salary, health/dependent care savings accounts, progressive family medical leave policy, and generous paid time off.
  • Scheduling flexibility and healthy work/life balance.
  • Inspiring work that benefits people and the environment.
  • Energetic team with a strong sense of shared purpose and positive culture.
  • Learning opportunities and professional growth (resources, training, conferences, etc.).


Helena, Montana preferred. Headwaters Economics also has an office in Bozeman, Montana. Fully remote work will not be considered at this time.

To Apply:

We are accepting applications until the position is filled.

Please contact us:

Patty Hernandez, Executive Director | 406-599-7425
Kelly Pohl, Associate Director | 406- 599-7841
Calls encouraged.

Headwaters Economics is an Equal Opportunity Employer.