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Research and Collections Permit Information

Cleveland Metroparks permits the use of Park District lands for research and collection purposes. In general, allowed research and collection projects are non-manipulative in nature meaning that there will be minimal disturbance to a site, that no or small quantities of materials are collected for research purposes only, and that little or no flagging will be used to mark plots. Researchers are required to submit a permit application to the Manager of Field Research, Natural Resources Division, Cleveland Metroparks. A committee will review all permits and approve only those which conform to the goals and policies of our mission and do not interfere with ongoing conservation, education or recreational activities. Approved projects will be for the period originally outlined in the applications, and any extensions must be approved by the Manager of Field Research.

Cleveland Metroparks reservations were created for the enjoyment of the people, but also for the conservation of the natural resources of the state, including streams, lakes, submerged lands, and swamplands. To be true to this mission, park managers must not only manage the natural resources, facilities, roads and trails, but also park users. Public access is restricted to trails and approved areas and use of other areas must follow stringent guidelines to ensure user safety and conserve the natural features of the Park District. Permission to access off-trail areas for educational or research activities is granted through a permitting process.

A permit is required for any research and collection activities conducted in Cleveland Metroparks (whether they visibly disturb the site or not). If you intend to collect data or produce a written report in the form of a thesis, undergraduate or graduate paper, report or a publication, then it is likely you need a research permit (view a sample research permit).  If you have any questions regarding the permit process after reading the materials presented here, please contact the Manager of Field Research.

Cleveland Metroparks Expectations

As a permit holder, your plan and activities must be in compliance with all applicable laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations, including without limitation any and all conditions and requirements imposed by Cleveland Metroparks and other governmental authorities with competent jurisdiction. This includes any additional requirements or restrictions expressed in the permit issued to you.

Reasonable and prudent care must be taken to minimize disturbance and impact to biological, geological, archaeological, and other park resources and except as expressly permitted under this Permit. You will be liable to Cleveland Metroparks for loss or damage to park resources arising out of, or associated with or related to, any of the activities outlined in your permit and proposal.

We also ask that your research and collection methods not attract undue attention to sensitive park resources, including but not limited to threatened species, endangered species, rare species, archeological sites, caves, fossils, minerals, commercially valuable resources, and sacred ceremonial sites. Any flagging or other markings need to be explained in your proposal, and no private, public or media tours are allowed.

A project report (interim or final) that summarizes educational and research activities and results will be provided to Cleveland Metroparks no later than March 1 of the calendar year after the permit issued and March 1 of each calendar year thereafter, if applicable. A copy of publications and presentations associated with this project and produced within two (2) years after the expiration or earlier termination of the permit shall be provided to the Manager of Field Research.

Permit Process

Researchers must submit a title, abstract and contact email for initial consideration (Submit Research Proposal Abstract here).  This will generate an email to the Manager of Field Research.  If the project seems appropriate for a full application, you will receive a return email with a link to the more detailed permit application form. The abstract should be written using language so that an educated, non-specialist can understand exactly what you propose to do and what, if anything, you plan to collect. Proposals prepared for a funding application, work plan, formal agreement, or similar document likely will satisfy Cleveland Metroparks proposal requirements. Additional information may be necessary to enable reviewers to assess what, if any, impacts your research may have on Park District resources.

Proposal length depends on the complexity of the work planned and the potential impact on Park District resources. It can be short for a study expected to have no significant impact on park resources, and not interfere with visitor experiences or park management. Lengthy or complex research problems such as those for extensive collecting, and for work with special status species or sensitive cultural resources require longer and more detailed proposals.

To screen for potential conflicts of use and evaluate your permit, we will circulate the application via email to Park Managers, Natural Resource Area Managers, Nature Center Managers and all current permit holders. Once your permit has been approved, you will be notified, supplied with permit cards, and then be free to go about your business. A summary of your planned activities will be placed on Cleveland Metroparks Active Projects web page. 
Please allow at least 30 days for permit approval once all application materials have been submitted.  Plan ahead!

IMPORTANT: If your proposal is approved, a permit will be issued pending receipt of a Certificate of Liability Insurance (sample insurance certificate). The certificate should state that the researcher or the responsible institution will maintain commercial general liability insurance, and commercial automobile liability insurance. Each policy should have a combined single limit of not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, shall be primary to any insurance maintained by Cleveland Metroparks, and shall name the Board of Park Commissioners of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District as an additional insured. Additional details concerning the insurance certificate are available in paragraph 8 of the Sample Research Permit.

Once your permit is approved, you will be sent two copies of the permit. Sign both copies, keep one for your files and return one to the Field Research Manager. Once the signed copy is received, you will be notified by email and you may proceed with your project, always careful to follow the guidelines and protect the Park District’s integrity. Please carry a copy of your permit or one of the permit cards with you when on the preserve.

Research Permit Contact Information:
Manager of Field Research
Cleveland Metroparks
4500 Valley Parkway
Fairview Park, OH 44126