The National Park Service (NPS) plans to require researchers using specimens collected from national parks to enter into a benefits-sharing agreement with NPS if their research produces discoveries or inventions with some valuable commercial application.  Discoveries would not be permitted to be used for commercial applications without the benefits-sharing agreement.  Under the new rules, researchers with commercially successful discoveries would provide monetary or non-monetary compensation to the NPS on an annual basis, subject to the terms of their benefit-sharing agreement.

The decision was issued in a final Environmental Impact Statement published in the Federal Register (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-28039.htm).  The decision is an outgrowth of several commercial applications of scientific discoveries made in national parks, the most notable being the invention of PCR from the study of a microorganism discovered in Yellowstone National Park.

The NPS will implement the requirement for a benefits-sharing agreement no sooner than 30 days from November 23, 2009.  This requirement will not affect current requirements or the application process for obtaining a permit to conduct research in a national park, as the benefits-sharing agreement would be initiated after permitted research was conducted.

More information is available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov (select “Washington Office” from the park menu and then follow the link for benefits-sharing).