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Permits and Environmental Consultation

Permits and Environmental Consultation

Securing permits for fieldwork can be challenging with long lead times.  Although researchers are responsible for all permitting related to their fieldwork, the Battelle ARO team is available to assist and provide guidance throughout the permitting process.  Battelle ARO can help identify required permits and provide expertise in specific areas that require local knowledge or other key agency contacts.
For more information on permitting and environmental compliance in the most frequently proposed Arctic locations, visit the links below.  Please note that these are merely provided as a starting point, and it remains your responsibility to ensure you are meeting your permit and environmental obligations.

 

Alaska

Permits - Alaska

Toolik Field Station

 

Utqiaġvik

 

Land Ownership

Utilize the following maps to determine land ownership


Bureau of Land Management

Local BLM managers can help researchers find the best opportunities, based on the needs of the study. For more information and to determine if any special permissions may be required, contact the nearest BLM Field Office to discuss your proposed research. A directory of BLM offices is available.

Timeline & Form: The required BLM form is 2920-1, and processing can take 60-90 days. The BLM requests that the 2920-1 form be submitted as soon as possible once the NSF has recommended a project for funding.
 
Fees: The fees associated with the BLM permit will vary from project to project, but some general guidelines are below. Note that research projects based out of the University of Alaska system do not pay the processing fee or monitoring fee.

Completing the 2920-1 Form: Filling out the 2920-1 form in a way that emphasizes the potential impacts and hazard mitigation of activities being proposed will facilitate the BLM permitting process. When completing the 2920-1 form, keep the details regarding potential land-use impacts to technical specifications of the activities being performed; specifically, attention should be given to:
 

If a project is classified as ‘casual use’ then a BLM permit is not required. However, only the BLM can make the determination that a project is casual use. There are no specific groups of activities that fall under a ‘casual use’ classification. The BLM looks at the cumulative impact of projects in a certain area, so even if a given activity is classified as ‘casual use’ in one area, the exact same activity may require permitting in a separate location due to the proximity/history of other research projects and/or historically/archeologically sensitive sites.

* Note: Boardwalks are required by the BLM in some situations, depending on how often the site will be accessed, the type of landscape, and how many people will be accessing the site. There will be additional costs involved if boardwalks are deemed necessary, in addition to the cost of installing the boardwalks.

National Park Service Lands

When doing research in a national park, a researcher must obtain an NPS Scientific Research and Collecting Permit. The NPS uses the web served Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS) to administer scientific studies and collecting activities within units of the National Park System.
For more information on permitting in national parks:  

Permit Coordinator
National Park Service
Fairbanks Administrative Center
4175 Geist Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709-3420
907-457-5752
Contact Form

State Lands

Permits from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (AK DNR) are needed if you are going to (1) place monitoring equipment on the landscape for more than 2 weeks; (2) stage a camp in one or more locations for more than 2 weeks; or (3) conduct off-road travel to reach a study site.

Land use permits are authorizations issued to use state land, on a temporary basis, for a variety of purposes. The permits range in duration from 1 to 5 years. They are intended for temporary, non-permanent uses such as floating lodges, log storage, scientific research, guide camps, equipment storage, and commercial recreation uses.

Archaeology on State Lands needs a State Cultural Resource Investigation Permit (SCRIP) application.

For more information on State permitting, check out the land use permitting page AK DNR Land Use Permit.

Applications typically take 4-6 weeks to process and have a public notice period for review.

Wildlife Refuges (Fish and Wildlife Service)

A Special Use Permit is required for all scientific studies or research activities occurring on National Wildlife Refuges where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not an active participant in the activity.

More information can be found at Scientific Research Permits - Arctic - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (fws.gov).

Tribal Consultation

In accordance with the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is committed to respecting the sovereignty and self-governance of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations (Tribal Nations). The NSF expects researchers to adhere to the Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic, a set of research principles from the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) that emphasizes appropriate behavior, communication, and stewardship practices when working on or near Tribal lands, in communities, and/or with Indigenous Peoples.

Fieldwork in Alaska is especially susceptible to tribal consultation as Alaska is home to 40% of federally-recognized Tribal Nations. The NSF encourages community engagement and communication with local communities prior to an/or during fieldwork, this consultation may result in an agreement to share results or project outcomes. Indigenous partners are integral to co-production of new knowledge, community-based participatory research, community-based observing or other approaches to engagement between researchers and Indigenous communities. The Arctic Sciences Section developed a special call for proposals to support engagement through the Dear Colleague Letter: Potential Support for Community Hubs for Collaborations Between NSF-funded Arctic Researchers  and Arctic Residents.

Resources to help identify indigenous communities and tribes.

Forest Service Land

To apply for a special use permit on Forest Service land, you’ll need to contact the specific forest service office where research will take place.

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Consultation for Projects with Ground Disturbance/Archaeology Work

Any proposed work with ground disturbance or archeology work is subject to consultation with the SHPO and other interested parties under Section 106 of the NHPA.

Endangered Species Act – Section 7

Endangered species are protected under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

Marine Mammal Protection Act

Threatened and Endangered Species List

Species 

Status 

 

Managing Agency 

Short-tailed Albatross 

Endangered 

 

USFWS (Anchorage) 

 

Eskimo Curlew 

 

Endangered 

USFWS (Fairbanks) 

 

Spectacled Eider 

 

Threatened 

 

USFWS (Fairbanks) 

 

Steller's Eider 

 

Threatened 

 

USFWS (Fairbanks) 

 

Northern Sea Otter 

 

Threatened 

 

USFWS (Anchorage) 

 

Polar Bear 

 

Threatened 

 

USFWS (Fairbanks) 

 

Aleutian shield Fern 

 

USFWS (Anchorage) 

 

Leatherback Sea Turtle 

 

Endangered 

 

NOAA 

 

Steller Sea-lion, eastern population 

 

Threatened 

 

NOAA 

Bowhead Whale 

Endangered 

NOAA 

Finback Whale (Fin Whale) 

Endangered 

NOAA 

Humpback Whale 

Endangered 

Blue Whale 

Endangered 

Cook Inlet Beluga Whale 

North Pacific Right Whale 

Endangered 

 

NOAA 

Sei Whale 

Endangered 

NOAA 

 

Sperm Whale 

Endangered 

NOAA 

Green Sea Turtle 

 

Threatened 

 

NOAA 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle 

 

Threatened 

 

NOAA 

 

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 

Threatened 

 

NOAA 

Wood Bison 

 

Threatened 

 

USFWS 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Land Disturbance and Vegetation Clearing

Projects that include Land Disturbance and Vegetation Clearing should be aware of nesting birds in the area.

Times To Avoid Land Disturbance & Vegetation Clearing Forest / Woodland Shrub / Open Seabird Colonies Incl. Cliff & Burrow Colonies Eagles *e
Southeast 15 April - 15 July *a 1 May - 15 July *a,b 1 May - 5 Sept 1 Mar - 31 Aug
Kodiak Archipelago     15 April - 7 Sept  
Southcentral Lake Illiamna to Copper River Delta; north to Talkeetna 1 May - 15 July *a,b      
Bristol Bay/AK Peninsula north to Lake Illiamna 1 May - 15 July *a,b,c   10 May - 15 Sept  
Interior north of Talkeetna to south slope Brooks Range; west to treeline 1 May - 15 July *a,b   1 May - 20 July *d  
Aleutian Islands N/A 25 April - 15 July *a 1 May - 15 Sept  
Yukon - Kuskokwim Delta 1 May - 15 July 5 May - 25 July *a,b,c 20 May - 15 Sept  
Seward Peninsula   10 May - 20 July *a,c    
Northern including northern foothills of Brooks Range N/A 1 June - 31 July *a,c    
Pribilof/Bering Sea Islands   15 May - 15 July *a 15 May - 15 Sept  
Table: Nesting seasons by habitat type and region and times to avoid land disturbance and vegetation clearing.

Source: https://www.fws.gov/alaska-bird-nesting-season

Arctic Ocean

Vessel projects may be subject to review by NOAA/NMFS and USFWS under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). MMPA and ESA apply to waters under the jurisdiction of the United states (200 nautical miles from the coast). Under the MMPA, “take” (harassing, hunting, killing or capturing) of any marine mammal is unlawful, 80% of marine mammals are listed as threatened and endangered and additionally protected by the ESA. Depending on the species that could be impacted, USFWS and/or NOAA/NMFS will need to be consulted. In Alaska, USFWS is responsible for sea otters and marine otters, walruses and polar bears while NOAA/NMFS is responsible for pinnipeds (including seals and sea lions) and cetaceans (i.e., whales and dolphins).

Battelle ARO can assist researchers in determining if their project will be doing work in areas that could impact marine mammals, threatened and endangers species, essential fish habitat or a species critical habitat. For projects likely to have adverse effects, the consultation process could take between 6 to 7 months.

For more information on consultation with NOAA and USFWS on Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection act:

Section 7 Consultations in Alaska | NOAA Fisheries

Marine Mammals Management | Alaska Region (fws.gov)

Marine Mammal Protection | NOAA Fisheries

Consultation on an Endangered Species | Alaska Region (fws.gov)

Additionally, all vessel projects need to consider any subsistence hunting conflicts. Researchers should plan to engage with local Arctic communities to ensure the vessel track is not infringing on subsistence hunting.  

Subsistence information:

Bowhead Range and Seasonality (Source: ADFG, 2011)


Bowhead Range and Seasonality (Source: ADFG, 2011)

 

Greenland

 

Resources:

Norway

Research Permits in Norway

General information on the Norwegian Environment Agency

Archaeological research or research that could impact historic properties.

Marine research

Animal research

Vessel/maritime research

UAV

Helicopters, fixed-wing flights

 

Svaldbard Specific

For more information on permits specific to Svaldbard.