MOU between the Smithsonian and the National Park Service broadens access and research

April 26, 2012

Scientific, educational and programmatic access to specimens from some of America's most important sites has been enhanced through a new partnership between the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday, April 25, that gives broader access to National Park Service collections through the Smithsonian's care and management of them.

Natural history collections transferred to the Smithsonian will continue to be owned by the National Park Service but will be in the permanent custodial care of the Smithsonian. Increased access to these collections will enhance the biological and geographical diversity in the Smithsonian's collections, and the research resulting from the collections will provide new scientific information to the National Park Service. This partnership will also enable new scientific research nationally and internationally, as well as education and program possibilities for the public.

"Two venerable institutions long known for protecting the nation's heritage are now working together to enhance care and access to specimens that document the natural environment of our national parks," said Scott Miller, Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support at the Smithsonian.

The biological, paleontological and geological specimens under the new MOU were originally collected on National Park Service lands across the U.S. In addition to broadening access to these specimens, the resulting research through the MOU will improve identification and increase the understanding of biodiversity in the national parks.

"This agreement benefits science, the American people and the long-standing and historic relationship between our two organizations," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Together we are building a collection that will become an extraordinary tool for the scientific community to study biodiversity, evolution and the distinctive character of national park ecosystems."

Biological, paleontological and geological specimens collected in the future will also fall under this new agreement, and the Smithsonian will continue to work with the National Park Service to build collections, increase access to them and share the resulting information.


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