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Scientific Research on State Park System Lands

The California Department of Parks and Recreation welcomes consideration of State Park System lands as potential research sites. If you intend to conduct research in any California State Park, please review this important information. Following these instructions carefully will help to prevent unnecessary permitting delays.

A scientific research permit is required for most scientific activities conducted within the California State Park System that pertain to natural resources, including, but not limited to, field work, specimen collections, and the collection of data. If you intend to collect specimens, data, and/or produce a written document of your findings, such as a dissertation, thesis, academic paper, report, or professional publication, then a scientific research permit is needed. Additional permits or approvals from other local, state, or federal agencies may also be required. It is the responsibility of the researcher to know what permits are required by other local, state, and/or federal agencies and to obtain all needed permits before the California State Park scientific research permit will be approved.

To apply for a scientific research permit, submit a complete application package according to the instructions below. It is recommended that applications be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the first planned field activity. Depending on the nature of the work, the review and approval time may be longer than 60 days, particularly if soil disturbance, sensitive resources, and/or areas with sensitive resources are involved.

Application for Scientific Research Permits

All requests for scientific research permits that involve biological, geological, or soil investigations/collections must be submitted on a DPR 65 (Rev. 5/95) - APPLICATION AND PERMIT TO CONDUCT BIOLOGICAL, GEOLOGICAL, OR SOIL INVESTIGATIONS/COLLECTIONS form. [DPR 65 Application in pdf format] A study proposal and supporting documents are also required. For paleontological research, please skip directly to the Application for Paleontological Investigation/Collection Permits.

A complete application package includes:

☐ Completed, signed DPR 65 form
☐ CV or resume for Principal Investigator
☐ CV or resume for person overseeing field work (if different from PI)
☐ Maps, coordinates, and/or GIS files of each distinct study location
☐ Full study proposal (see Study Proposal Guidelines for Research in California State Parks for essential components)
☐ Copies of any additional local, state, and/or federal permits required for your research
☐ A summary report of activities completed under your previous California State Park research permit (permit renewals only)
This information is needed to evaluate the merits of your work as well as its potential impacts on park resources, operations, and visitors. Your application may be rejected or returned to you for revisions if it is deemed incomplete.

Application submissions:

California State Parks are grouped regionally into districts. These administrative units will determine where you need to send your permit application. Consult this map to determine whether your proposed study area falls within a single park district, multiple park districts, or State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs) of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division.

Single park district requests. Send applications to the appropriate district office.

SVRA-only requests. Send applications to the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division:
Attn: Environmental Program Manager
OHMVR Division Headquarters
California Department of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
(916) 324-4442
ohvinfo@parks.ca.gov
Multi-district or statewide requests. Send applications for "multi-district" or "statewide" permits to the Natural Resources Division:
Attn: Environmental Program Manager
Natural Resources Division
California Department of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
(916) 653-6725
nrd.research@parks.ca.gov
For more information, please consult these FAQs.

Application for Paleontological Investigation/Collection Permits

All requests for paleontological investigations/collections must be submitted on a DPR 412P (Rev. 5/95) - APPLICATION AND PERMIT TO CONDUCT PALEONTOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS/COLLECTIONS form. [DPR 412P Application in pdf format]

Send all applications for paleontological investigation and/or collection permits to the Natural Resources Division:

Attn: Environmental Program Manager
Natural Resources Division
California Department of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
(916) 653-6725
nrd.research@parks.ca.gov

Permit Renewals

Permits may be issued for a maximum period of one year. Permit renewals may be requested by submitting another application and following the same procedures. Be sure to enclose a summary report of activities conducted and results obtained under the previous permit. If there are significant changes to your methodology or project description or design from what was indicated in the original permit, a new permit application should be submitted.

Permit Decision Criteria and Standard Conditions

Permits are granted to: (1) allow scientific research within units of the California State Park System, (2) salvage materials that would be otherwise lost due to erosion or human activity, or (3) preserve genetic integrity of native flora or fauna within a unit when there is a clear benefit to the California State Park System.

One of the primary functions of the California State Park System is the protection and preservation of all natural features occurring within its boundaries. The Department receives a considerable number of collecting and research requests, and is obliged to give very careful consideration to every request involving removal, destruction, or modification of any feature of the California State Park System, however minor it may seem.

Only those proposals involving distinct benefit to the California State Park System can be granted by the Department. Benefits associated with granting a permit may involve the preparation of published or unpublished reports, which add to the understanding of a park unit's resources. These reports may provide information or data useful to the Department in the protection, perpetuation, management, and/or interpretation of natural resource values within one or more units of the California State Park System. Applied ecological research is especially valuable.

Permits to collect specimens are issued only to qualified persons participating in research projects in which the specimens collected are an integral part of, and necessary to, the specific project involved.

Collected materials may not be used for commercial profit or personal benefit.

The Department does not issue permits for general classroom collecting, either supervised or unsupervised, because of the cumulative impact that students participating in such activities may have on the natural features of the California State Park System.

All collecting and research must be done in a manner that minimizes the impact on the park unit's resources. When appropriate, the Department shall set specific conditions requiring that collection be done in an inconspicuous manner, away from roads, trails, and developed areas.

As a condition of all permits for scientific research, the investigator shall submit a summary of acquired information to the Department and make available any data and material published as a result of the research. Renewal of any permit is contingent on receipt of summary reports by the Department.

In addition to any permit issued by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, written approval may also be required in some circumstances by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other local, state, or federal agencies. The Department of Fish and Wildlife may issue permits, subject to such restrictions and regulations as may be imposed by the Fish and Game Commission, to take or possess mammals, birds and the nests thereof, fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, or any other form of animal life or of plant life in any part of the state for scientific, educational, or other purposes.

Certain research activities may require environmental review. Your application will be analyzed, and if review is required subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), you will be promptly notified of additional necessary steps in the processing of your permit application. Please be aware that, if the preparation of CEQA documentation is required, the start of your research activities could be significantly delayed.

Refer to the DPR 65 and DPR 412P permit application forms for a complete list of standard conditions and restrictions. Please note that, in addition to these standard conditions and restrictions that apply to all units of the California State Park System, there may be site-specific conditions and restrictions added to your permit that you must also adhere to.