Scientific Collecting on State Park System Lands

The California Department of Parks and Recreation welcomes interest in considering State Park System lands as research sites. Scientific studies designed to increase understanding of ecological processes and resources in parks are a valuable source of information for park managers.

It is the intention of the Department to further scientific research within areas administered by it, and to cooperate with authorized workers to the fullest extent compatible with its charge to provide long-term protection for ecological processes and natural resource elements.

A scientific collecting permit is required for most scientific activities pertaining to natural resources that involve field work, specimen collection, and/or have the potential to disturb resources or visitors.

All requests for biological, geological, or soil investigation/collection permits must be submitted on a DPR 65 (Rev. 11/90) - APPLICATION AND PERMIT TO CONDUCT BIOLOGICAL, GEOLOGICAL, OR SOIL INVESTIGATIONS/COLLECTIONS form.
[DPR 65 Application in pdf format]

Single park unit or single park district requests: District Superintendents have approval authority for biological, geological, or soil investigation and/or collection permits in park units within their District. Send applications for single park unit or single park district permits to the appropriate District office (Link to California State Parks District Office Contact Information).

Multi-district or statewide requests: The Supervisor of the Natural Heritage Section has approval authority for biological, geological, or soil investigation and/or collection permits covering more than one District. Send applications for "multi-district" or "statewide" permits to the Department's Natural Heritage Section office.


    Attn: Supervisor, Natural Heritage Section
    Natural Resources Division
    California Department of Parks and Recreation
    P.O. Box 942896
    Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

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]

All permits to collect paleontological materials require approval of the Supervisor of the Natural Heritage Section. Send all applications for paleontological investigation and/or collection permits to the Department's Natural Heritage Section office. (see mailing address above)

Applications must be completed with original signatures and with precise location of proposed work shown on maps.

It is recommended that applications be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the first planned field activity.

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.

Permits are granted to: (1) allow scientific research within the 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 State Park System.

One of the primary functions of the State Park System is the protection and preservation of all natural features occurring within its various boundaries. The Department receives a considerable number of requests for specimen collecting permits and information, and is obliged to give very careful consideration to every request involving removal, destruction, or modification of any feature of the State Park System, however small.

Only those proposals involving distinct benefit to the 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 involve information or data useful to the Department in the protection, perpetuation, management, and/or interpretation of natural values within one or more units of the State Park System. Applied autecological and synecological research are especially valuable. Other benefits include maintaining genetic integrity of a unit's flora or fauna by permitting revegetation projects adjacent to unit boundaries by utilizing seeds or cuttings collected within the unit (if local seed or cuttings are not otherwise available).

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 would have on the natural features of the State Park System.

All collecting and investigations 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 collector shall submit a summary of information gathered to the Department and make available any material published as a result of the collecting. Renewal of any permit is contingent on receipt of the summary report 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 Game and other agencies of the Federal Government. The Department of Fish and Game 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, 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 collecting 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 collecting permit application.

Standard Conditions and Restrictions for Biological, Geological, and Soil Investigation/Collection Permits

General classroom collecting is not allowed.

Applies only to non-cultural materials and is limited to the kind, number, and sizes of specimens for which the permit was issued. Archaeological material may NOT be collected under this permit.

Collections shall be used for scientific or interpretive purposes only, shall be dedicated to the public benefit, and shall not be used for commercial purposes.

All collecting must be done away from roads, trails, and developed areas, unless such localities are specified in the permit. The collecting shall be done in an inconspicuous manner, and shall not cause damage to the environment. Because of the scarcity or importance of some specimens the Department of Parks and Recreation may designate other restrictions necessary for the preservation of the area.

Permittee shall submit a summary of information gathered to the applicable District where the investigations took place, and to the Chief of the Natural Resources Division, Department of Parks and Recreation, P.O. Box 942896, Sacramento, CA 94296-0001. The Department further requires that the collector make available to the Department any material published as a result of the permit.

Collector is to contact the appropriate District Office before beginning any field activity under the permit, and to present a copy of the permit together with evidence of additional collecting licenses and collecting permits, if required. District staff at that time may specify additional restrictions or conditions due to concerns regarding suitable collecting areas and/or times.

If collections are not made to the satisfaction of the Department, the permit may be immediately cancelled.

All applicable laws and regulations must be observed by the permittee in exercising the privileges granted in the permit.

Standard Conditions and Restrictions for Paleontological Investigation/Collection Permits

Only paleontological material may be collected under this permit. All specimens collected remain the property of the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The applicant is responsible for arranging curation, accession, safeguarding, and preservation of all materials collected in accordance with accepted museum standards. These arrangements must address the continuing availability of the collection for public observation, scientific study and display if curated (on loan) to institutions outside of DPR facilities. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to provide DPR with three (3) copies of catalogs, field notes, photographs, and reports, even if curation is arranged in a facility not under the control of DPR. Collection should be accomplished by methods that conserve resources and must be of some tangible benefit to the State Park System. The collections shall be used for scientific and educational purposes dedicated to public benefit only and shall in no case be used for commercial purposes or personal profit.

All work to be accomplished shall be discussed with the District Superintendent or designee prior to beginning field work. The District Superintendent may specify additional restrictions or conditions due to site sensitivity, natural hazards in the area, visitor traffic patterns, etc. Field work shall be scheduled with the District Superintendent or designee, who shall be contacted immediately upon arrival in the park unit. Should unanticipated changes in conditions occur during the course of the field work, additional restrictions may be required for reasons of health, safety and resource protection. Direct any questions regarding permits to the District Resource Ecologist. Permits may be cancelled by the District Superintendent.

Plant life and other features shall not be disturbed without permission of DPR staff. After excavation, the area is to be restored to as near its former condition as possible. Park unit staff should be consulted before and after backfilling, for suggestions and approval.

Permits are issued for one year or a portion thereof. Within six months of permit expiration and at least thirty (30) days prior to filing final reports with any other agency, permittee agrees to provide DPR with three (3) copies of all site survey records, survey and excavation reports, photographs, and specimen catalogs for review. A final report is required within a year. One (1) set of the above specified documents will be sent to the District Resource Ecologist and two to the Natural Heritage Section Supervisor. Copies of any materials published shall be submitted to Department of Parks and Recreation and should include an acknowledgement of the Department of Parks and Recreation. For continuing studies, submit a new application with four (4) copies of a progress report.

Applicant agrees to indemnify, save harmless, and defend the State of California, its officers, agents, and employees against any and all claims, demands, damages, losses or liability of its officers, agents, and employees due or incident to, either in whole or in part, whether indirectly or directly connected with, the activities described in this permit or arising out of or in any way connected with or incident to the permit issued from this application. In the event State is named as codefendant under the provisions of Government Code Sections 895 et seq., the Permittee shall notify State of such fact and shall represent State in such legal actions unless State undertakes to represent itself as codefendant in such legal action, in which event State shall bear its own litigation costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees. The applicant, its officers, agents, employees, or others holding permits under this application, acting in the performance of this agreement, are not officers, agents or employees of the State.