Conducting Research in Wrangell-St. Elias


Information that scientists gather can play an important role not only in how Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is managed, but also in how we manage some of the greater issues that face our planet. Our current understanding of historical, biological, cultural, social, and physical resources has been gained through exploration and research conducted since the late nineteenth century.


Suggested timeline for proposals:

  • For projects to take place during the summer season (May 15-Sept 15) submit your application/ renewal by May 1 of that year.
  • For research conducted outside the summer season submit your application/renewal a minimum of 3 months prior to your anticipated start date.

An integrated compliance review process assesses the scientific integrity and appropriateness of research activities. The primary compliance requirements that must be addressed prior to project approval include:

  • is it necessary for this project to occur within the park and is the proposal in line with the NPS mission and the enabling legislation of the park (see applicable laws & policies)?
  • potential environmental impacts as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).
  • potential impacts to cultural resources and historic sites within the park as required by the National Historic Preservation Act of 2001 (NHPA, Section 106) and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA).
  • potential impacts to subsistence activities or the resources upon which they depend as required by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, 1980 - ANILCA, Section 810 (pdf format, 3 MB).
  • potential impacts to Wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964.


1) Submit your proposal to the NPS Research and Permit and Reporting System. This site requires you to enter basic information regarding your project. You can cut and paste most material from your proposal into the form. Refer to the Park Stipulations for Research Permits (pdf format, 79 KB) and be aware of the Curatorial Responsibilities of Researchers (pdf format, 314 KB) who undertake research in the park.

2) Key points to include in your application:

  • type of transportation you will be using within the boundaries of the park (float plane, helicopter, boating, hiking, etc.).
  • study site, field dates, number of days and people at each camp, and camp locations with information about your camp and how you will deal with human waste and non-burnable trash. Where possible provide the coordinates for study site and camp site locations.
  • any type of motorized equipment that will be used (outboard motor, chainsaw, etc.).
  • information regarding establishment of permanent plots (size, location, and type of marking).
  • do your studies require ground disturbance (i.e. digging)?
  • do your studies require the collection of specimens? Will those specimens be destroyed in analysis?
  • does your study involve conducting surveys or interviews on park lands? (This requires additional clearance from the Office of Management and Budget, OMB).
  • if you are a graduate student please list your major advisor as a co-investigator.

3) Links to additional information that might be useful in putting together your permit

Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA)
All kinds of useful information can be found on this page including the link to the NPS Research Permit and Reporting System, the NPS Data Store where you can search for documents relating to the park you are interested in, NPSpecies which has a list on known species to occur in parks, Survey Request Tracking if you wish to conduct a social science survey in a park, and map services.

NPS GIS Data and Information Clearinghouse
This site has all of the publically available NPS GIS data which can be searched for by park. Most of our information will be found under the Alaska Region and under the park code "WRST", some can be found under the "Alaska-wide themes". You can find airstrips, roads, conservation boundaries (Wilderness, Park, Preserve, etc.) and much more.

4) Once you have submitted your proposal: the Research Coordinator at the park will contact you to clarify any details or alert you to problems that might arise. The coordinator will meet with the park compliance inter-disciplinary team (CIDT – this team generally meets the 2nd Thursday of every month) and shepherd your proposal through the evaluation process. The coordinator will provide you with updates periodically and is the person ultimately responsible for issuing your permit. In general, you can expect this process to take up to 3 months.

For more information, please contact:

Research Coordinator
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439, Mile 106.8 Richardson Hwy
Copper Center, AK 99573-0434
telephone: 907-822-5234

e-mail us

Last updated: January 16, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


907 822-5234

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