Applying to use RNAs in R8 (Southern Region)

Image from Gap Creek Research Natural Area

Using RNAs in the Southern Region

Types of usage

Research Natural Areas are managed to maintain the natural features for which they were established and to maintain natural processes. Because of the emphasis on natural conditions, RNAs represent a valuable ecological resource for scientists, managers and educators. The Forest Service encourages scientific and educational use of RNAs.

In general, non–manipulative research that does not significantly impact or alter the ecological composition, structure, or function is appropriate within RNAs. The level of acceptable use varies by RNA, depending on the rarity of taxa, fragility or resilience of the ecosystems, and cumulative impacts of use.

The application and approval process below ensures that all activities conducted within RNAs meet the rigorous management criteria to perpetuate these ecosystems for future generations.

How to apply for RNA access

All organized activities (including research conducted by Forest Service employees) inside a RNA require approval by the Forest Service Southern Research Station Director and in some cases (if the RNA is located in a Congressionally Designated Area), by the Regional Forester of the Southern Region. In addition, access to conduct research in an RNA requires approval by the District Ranger who manages the RNA. For RNAs within Wilderness or other congressionally designated areas, the Southern Region’s Regional Forester has the authority for approving research projects in coordination with the Southern Research Station Director.

The application form for use of RNAs is downloadable at the link Application for RNA use (PDF; 1.7 MB).

Applications for research, monitoring, or educational activities of RNAs of the Southern Region should be routed to the Southern Research Station RNA liaison or for the RNA in Puerto Rico to the International Institute of Tropical Forestry Research Station RNA Liaison as listed below. The RNA Liaison will assist the applicant with the approval process. When proposed activities will involve several Research Natural Areas within the Southern Research Station/Southern Region, submit one RNA use request form, listing the RNAs.

Please send this application and any other correspondence regarding use of RNA's in the Southern Region to:

Southern Region RNA Coordinator/Liaison
ATTN: Jason Stevens
626 East Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Southern Research Station RNA Liaison
ATTN: Stephanie Laseter
U. S. Forest Service
Center for Integrated Forest Science
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC  28734
IITF Research Station RNA Liaison
ATTN: Grizelle Gonzalez

Requirements of Approved Use

Notification prior to use

As part of the approval process, the applicant agrees to notify the appropriate Ranger District office 48 hours prior to conducting field activities and agrees to follow safety protocol(s) outlined by the District Ranger.

Collection of plants or wildlife

In addition, plant, animal or any other specimen collected during the course of a study will be deposited in a location approved by the Station Director. Additional State and Federal permits are required for collection of any wildlife species including threatened, endangered, or sensitive species.

Post–visit reporting

All users of RNAs are expected to file a brief summary report with the coordinating Research Station liaison no later than 1 year following completion of the activity. This report may be in the form of a letter that outlines findings and observations. In addition, the applicant must provide the Station Director and Regional Forester with copies of all sampling location coordinates, data, reports, and publications resulting from the research including theses, dissertations, articles, monographs, etc. for our archives.