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Permitting Advice

To expedite the permitting process on private and federally-owned lands, the Canyonlands Research Center has created this advice page. Please understand that final permitting is subject to each agency or field office.

Canyonlands Research Center

The CRC administers over 5,000 acres of private land. Much of this land is utilized by the cattle operation that The Nature Conservancy manages, but there are opportunities to locate studies on these lands. Recently, a number of common gardens have been established on-site to study biological soil crust, warm season grasses, and cottonwood tree plasticity to climate change.

For information on establishing studies on privately-owned land:

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management [BLM] seeks informal communications for research projects occurring on their lands prior to any official project submission. The goal is to ensure that a Plan of Development [POD] is adequately developed with a great level of detail prior to official submission through their Right-of-Way permitting. In instances where ground disturbance does not occur, such as foliar collection, a determination of Casual Use may be made that leads to a Letter of Authorization in a relatively short period of time. Studies that request soil disturbance will be subject to federal laws applicable to the level of disturbance.

Topics to consider are: type of disturbance; duration; timing; access routes to site (even if foot traffic).

  • Primary contact at the BLM’s Monticello Field Office is Norbert Norton, Realty Specialist. He can be contacted via email at or by phone at (435) 587-1500.
  • Primary contact at the BLM’s Moab Field Office is Lisa Wilcox, Realty Specialist. She can be contacted via e-mail at and by phone at (435) 259-2100.

Please visit the BLM’s website for Right-of-Way for additional information. You can also download an example of an acceptable research POD or Categorical Exclusion permission.

National Park Service

Like the BLM, the National Park Service [NPS] requests that prior to submitting an official request to conduct research within their boundaries that researcher’s contact them prior to submitting official requests. This allows for better scrutiny and advice for the project and reduces the number of rejected proposals.

  • Please call the National Park Service at 435-259-2100 and they will direct you to the point of contact for research permitting in Canyonlands National Park.

The website for seeking a permit to conduct research in the National Parks can be found at the following link:

U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service [USFS], like the BLM and NPS, requests that researchers arrange an informal pre-application communication prior to final submission for a Special Use authorization. The process for approval is similar to the BLM with requests for defined project specifics (see examples above for BLM); The USFS uses the special use form SF-299 for research-related activities. Your application should include a good map. Basically, the USFS needs to know the who, what, why, when, where, and how you propose to accomplish your project. Depending on the complexity of the project, the compliance with NEPA for a research study permit may fall within Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 1909.15, Chapter 30, Section 32- Categories of Action Excluded From Documentation, Section 32.11(3): Inventories, research activities, and studies, such as resource inventories and routine data collection when such actions are clearly limited in context and intensity, 7 CFR 1b.3 (a)(3).

  • Primary contact at the USFS’s Manti-La Sal National Forest, covering the Monticello and Moab Districts, is Francisco Castillo, Natural Resources Specialist (Special Uses). He can be contacted via email at or by phone at (435) 636-336.

Information on the USFS’s application process, with specific items to consider, can be found at:

Form SF-299 can be found (near the bottom of the page) at:

Frequently asked questions regarding permitting in USFS Region 4 can be found at: