State Park Scientific Study Permit

Texas State Parks welcomes scientific research that benefits management purposes, doesn’t harm park resources and is consistent with park management practices.

We require a State Park Scientific Study Permit to research, collect and investigate on State Parks Division lands (state parks and state natural areas). 

Research objectives and methods must conform to TPWD policies and procedures. We only issue permits for problem-oriented research. 

All catch-and-release activities, including photography, require a permit. This includes, but is not limited to, bird/bat mist netting and banding, mammal trapping, fish seining, and reptile and amphibian capture.

Application Process

Natural Resources Program staff consider permit applications on a case-by-case basis. Researchers must include all information in the application. 

Permits may take up to 30 days for review.

Cultural Resources Program staff will review applications for research that requires ground disturbance. This review may take 60 days or longer. The Texas Historical Commission may need to approve them, as well. 

Permits are valid once all parties sign them.

Permittees must provide the Natural Resources Program with a final report or publication at the conclusion of their study. 

Decision criteria

We consider applications using a peer review of favorable and unfavorable factors, an assessment of perceived risk to natural resources and impact on park activities, and on benefits in knowledge and understanding of park resources.

Natural Resources Program staff will work with applicants to arrive at a mutually acceptable research design, if possible. We will deny applications that have activities with no acceptable mitigating measures.

Favorable factors

Proposed research:

  • Contributes information that increases the understanding of park resources and thereby supports effective management and/or interpretation of park resources.
  • Provides for scheduled sharing of information with park staff including manuscripts, publications, maps, databases, etc.
  • Addresses problems or questions of importance to science and shows promise of making an important contribution to knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Involves researcher(s) who have a record of accomplishments in the proposed field of investigation with a demonstrated ability to work cooperatively to accomplish the desired tasks within a reasonable time frame.
  • Includes occasional summaries of findings for public use such as seminars and brochures.
  • Minimizes disruption to the park's natural and cultural resources, park operations and visitors.
  • Addresses plans for cataloging of and care for collected specimens.

Unfavorable factors

Proposed research:

  • May adversely impact the park's natural, cultural or scenic resources.
  • May adversely affect park visitors or staff or requires substantial logistical support from park staff.
  • Provides insufficient time for application review and consultation.
  • Involves extensively collecting natural materials or unnecessary replication of existing voucher collections or has the potential for a large amount of by-catch or non-target species impacts.
  • Will be conducted by a principal investigator who lacks scientific institutional affiliation and/or recognized experience conducting scientific research, or who has failed to provide adequate research reports for past permits.
  • Lacks adequate scientific detail and justification to support the research objectives and methods.
  • Does not provide benefits to the park and could easily be conducted outside park boundaries.
  • Does not provide for vouchering or storing collected specimens at a public institution.

Permit notification

The principal investigator will receive notice of our decision via email.

If we reject a study proposal, but modifications or changes would make it acceptable, the reviewer will suggest them at this time.

Applicants may consult SP Permits to clarify issues and discuss reconsideration if we reject their application.

Permit provisions

The following provisions (requirements and restrictions) apply to all research and collecting permits. All permittees must adhere to these provisions. Additional conditions may be included to address other stipulations or concerns.

A permit is valid only for the activities authorized in the permit. Permittees must carry a copy of the permit while conducting research in state parks.

Permittees will not have to pay regular entrance fees while conducting research but must contact the park a minimum of 48 hours in advance of any visits.

Permittee(s) must agree to and abide by the following provisions:

  1. Discretely conduct studies so as not to unduly disturb or destroy any physical, natural or aesthetic features within said parks (other than the specimens collected) or disturb park visitors.
  2. Notify the park superintendent upon arrival at the site.
  3. Abide by any special directives issued by or through the park superintendent concerning the area(s) where studies may be conducted.
  4. No study shall take place in the park before or after the permit period.
  5. All studies shall be conducted by the requester or by collaborators or assistants.
  6. Samples/specimens may not be sold or used for barter or trade.
  7. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department may revoke a permit at any time.
  8. A copy of the permit, signed by all parties, must be available for inspection during field work at park site.
  9. The permittee will provide Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a report summarizing project activities and detailing all collections associated with this permit (if applicable) at the conclusion of permit activities or immediately following permit expiration, whichever is first. Subsequent permit issuance is contingent upon report submittal.
  • The permittee agrees to furnish Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a copy of a summary of the studies conducted under this permit by March of the year following this permit and any published account resulting from investigations authorized by this permit.
  • The permittee agrees to furnish Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the name and location of the institution or collection in which the specimens are deposited (if applicable).
  • The permittee shall acknowledge Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in any published article regarding research carried out under the terms of this permit. The acknowledgement shall include the appropriate permit number(s).

Apply for a Permit

Download the State Park Scientific Study Permit Application and fill out completely. Submit completed application by email to State Park Permits.

We will mail printed versions upon request.

Email State Park Permits with questions or for help filling out this form.

Permit renewals, amendments or extensions

Request permit renewals no later than 30 days after the permit expires. Researchers will need to submit a new application after 30 days.

Request extensions and amendments while a permit is active.

Additional permits

Research projects may require other state or federal permits if activities will include handling migratory birds (rehabilitation, educational display or scientific collection) or threatened and endangered species.

Researchers must obtain a Wildlife Diversity Permit to collect, salvage, band or hold native Texas wildlife for scientific purposes. Scientific purposes include activities aimed at enhancing, protecting, conserving or managing protected wildlife, or furthering scientific understanding of a resource or the environment.

Research Reports and Deliverables

Researchers working in Texas state parks must submit a report at project completion and/or no later than 60 days after permit expiration. Reports may be in the form of compiled data, journal publications and/or other printed materials resulting from the studies.

We use this information to document accomplishments of research in state parks and state natural areas, confirm presence/absence or population status of resources within parks, and to provide data to managers for making informed decisions.

The level of detail in reports must match the detail and scope of research or collecting conducted.

  • If the research involves species surveys, the report must list the species found and include additional details such as the habitat in which they were found or other notable observations and management implications.
  • If GPS locations are taken on rare species or Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), the report must provide GPS data (coordinates) and/or GIS data (shapefiles).
  • The report must include any data gathered on population abundance and/or status or trends.
  • The report must include either GPS coordinates or a map showing plot locations of monitoring plots (if any).

Additional Information

Please email State Park Permits with any questions.

TPWD will waive entrance fees for those performing research at state parks.

Access to Boca Chica and Chinati Mountains State Natural Area is restricted at this time.