Scientific Research and Collection of Specimens
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
Scientific Studies in National Parks
In addition to park-based research, the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (BELA) permits research proposed by scientists associated with other governmental agencies and universities. All research proposals submitted through the Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) website are reviewed by an interdisciplinary team and approved by the park superintendent. Study proposals may require modification and/or adherence to specific stipulations prior to granting approval.
Collection of Specimens
No artifacts, specimens or samples may be collected in BELA unless authorized on the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit. Applications are submitted online at the National Park Service’s RPRS website.
The permit application must specify:
- the kinds of specimens to be collected and whether those specimens will be consumed during the investigation or permanently retained
- the number of specimens expected to be collected
- funding availability to process (i.e., catalog, label) collected specimens according to NPS standards
- the name of the proposed repository for storage of collected specimens. If a non-NPS repository is chosen, Appendix A of the RPRS application must be signed by a repository official indicating that the proposed institution will accept the specimens on long-term loan.
Copies of field notes, data, maps, photographs & photo logs, reports, publications, and other associated records generated as a result of scientific research activities conducted within any BELA park unit are required when specimen collection is authorized on the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit. This material will be archived in the park’s Museum Collections and made availabe for future research use. Without such archival contextual information, the scientific significance of the specimens collected would be greatly diminished.
Specimen Collection Requirements
Once issued a collecting permit, a researcher must comply with NPS/BELA specific conditions or restrictions contained in the permit. All specimens collected within a National Park, as well as their derivatives and byproducts, remain the property of the federal government. By law, it is not possible for the National Park Service to transfer ownership of such specimens to private individuals or institutions. Formal loan of collections is possible, provided the borrowing institution meets NPS standards.
Specimens to be consumed or destroyed through analysis during the processing period need not be cataloged but should be documented. In such cases, the final report from the researcher should contain all data derived from consumed specimens. The final report will be accessioned and cataloged into the park museum collections along with any other reports, publications, and etc, resultuing from the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit.
Specimens destined for permanent retention, regardless of where they are housed, must be accessioned and cataloged into the Interior Collection Management System (ICMS) and must bear NPS accession and catalog numbers and labels. Original or archival copies of associated field notes, maps, and other such materials must be provided to the NPS. This is the case whether the researcher is a federal government employee, a federal government contract researcher, or independent researcher.
Specimen Storage, Loan and Treatment Requirements
Specimens collected from NPS areas remain the property of the federal government although they may be formally loaned to a qualified institution with the approval of the park. Loans may be of short or long term duration with the option to extend the loan if all loan conditions have been met. Loans give borrowers temporary custody, not title. Conservation treatment and destructive or consumptive testing of specimens on loan must be approved in advance by the NPS. Additionally, NPS specimens may not be loaned to a third party.
Accessioning and Cataloging Responsibilities
All accession and catalog numbers for WEAR collections are assigned by the Regional Registrar. The NPS assigns one accession number to a group of related materials from a single field effort. Within that accession, individual specimens are assigned unique catalog numbers. In both numbering systems, the first four letters are the park’s official NPS acronym (BELA). Accession numbers contain five digits and are written with a hyphen and leading zeros to distinguish them from catalog numbers which have no leading zeros or hyphen:
BELA-00123 Accession Number
BELA 12345 Catalog Number
All research projects must include funding to process and ship collections. This includes: cataloging with NPS catalog numbers, labeling, cleaning, storage in archival quality bags and boxes, producing catalog records on an Excel spreadsheet, and secure trackable shipment of collected material to the ARCC.
Interior Collection Management System (ICMS)
It is the researcher’s responsibility to create catalog records for the NPS collections database, regardless of where the specimens will be stored. The NPS museum catalog is the official record for the agency and ensures our ability to track, account for, and retrieve vouchers and other pertinent data related to research conducted within the parklands. The Regional Registrar can assist you by providing a template for catalog records on an Excel spreadsheet with sample entries.
Please contact the Regional Registrar at any time with questions that may arise. We are here to help you comply with the terms of your permit under current regulations.
Katie Myers, Curator
Alaska Regional Curatorial Center