Research Permits

a woman holding a bird in one hand and writing notes on a clipboard with the other
A biologist makes notes about a captured bird before banding and releasing it.

NPS photo / Kira Heeschen

The National Park Service welcomes proposals for scientific studies on park lands. Proposals may, but are not required to, address resource management needs or other priorities of parks.

A Scientific Research and Collecting Permit is required by federal law for scientific activities related to natural resources or social science studies within NPS units that involve fieldwork, specimen collection, and/or have the potential to affect park resources or visitors. Permits ensure park managers are aware of research activities, foster good relationships between park staff and outside researchers and scholars, enable researchers and scholars to benefit from knowledge and services provided by park staff, and help NPS learn the outcomes of research. Permits are issued by individual parks.

The Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) is the online system to apply for, manage, and report on research permits for most disciplines. RPRS also includes information on park-specific research priorities, contacts, and past studies by other researchers.

Not all disciplines use the RPRS system.
  • Archeology: Permits are required under the Archeological Resources Protection Act. Researchers from outside NPS should first contact each park where they wish to conduct research using the Contact Us link at the bottom of the park’s website. For more information about NPS-wide policies and procedures, see NPS Archeology Guide: Permits for Archeological Investigation.
  • Museum Collections and Archives: Researchers from outside NPS should contact each park curator to request access to NPS collections and archives for all disciplines. Use the Contact Us link at the bottom of the park’s website as a starting point.

Last updated: December 5, 2023


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