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Science and the National Parks
proaches—can be funded by the Park Service, outside organizations, interagency cooperative efforts, or the cooperating nonprofit associations found in many parks. It could be carried out by NPS employees or by researchers and students from academic institutions (including land grant and private institutions), research organizations, or other government agencies. Because there will always be insufficient funding, and because the science program will include basic and applied research, the program must involve frequent and close cooperation with the external research community. Such research will fall into both the science-for-parks and parks-for-science categories. Over time, the importance of parks as sites for research in increasingly critical areas such as ecology, biological diversity, climate change, acid precipitation, aquatic systems, and other natural resource-related areas will grow and bring enhanced opportunities for external funding. As the NPS expands its science program and attracts more collaborators, it will have to ensure that its administrative processes are capable of handling research requests, ruling on the admissibility of experimental and manipulative studies, and incorporating data and publications into the NPS's growing scientific record.
The Need for an External Advisory Board
The National Park Service should enlist the services of a high-level science advisory board to provide long-term guidance in planning, evaluating, and setting policy for the science program. This independent advisory board should report to the director annually, and its reports should be available to the public.
Virtually all high-quality science programs are subjected to careful, continuing peer review. This helps ensure the most efficient use of resources and the most beneficial results, and it provides a clear, independent voice of evaluation. A strong review process operates in several capacities: developing research ideas and proposals; providing continuing supervision of activities; and assuring the quality of research results and final products, including efforts to trans-