Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program

Plant survey in the Red Lake Peatland SNA.

The Scientific and Natural Area Program encourages research that advances the knowledge of natural systems. A wealth of data has been collected from research conducted on Scientific and Natural Areas. Permits to conduct research are required and new proposals are welcomed.

The program gives priority to research that monitors the effects of management practices on Natural Areas without causing harm to existing species and habitats. All research proposals receive careful consideration.

Projects may include:

  • Surveying plant or animal populations as baseline data for measuring the effects of environmental change
  • Monitoring the effects of management practices
  • Determining special habitat requirements for rare species
  • Following system recovery from natural catastrophic events
  • Observing the behavior or studying the genetics of rare species
  • Studying natural processes such as carbon cycling, pollination or global climate change
  • Assessing a site for contaminants

...or anything that increases our understanding of natural systems without impacting the site's natural resources.

Who can apply to conduct research?

Researchers, including undergraduate and graduate students, as well as university professors and independent scientists, are strongly encouraged to apply. All researchers must submit a completed research application  .

Applications must include and describe:

  • Experience in research area
  • Reason for selecting study area/selected Natural Area
  • Objectives, design, methods and procedure
  • Field work schedule
  • Design and methods of research
  • Collection of any resources and methods of collection
  • Impacts and effects on management
  • Equipment to be used
  • Project documentation and presentation of results

As a general rule, researchers must submit a copy of their findings to the Scientific and Natural Area Program no later than two years after completion of the project. If applicable, they must also deposit any collected specimens in an approved Minnesota public institution.

A special use permit may be required for non-research related uses on Scientific and Natural Areas. These uses may include, but are not limited to, large groups, classes or organized activities; some types management work or entrance into sanctuaries; and drone or trail camera use. You may be asked to report or share results of allowed special uses.