Research Grants 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 supports the acquisition of knowledge by providing grants in support of research that benefit 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 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. Our research grant program supplements research programs of the National Park Service.

The funding cycle for fiscal year 2022 is now closed. Funding consideration for fiscal year 2023 will open in August/September 2022. To be placed on our notification list, please contact us. We will email you more information when it is available.

  • 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 no later than November 16, 2021. The full RFP including guidelines, application copies, and reference materials, is available for downloading at the top/bottom of this page.
  • WNPA Research Committee reviews submitted grant proposals and approves funding.
  • Parks and primary principal investigator will be notified by email of funding decisions the week of December 13, 2021.
  • Shortly thereafter, those approved for funding will receive an electronic copy of the 2022 WNPA Grant Awardee Handbook.
      • This document includes the grant agreement which requires electronic signatures of the benefiting/host park superintendent, chief of interpretation and primary principal investigator.
      • A copy of the handbook will be delivered electronically through DocuSign. Once fully executed by all parties, a final copy will be delivered to all signers.

Where We Fund

Grant projects must originate in a WNPA-affiliated park in the states of 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.
    • 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 three (3) proposals every year, including ongoing, multi-year projects requesting another year of funding.
    • 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

For information regarding multi-year funding, see the section titled Multi-Year Projects under the section titled Guidelines.

Research Project Start Date
Proposals must reflect a start date between January 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022.


  • Travel, equipment, and supplies required by a PI to conduct their research must appear on the budget form and 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 documents or items of this nature.

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 high 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.

Multi-Year Projects
Under special circumstances, multi-year proposals, up to three (3) years, will be considered based on the following conditions:

  • The initial proposal states the time it will take to complete the research.
  • Each year’s objectives, methods, participants, and estimated budget (with justification) are explicitly outlined.
  • First year must be deemed successful which includes submission of adequate and timely reporting as required by WNPA.
  • Funding beyond the first year’s budget is requested through the continuation research proposal process each year.
      • This request is a concise one-to-two-page summary of progress to date, objectives for the next year(s), and any significant changes to the initial proposed projects and budget(s), together with the one-page budget and its justification for the year.
      • Funds for second and third years will not be released until all reporting requirements for prior years have been met.


  1. A park may have only one ongoing, multi-year project underway 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, engaging narratives that both inform and entertain park visitors. Hence, the research committee looks favorably upon applications which include a plan for creative interpretation-related products of research that will have a direct impact on visitor interpretation.
  • 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 where matching cash or in-kind contributions are included. It is very important to note any matching or in-kind funds in your budget.
  • A proposal that is only a slight modification and/or extension of a one-year project in progress will be declined. If the PI believes a one-year pilot project will likely lead to a subsequent request to WNPA for further work, the proposal should be written as a multi-year project.

Online Grant Proposal
All proposals and renewal budget request(s) must be approved and submitted by the benefiting/host park superintendent online through the WNPA web portal. The applications can be accessed through the links provided at the top/bottom of this page, and a full copy of the RFP is available for downloading.

Deadline for Submission
For fiscal year 2022 project funding consideration, all proposals and renewal budget request(s) must be submitted through the WNPA web portal no later than November 16, 2021.

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.