Research Permits

Researcher identifying vegetation high above a lake in Olympic National Park

Research Permit Application Process

A Scientific Research and Collecting Permit is required for most scientific activities that involve fieldwork or collection of specimens or samples, or have the potential to disturb resources or visitors studies in National Park System areas.

Applications are submitted through the on-line Research Permit and Reporting System. Permits are issued by individual parks and researchers can contact park Research Permit Coordinators for assistance with this process. All applications are reviewed within each park for scientific integrity, compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPS), and other applicable laws and policies. It is recommended that you apply for a Research Permit at least 90 days in advance of your first planned research activities.

Some research activities may require additional permits or approvals by other governing bodies before the NPS can issue a permit for research in a park.

Collection of Scientific Specimens

NPS units are legally mandated by 36 CFR 2.5 to ensure that specimens collected in the parks are labeled as NPS specimens and cataloged into the Department of Interior museum database (ICMS). The specimens remain federal property in perpetuity, but may be deposited at federally recognized repositories. Park Research Coordinators and Museum Curators work together with scientists performing research in parks to ensure that NPS curatorial requirements are met and that specimens and data will be preserved appropriately to safeguard their availability for future generations. After submitting your Research Application, you will be contacted by the Park Research Coordinator or Museum Curator to discuss documentation of individual specimens and long-term storage of specimens that are not consumed during analysis.

Research in Wilderness

Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks are largely designated Wilderness. Research activities in these parks will be reviewed for potential impacts to wilderness character (i.e., natural quality, untrammeled quality, undeveloped quality, and soilitude or primitive and unconfined recreation). Applicants may be required to complete a Minimum Requirement Analysis.

Archeological Permits

All archeological fieldwork in national parks requires an NPS Permit for Archeological Investigations. Investigators working on NPS archeology projects under contract or cooperative agreement are exempt. Archeological studies that involve sampling or measuring natural resources may also require the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit mentioned above. For further details about Archeological Research Permits, see the NPS Archeology Guide.

Approval of Social Science Surveys

Social science researchers conducting surveys in which 10 or more members of the public (park visitors, potential park visitors, and residents of communities near parks) will be asked the same set of questions and in which the NPS sponsors the research must get approval from the Federal Government Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NPS sponsorship is not limited to financial support and may include in-kind support, assistance with survey administration, involvement in development of survey instruments, etc. Studies in which information about people is collected only through observation are exempt from this requirement. Depending on the park, survey research may also require the Scientific Research and Collecting Permit mentioned above. Researchers who wish to conduct a study that requires OMB approval must submit a package of information to the NPS Social Science Division at least 60 days before the survey is to be administered. For details, see the NPS Social Science Division's Information Collection page.

Vertebrate Animal Research

Research projects involving vertebrate animals require approval by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Researchers should consult the NPS IACUC website to determine what documentation they should submit to the park Research Coordinator and to the NPS IACUC (

Permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Research on migratory birds on endangered species may require permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Copies of any additional permits should be submitted to the individual park Research Permit Coordinator or can be uploaded with your Research Application.

Additional Permit Requirements

Overnight stays may require camping permits, proper food storage equipment, safety plans, and minimum impacts camping methods.

Research Permit Coordinators

Ebey’s Landing NHR & North Cascades NP

Anne Braaten
Jack Oelfke

Fort Vancouver NHS

Doug Wilson

Klondike Gold Rush-Seattle Unit NHP

Brooke Childrey
360-569-2211 ext 2366

Lewis and Clark NHP

Chris Clatterbuck
Lewis and Clark NHP

Mount Rainier NP

Tara Chestnut

Olympic NP

Matt Dubeau

San Juan Island NHP

Sara Dolan
360-378-2240 x 2236

Last updated: May 2, 2018