Research Permits

Revueltosaurus Quarry jackets
Revueltosaurus Quarry


Scientific research is very important to the mission of the National Park Service and to Petrified Forest National Park. The 1998 NPS Omnibus Management Act mandates research in the parks so that their management “is enhanced by the availability and utilization of a broad program of the highest quality science and information.” Data generated by researchers on NPS lands is important to the agency, visitors, and scientific community.
Applying for and receiving a Scientific Research and Collecting Permit is required before conducting any research or collecting any specimens from NPS areas. This includes prospecting for fossils and archaeological objects. Proposed research conducted by NPS employees undergoes the same review process. The purpose of the review process is to assure that the proposed research and/or collection of specimens meets the basic mission of the NPS (the 1916 Organic Act) and to determine potential impacts to resources protected by other means such as:

  • The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA)
  • The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940
  • The Wilderness Act of 1964
  • The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA)
  • The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)
  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA)
  • The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA)
  • The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 (PRPA)
Pallid bat during Bioblitz
Pallid bat during Bioblitz


  • Principle Investigators must be qualified to undertake the proposed research and must be experienced in similar methods of data and/or specimen collection. An advanced degree in the same or similar field of the proposed research is preferred.
  • Collections are not authorized for the sake of building collections. The collection of museum specimens must occur in order to address a specific research question.

  • Question: what specific research question are you trying to answer? What hypotheses have you generated and how will the proposed research support them?
  • Access: How will you access your proposed field areas? Will you require any keys or access to areas in the park that are not open to the public?
  • Methods: Be explicit as possible when describing the methods and materials used in the proposed research (e.g., who, what, where, when, how, with what, etc.). Will the proposed research involve ground disturbance, and if so, to what extent?
  • Repository: Where will collected specimens be reposited? Is the repository a federally-designated repository? Have all parts of Appendix A been completed? Has the collections manager of the designated repository been notified?
  • Data availability: How will a copy of all of the data be provided to the park Research Coordinator (e.g., field notes, photographs, data sets, etc.)?
  • Location: Why must this research occur on NPS land (as opposed to state, private, county, etc.)?
  • Personnel: List anyone anticipated to be involved in the proposed research as co-investigators. Is there any help that is needed from park staff?
  • Wilderness: Does the proposed research occur in designated Wilderness Areas? Does the proposed research require a Minimum Requirements Analysis? Does the proposed research involve any of the generally prohibited uses of Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act?
  • Destructive analysis: All proposed destructive analyses must be approved by the Park Superintendent in advance, including those of previously-collected specimens existing in an approved repository.
  • Visualization techniques and replication: Imaging and replication techniques such as computed tomography, x-ray photography, laser surface scanning, traditional molding and casting, 3D printing and prototyping must be approved in advance by the Museum Curator.
  • Publication: What is the potential publication venue for the proposed research (e.g., conference presentation, peer-reviewed journal article, internal report, etc.)?
Pottery in Prep Lab
Pottery in Prep Lab


Research Permit Process
  1. Create an Investigator Profile in the NPS Research Permit and Reporting System:
  2. Select “Submit an Application” under “Home.”
  3. It is highly recommended that Principal Investigators write the research proposal in a separate document, transfer the relevant fields to the RPRS application, and upload the separate proposal with the application.
  4. Please allow 60-90 days for the permit review process. Investigators are not allowed to begin the proposed research or specimen collection until they receive a finalized permit signed by the Research Coordinator, Investigator, and Park Superintendent (and Museum Curator, if collecting specimens).
  5. An Investigator Annual Report is due via the RPRS at the end of every reporting year that the permit remains active.
  6. A Final Report is due via the RPRS upon the expiration of the permit.
  7. Any questions throughout the permit process can be sent to the Research Coordinator at the park.

Research Permit Coordinators
Dr. Adam Marsh
e-mail us
(928) 524-6228 x263

Dr. William Parker
e-mail us
(928) 524-6228 x262
Sky Quality Readings taken in the wilderness area
Sky Quality Readings taken in the wilderness area

NPS/Jacob Holgerson

Research Permit Terms and Conditions
The following terms and conditions apply to every active research permit and will be attached to every issued permit:
  1. Background - This permit includes by reference all stipulations listed in the application materials or in additional attachments to this permit provided by the superintendent or a designee. Breach of any of the terms of this permit will be grounds for revocation of this permit and denial of future permits.
  1. Revocation - This permit may be modified, suspended, or revoked at any time for resource, safety, or other management considerations, or when there is a violation of term or condition of this permit. The permittee may consult with the appropriate NPS Regional Science Advisor to clarify issues resulting in a revoked permit and the potential for reinstatement by the park superintendent or a designee.
  1. Authority - The permittee is granted privileges covered under this permit subject to the supervision of the superintendent or a designee, and shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations of the National Park System area and other federal and state laws. A National Park Service (NPS) representative may accompany the permittee in the field to ensure compliance with regulations.
  1. Responsibility - The permittee is responsible for ensuring that all persons working on the project adhere to permit conditions and applicable NPS regulations as well as state and federal laws. The permittee is responsible for complying with applicable terms and conditions after the permit has expired or been cancelled, suspended, or revoked.
  1. False information - The permittee is prohibited from giving false information that is used to issue this permit. To do so will be considered a breach of conditions and be grounds for revocation of this permit and other applicable penalties.
  1. Assignment - This permit may not be transferred or assigned to another person. Additional investigators and field assistants are to be coordinated by the person(s) named in the permit and should carry a copy of the permit at all times while they are working in the park. The principal investigator shall notify the park's Research and Collecting Permit Office when there are desired changes in the approved study protocols or methods, changes in the affiliation or status of the principal investigator, or modification of the name of any project member.
  1. Modifications - Changes to the permit may be requested by the permittee or initiated by the NPS. The authorized officer may issue a new permit or require the permittee to submit a new application when a modification would substantially change the scope of the existing permit.
  1. Collection of specimens (including related data such as field notes, etc.) - No park resources may be collected unless authorized on the Scientific Research and Collecting permit. All collected park resources remain federal property, regardless of where the resources reside, who discovered or collected them, or who assumes responsibility for their care, and removal of any resources from federal land without an active permit constitutes theft of federal property. A general list of collected specimens must be submitted to the Research Permit Coordinator before the researcher leaves the park.

The general conditions for specimen collections are:
  • Collection of archeological resources without a valid Antiquities Act Permit is prohibited.
  • Collection of paleontological resources is prohibited unless collection is specified in the permit.
  • Collection of federally listed threatened or endangered species without a valid U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species permit is prohibited.
  • Collection of federally listed birds or bird feathers under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) without a valid U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service migratory bird special purpose salvage permit is prohibited.
  • Any research or collecting activities that include substantial ground disturbance, such as digging or trenching may require archaeological clearance prior to performing the activities.
  • Collection methods shall not attract undue attention or cause unapproved damage, depletion, or disturbance to the environment and other park resources, such as historic sites. Excavation sites will be maintained in good condition, free of trash, and any supplies or equipment at the site will be neatly stacked. Excavated rock should be spread to facilitate natural recontouring through erosion. The permit does not authorize the permittee to modify the environment around an area of work (e.g., cutting trees, creating roads, or grading parking areas).
  • Newly-collected specimens must be reported to the NPS annually or more frequently if required by the park issuing the permit. Minimum information for annual reporting includes specimen classification, number of specimens collected, NPS catalogue number, location collected (with geospatial data), specimen status (e.g., herbarium sheet, preserved in alcohol/formalin, tanned and mounted, dried and boxed, etc.), and current location.
  • The NPS reserves the right to designate the repositories of all specimens removed from the park and to approve or restrict reassignment of specimens from one repository to another. Because specimens remain federal property, they shall not be destroyed or discarded without prior NPS authorization.
  • It is the permittee’s responsibility to contact the park for cataloging instructions and specimen labels as well as instructions on repository designation for the specimens.
  • Collected specimens housed in non-NPS approved repositories may be used for scientific or educational purposes only, and shall be dedicated to public benefit and be accessible to the public in accordance with NPS policies and procedures.
  • Any specimens collected under this permit, any components of any specimens (including but not limited to natural organisms, enzymes or other bioactive molecules, genetic materials, or seeds), and research results derived from collected specimens are to be used for scientific or educational purposes only, and may not be used for commercial or other revenue-generating purposes unless the permittee has entered into a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA) or other approved benefit-sharing agreement with the NPS. The sale of collected research specimens or other unauthorized transfers to third parties is prohibited. Furthermore, if the permittee sells or otherwise transfers collected specimens, any components thereof, or any products or research results developed from such specimens or their components without a CRADA or other approved benefit-sharing agreement with NPS, permittee will pay the NPS a royalty rate of twenty percent (20%) of gross revenue from such sales or other revenues. In addition to such royalty, the NPS may seek other damages to which the NPS may be entitled including but not limited to injunctive relief against the permittee.
  1. Destructive analysis - Destructive sampling of specimens will not be done without prior approval of the NPS. Collected specimens that are not fully consumed in analysis remain federal property.
  1. Reports - The permittee is required to submit an Investigator’s Annual Report and copies of final reports, publications, and other materials resulting from the study using the NPS’s Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS, Instructions for how and when to submit an annual report will be provided by NPS staff. Copies of field notes, databases, maps, photos, and/or other materials will also be requested. The permittee is responsible for the content of reports and data provided to the National Park Service and will ensure that reports are submitted in a timely fashion and contain information necessary to ensure accountability for federal resources.
  1. Confidentiality - The permittee agrees to keep the specific location of sensitive park resources confidential. Sensitive resources include threatened species, endangered species, and rare species, archeological sites, caves, fossil sites, minerals, commercially valuable resources, and sacred ceremonial sites. Specific locality data are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and will not be released by the permittee or repository without the written permission of the NPS.
  1. Other permits - The permittee must obtain all other required permit(s) to conduct the specified project.
  1. Insurance - If liability insurance is required by the NPS for this project, then documentation must be provided that it has been obtained and is current in all respects before this permit is considered valid.
  1. Mechanized equipment - No use of mechanized equipment in designated, proposed, or potential wilderness areas is allowed unless authorized by the superintendent or a designee in additional specific conditions associated with this permit.
  1. NPS participation - The permittee should not anticipate assistance from the NPS unless specific arrangements are made and documented in either an additional stipulation attached to this permit or in other separate written agreements.
  1. Permanent markers and field equipment - The permittee is required to remove all markers or equipment from the field after the completion of the study or prior to the expiration date of this permit. The superintendent or a designee may modify this requirement through additional park specific conditions that may be attached to this permit. Additional conditions regarding the positioning and identification of markers and field equipment may be issued by staff at the park.
  1. Access to park and restricted areas - Travel within the park is restricted to only those methods that are available to the general public unless otherwise specified in additional stipulations associated with this permit. Use of roads not open to the public and entry into closed areas require special permission on a case by case basis. Approval for any activity is contingent on the park being open and staffed for required operations. No entry into restricted areas is allowed unless authorized in additional park specific stipulations attached to this permit.
  1. Notification - The permittee is required to contact the park’s Research and Collecting Permit Office (or other offices if indicated in the stipulations associated with this permit) prior to initiating any fieldwork authorized by this permit at least one week prior to the initial visit to the park. The permittee is required to report suspected resource damage or theft to the authorized officer within 48 hours of learning of such damage or theft.
  1. Expiration date - Permits expire on the date listed. Nothing in this permit shall be construed as granting any exclusive research privileges or automatic right to continue, extend, or renew this or any other line of research under new permit(s).
  1. PRPA - These terms and conditions are derived from the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 and draft DOI regulations open for comment during 2017.
  • All paleontological resources collected from federal land remain property of the federal government, are required to have federal catalogue numbers, and if published must be done so under the federal catalogue number.
  • No paleontological resources are to leave the park without the permittee supplying a complete inventory of collected specimens to the Museum Curator, who will at some time after then accession the specimens and assign them catalogue numbers. The inventory should include DI Form 105 (Receipt for Property). The permittee will also supply all pertinent field notes, photographs, locality data, and data derived from additional analyses undertaken during the duration of the study (e.g., CT scan data, histology thin sections, geochemical data, etc.), which are to be made available for scientific research and public education at the park and an approved repository, if desired.
  • The permittee is responsible for arranging the ultimate repository of the collected paleontological resources, whether it is the park or an approved repository. Each specimen (or groups of specimens labeled as a group) must bear NPS labels and must be accessioned and cataloged in the NPS National Catalog. Unless exempted by additional park-specific stipulations, the permittee is responsible for completing the labels and catalogue records with assistance from curatorial information supplied by the park’s Museum Curator.
  • Documentation of the transfer of paleontological resources from the care of the permittee to the care of the approved repository will take the form of DI Form 9008 (Repository Receipt for Collections (Paleontology)). This form would include but not be limited to a certification by the permittee that the collection was deposited at the repository, and a certification by the approved repository’s authorized official that the collection has been received.
  • Destructive sampling of specimens will not be done without prior approval of the NPS. Specimens completely consumed during such a process still require a federal catalogue number, and any fossil material remaining of the specimen must be returned to the NPS or transferred to an approved repository.
  • Molding and casting and non-destructive analyses of paleontological resources such as CT or laser scanning must be approved by the NPS as a result of the permit application or a subsequent written agreement.

Last updated: August 4, 2019

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Petrified Forest National Park
P.O. Box 2217

Petrified Forest, AZ 86028-2217


928 524-6228

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