You are here: Home / Research Natural Areas / Using RNAs

Using RNAs

Types of Usage

Field sampling for genetic research studies on a rare plant
Angela G. Evenden
Field sampling for genetic research studies on a rare plant

Any activity within a Research Natural Areas (RNA) cannot compromise the values for which it was established, existing studies or monitoring already in place. Types of usages within RNAs are restricted to:

  • scientific research: for the study and collection of data to be used for hypothesis testing or comparative purposes
  • passive observation and monitoring: for the collection descriptive data that will not result in scientific hypothesis testing or comparative conclusions
  • educational use

How to Apply for RNA Access

The application procedure varies depending on the type of usage, and whether the RNA is congressionally desiginated (e.g., Wilderness, National Primitive Areas, National Recreation Areas, National Scenic-Research Areas, National Scenic Trails, or National Historic Trails).

In all cases, however, the applicant must first:

  • fill out the Research Natural Area (RNA) Research Request Form
  • forward the form to the District Ranger of National Forest wherein the RNA resides. (If you have trouble determining contact information for the District Ranger, contact the RMRS RNA Coordinator for that National Forest Region.)

Then proceed as follows, depending of the type of usage.

Scientific Research

If the research request form is approved by the District Ranger,

The study plan is subject to the RMRS Quality Assurance Process and to the approvals of an appropriate Program Manager and the Station Director. Please submit your request at least 90 days prior to the starting date of your research to allow time for this approval process.

By signing the request form, the Principal Investigator agrees to the Principal Investigator Requirements below. In particular, results of scientific studies must be subject to objective and ethically sound peer review prior to publication or other dissemination.

Passive Observation and Monitoring

If the research request form is approved by the District Ranger,

By signing the request form, the Principal Investigator agrees to the Principal Investigator Requirements below, including the sharing of data.

Educational Use

If the research request form is approved by the District Ranger,

Principal Investigator Requirements

By signing the Research Natural Area (RNA) Research Request Form, the Principal Investigator conducting research or monitoring on the RNA agrees to:

  • determine whether a Special Use Permit is required, and notify the District Ranger's Office of each access to the RNA;
  • not engage in any activities in the RNA beyond the scope of those specificed in the RNA research request form or, if required, the study plan;
  • provide copies of all data, reports and publications from this research including theses, disserations, articles, monographs, and so forth to the RMRS Regional RMA Coordinator, the National Forest System Regional Coordinator, and the National Forest Supervisor;
  • send a final report on the results of the research project to the RMRS Regional RMA Coordinator no later than one year following completion of research, if such information has not been completely covered above;
  • if removing flora or fauna, (1) obtain appropriate permits from State and Federal agencies; (2) carefully control species collection, especially those that are endangered, threatened, or rare; and (3) deposit voucher samples of plants in a herbarium;
  • leave the site in a pristine condition when research is concluded. This precludes leaving any monumentation, tree tags, markers, apparatus, etc.