Mandatory Curatorial Responsibilities of Research Permit Holders

Your collecting permit outlines your curatorial responsibilities as the collector (see conditions section of permit).

All specimens, as well as their derivatives and byproducts, remain the property of the United States Federal Government. If you collect specimens that are to be retained (not destroyed during analysis), they must:

  • be accessioned and cataloged into the National Park Service's Interior Collection Management System (ICMS) according to NPS standards;
  • bear National Park Service (NPS) accession and catalog numbers (in accordance with 36 CFR section 2.5).

Before you begin collecting

  1. Call Yellowstone National Park Curator's office (307) 344-2565 to obtain an accession number for collected material that will be suitable for long term retention. If you are unsure if your collections will be "suitable" for long term retention, please call for clarification. The accession number links all of the specimens, data, and meta-data in one collection.*
  2. Obtain approval for the final repository for the park owned specimens. The proposed repository for specimens collected must be discussed with the Curator's office as part of the permit application process. Please note that the NPS does not loan specimens to individuals – institutional sponsorship is required.*
  3. All research projects generating museum collection specimens should have a funding component to address curation requirements. To ensure that adequate funding for the cataloging, initial preservation and storage requirements (archival supplies, potential conservation work, etc.) are accomplished, it is imperative that anticipated curation costs be discussed at that time.

*Specimens may not leave the park until an accession number is issued and the repository approved.

When you are finished collecting

  1. Contact the Curator's office by February 28th of the year following the completion of the first year of collecting to obtain catalog numbers for specimens that will be retained. When you call, please have the following information ready:
    • Your permit number;
    • Dates collecting began and ended;
      • If additional collections are made in subsequent years, you are required to contact the Curator's office every year you collect. Accession and catalog numbers are assigned on an annual basis. If you have already been assigned an accession number from previous year's collections, regardless of whether or not the collection was done under the same permit for the same continuing project, you must obtain a new accession number every year you collect and intend to retain samples/specimens.
    • Number of specimens collected (estimates are acceptable for large collections until an accurate count is completed);
    • The name and complete address of the approved repository (unless returning specimens to Yellowstone National Park);
    • The name, title, and contact information of the responsible official tasked with the care and management of the specimens at the approved repository where the specimens will be housed (unless you are planning to return the materials to Yellowstone for long term storage).
  2. Catalog the specimens into the NPS's Interior Collection Management System (ICMS). The Curator's office will provide you with instructions and a copy of the software. ICMS is a Windows-based, user friendly program. If you are already using a cataloging system that is compatible with ICMS, the Curator's office may approve the database or workbook for use as an alternative to ICMS. If you are processing your collections using an Access database or an excel spreadsheet, a common delineated file format can be mapped and data can be dumped directly into ICMS using instructions in the handout, "Data File Submission," provided by the museum registrar.
  3. You must label the specimens with either NPS labels or archival quality labels (such as acid-free paper or Tyvek, imprinted with archivally stable ink). All labels MUST contain Yellowstone National Park catalog numbers in a permanent manner, in this format: YELL 99999.
  4. Upon completion of analysis, any specimens that are to be permanently retained, along with your associated documentation, are to be stored in an approved repository or Yellowstone National Park's collection facility, the Heritage & Research Center. If the specimens will be housed at a non-NPS repository, the Curator's office will issue a loan agreement form to be signed by the individual responsible for the specimens.All specimens, as well as their derivatives and byproducts, are the property of the United States. NPS policy requires that long-term loans be renewed every 10 years.

Please submit an electronic copy of completed ICMS catalog records, records from an approved database, or the excel spreadsheet template (provided by the curator) to the Curator's office within a year of final data collection (unless other arrangements have been made with the curation staff).

Send copies of all of your field records (notes, maps, images, etc.) and final reports or publications to the Yellowstone Curator's office within a year of final data collection.

If you will have trouble meeting these deadlines, call or write the Curator's office at the address below to make other arrangements. We are here to help you comply with the terms of your permit and make compliance as easy as possible.

Chris Mather, Registrar
Yellowstone National Park
National Park Service
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190
Telephone: (307) 344-2565
Fax: (406) 848-9958
e-mail: e-mail us

The Curator's Office is located in the Heritage & Research Center, located next to the Gardiner School and near the Yellowstone Arch in Gardiner, Montana at 20 Old Yellowstone Trail.

Last updated: July 13, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168



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