Research Permits


The National Park Service (NPS) encourages appropriately reviewed natural resource studies whenever such studies are consistent with applicable laws and policies.Scientific natural resource collecting activities are governed by 36 CFR 2.5. A very limited number of other types of natural resource collecting are governed by 36 CFR 2.1.

Scientific research supports the NPS mission by providing the Service, the scientific community, and the public with an understanding of park resources and access to the highest quality scientific information. It also ensures that research is conducted safely and in a manner that does not threaten or impact the park or visitor experiences in Acadia National Park.


Who needs a research permit?

Per National Park Service Management Policies, non-NPS studies, including data and specimen collection, require an NPS scientific research and collecting permit. The studies must conform to NPS policies and guidelines regarding the collection and publication of data, the conduct of studies, wilderness restrictions, and park-specific requirements identified in the terms and conditions of the permit. Non-NPS studies conducted in parks are not required to address specifically identified NPS management issues or information needs.

Students who propose to conduct research studies must have a representative from their institution or agency serve as a co-investigator.


When Should I Get A Research Permit?

All research permit applications must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of planned field activities. Some permits may require longer to review and approve, so submitting 45-60 days in advance of fieldwork is advisable. Projects that may take longer to review include those that require permits from other agencies, work with vertebrates (which will require NPS IACUC approval), and research that requires review by experts outside of our park staff.

Permit Expiration

Research permits are authorized on a calendar year basis, starting when your permit is issued and expiring in December of that same year. After this date, your permit is no longer valid.

Renewing A Permit

Your permit may be renewed if your project needs additional time to be completed. Modifications or amendments to your originally proposed project must be submitted 30 days in advance of any fieldwork when you apply for a new permit. We recommend that you submit these changes when you are renewing your permit at the beginning of the calendar year.


How Do I Get A Research Permit?

After reviewing the this page, go to Research Permit and Reporting System to complete the application. There you will:

  • submit an application form
  • upload a study proposal, and
  • upload copies of existing peer reviews or the names of individuals you recommend to review your proposal.
  • upload a document thoroughly answering the following questions:
    • What is the purpose of your study?

    • What methods will you use, including dates of fieldwork and location?

    • How will the study likely impact natural and cultural resources, even if those impacts will likely be minimal? And how do you plan to minimize those impacts?

    • How will the study likely impact visitor experiences?

    • How do you plan to manage and share your data?

    • How do you plan to manage your safety during your fieldwork?

The RPRS also has frequently asked questions, links to other research-related websites, and links submit reports detailing the accomplishments of ongoing or completed research projects.

Terms and Conditions

You will also need to agree to uphold Acadia National Park-specific permit conditions. Breach of any of the terms of your permit or violation of park regulations will be grounds for revocation of your permit and denial of future permits.

Learn more about general conditions for scientific research in the National Park Service.

Specimin Collection

If you are planning on collecting specimens as part of your field work, you must agree to additional terms and conditions regarding collections. Visit our Collecting Specimens page for a list of permit conditions.


What To Expect After You Apply For Your Permit?

Permit Review Process

Once you apply, the Science Coordinator will consult with park staff and outside subject-area experts to ensure that:

  • proposed work is scientifically valid,
  • will not harm the park's natural and cultural resources,
  • will not unduly affect park visitors or staff,
  • follows the appropriate policies and conditions, and
  • can be conducted safely.

We may ask for supplemental information if necessary. We endeavor to treat all investigators fairly.

Once your research permit has been approved, you will be notified by the Science Coordinator or the Science Information Specialist.

Reporting Requirements

Once you are issued a research permit, the following reporting requirements will be required:

Annual Investigators Report

By March 31st of each calendar year, you are required to submit an Investigator's Annual Report (IAR) through the Research Permit and Reporting System whether or not you are renewing your permit. The IAR is an approved report form through which permit holders submit an annual report on the objectives and findings of their studies. A permit condition requires the permittee to submit an IAR for each year the permit is active.

You will also submit a final IAR when your research is complete.

Final Report

In addition to the final IAR, when your research is complete you will upload a final report to RPRS within 90 days of the completion of your project including some metadata (title, authors, permits, abstract) and attach a document.

We also request that you email us copies of all reports, papers, etc. related to your research in Acadia National Park. These reports, papers, etc. will be kept in the park's bibliography and archives so they can be used in future research and education programs and to inform park management decisions.


Contact Us

To inquire about a research permit, contact:
Science Information and Communications Manager
Emma Albee

To inquire about a scientific report, contact:
Science Coordinator
Abe Miller-Rushing
(207) 288-8733
(207) 288-8709 (fax)

To inquire about museum collections and park archives, contact:
Museum Curator
Marie Yarborough

For More Information

For existing research reports, visit our Research Reports and Data Sets page.

For information on research across the National Park Service, visit the Explore Nature page.

For more information about our science partnerships, visit our Partners in Science page.

Last updated: May 26, 2022

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