Research Grants - Western National Parks Association

Research Grants

Why Research Matters

“We need to engage the next generation in preserving our heritage.”
-Al Remley, National Park Service Ranger San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Western National Parks Association (WNPA) supports the acquisition of knowledge by providing grants in support of research that benefits the management, preservation, and interpretation of National Park Service (NPS) resources served by WNPA. The research grant program supplements research programs of the NPS. Grant proposals are reviewed annually by WNPA’s Research Committee, which consists of board members and other volunteers with extensive backgrounds in science and other relevant experience.

Earn A WNPA Grant

As a researcher, you can help WNPA connect people to parks, a strategy that helps engage future generations of advocates who want our national parks to flourish.

The 2024 funding cycle runs from October 2, 2023 through February 29, 2024 or until allocated funding is exhausted. If you plan to submit a proposal, the first step is to communicate your interest by clicking on the link to Register Your Research Grant Proposal. This allows WNPA to gauge interest and alert interested parties when funds have been expended, at which time the cycle will close.

  • If you plan to submit a proposal, the first step is to communicate your interest by clicking on the link to Register Your Research Grant Proposal. This allows WNPA to gauge interest and alert interested parties when funds have been expended.
  • Proposals are typically generated in one of two ways:
    • National Park Service (NPS) official determines a need for research and finds a principal investigator (PI).
    • Researcher contacts the park with an idea for research.
  • Submissions must be completed electronically through the WNPA web portal from October 2, 2023 through February 29, 2024 or until the allocated funding is exhausted, at which time the cycle will close. The full RFP, including guidelines and application samples, is available for downloading at the top and bottom of this page.
  • WNPA Research Committee reviews submitted grant proposals and approves funding awards on a first come first serve basis in the order proposals are received.
  • Parks and primary principal investigator(s) will be notified by email of funding decisions within 30-days from the submission date.
  • Shortly thereafter, those approved for funding will receive an electronic copy of the 2024 WNPA Grant Awardee Handbook.
    • This document includes the grant agreement, which requires electronic signatures of the benefiting/host park superintendent and chief of interpretation, and primary principal investigator as the final step in the grant approval process.
    • The handbook will be routed for signatures through DocuSign.
    • Once fully executed by all parties, a final copy will be delivered to all signers automatically by DocuSign.

Where We Fund

Grant projects must originate in a WNPA-affiliated park in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

What We Fund

All fields of scholarly research are supported, including anthropology, archaeology, botany, citizen science, ecology, geology, history, natural story, social science, and zoology.

Who May Apply

    • Historically, the park superintendent identifies the need for research and seeks a qualified principal investigator (PI) or institution/organization before submitting a proposal. Qualified researchers may contact the superintendent directly regarding unsolicited proposals.
        • All WNPA research proposals must be approved and submitted by the park superintendent.
    • Consideration will also be given to proposals submitted by active National Park Service (NPS) employees. Graduate students may not serve as project PIs but may be listed as a co-PI if the lead PI is the academic supervisor.
    • A single park may submit no more than two proposals every year.
    • Superintendent’s submitting more than one proposal in a year must rank each proposal in terms of its priority for park needs.

How Much We Fund

The funding limit for research grants is $20,000 for one-year projects; $40,000 for two-year projects; and $60,000 for three-year projects. For information regarding multiyear funding, refer to the section titled Guidelines.

Research Project Start Date
Proposals must reflect a start date no earlier than sixty-days from the proposal submission date and no later than September 30, 2024.


  • Travel, equipment, and supplies required by a PI to conduct their research must appear on the budget form and be explained in detail.
  • All requests for salaries, stipends, or payment for any individual must indicate what work is to be done to merit the payment and rate of pay for reimbursement. Graduate student stipends will be supported but not tuition payments.
  • An itemized list of equipment purchase exceeding $100 is required on the budget form. The purchased items become the property of the NPS when the project is completed unless other arrangements have been made with WNPA.
  • Any supporting documentation resulting from WNPA-funded research, such as oral history tapes, photographs, collections, and specimens, becomes the property of the NPS; the PI and park superintendent are responsible for following current NPS policies and procedures involving disposition of such documents or items.

Non-Qualified Expenses: WNPA will not provide monies for the following and may deny funding if such are included:

  • Publication costs.
  • Active National Park Service employee salaries and/or benefits.
  • Administrative or overhead costs of other organizations and institutions.
  • Augmenting the salary of faculty members at institutions of higher education during the period covered by the term of faculty appointment or to reimburse faculty members for consulting if they receive a regular full institutional salary covering the same period of employment as the research project. WNPA regards research as one of the normal functions of faculty members at institutions of higher education.

Multiyear Projects

Under special circumstances, multiyear proposals, up to three years, will be considered, based on the following conditions:

  • Initial proposal states the proper project duration and project completion date.
  • Project objectives, methods, participants for each year are clearly outlined, and estimated budget (with justification) is explicitly detailed.
  • Submission of adequate and timely annual report for the duration of the project as required by WNPA.
  • A park may have only one ongoing, multiyear project under way at any given time.
  • The funding limit for multiyear projects if $50,000 for a two-year project and $60,000 for a three-year project.

Failure to submit adequate and timely annual reporting for the duration of the project, as required by WNPA, may result in the forfeiture of unpaid funds.

  1. A park may have only one ongoing, multiyear project under way at any given time.
  2. Approval of first-year funding does not automatically assure funding of second or third years.
  • One of WNPA’s key goals is interpretation—turning research findings into relevant, authentic, inclusive, and engaging narratives that both inform and entertain park visitors. The Research Committee looks favorably on applications that include a plan for accessible, inclusive, and creative interpretation-related products of research that will have a direct impact on visitor interpretation, particularly products that authentically represent diverse perspectives or reflect on civic engagement in the parks.
  • If the proposal is a request for seed money to justify proposing a larger project to another agency, or if the proposed research will augment an already funded or proposed non-WNPA project, clearly explain the relationship.
  • Priority will be given to those proposals for which matching cash or in-kind contributions are included. It is very important to note any matching or in-kind funds in your budget

Online Grant Proposal
All proposals must be approved and submitted by the benefiting/host park superintendent online through the WNPA web portal. Links to the applications are located at the top and bottom of this page along with an option to download the complete RFP.

Deadline for Submission
For fiscal year 2024 project funding consideration, all proposals must be submitted through the WNPA web portal from October 2, 2023 through February 29, 2024 or until notice of allocated funding being exhausted, at which time the cycle will close.

WNPA Contact Information
After reading all the provided materials, should you have questions or need assistance, contact us.

For your reference, below are past research proposals deemed outstanding by the WNPA Research Committee.

FY 2020 Proposals

Channel Islands National Park
Saving Cultural Resources from National Resources: Salvage Archaeology in a Pinniped Rookery

Pinnacles National Park
Unveiling a potential new species of California Jewelflower endemic to Pinnacles National Park

Channel Islands National Park
Understanding a Decade of Dietary Competition in Two Endemic Island Carnivores: Implications for Conservation, Resilience, and Persistence

FY 2019 Proposals

Bandelier National Monument

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Saguaro National Park

FY 2018 Proposals

Bandelier National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

El Malpais National Monument

Exploring Our Parks through Science

Scientists tell fascinating stories about our national parks’ history, culture, and nature. WNPA shares them to give you a deeper understanding of our park treasures.