Western National Parks Association Research Grant

Western National Parks Association

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Grant amount: Up to US $7,500

Anticipated deadline: Aug 30, 2020

Applicant type: Unaffiliated Researcher Faculty Working Professional Postdoctoral Researcher

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Counties in Arizona: Apache County, Cochise County, Coconino County, Gila County, Maricopa County Show all

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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About this funder:



Why Your Research Matters to Our National Parks

For our national parks to flourish, each new generation must be able to connect with the public lands that

are part of our natural and cultural heritage. As a researcher, you can play a role in bringing the parks to the people and people to the parks.

Since its founding in 1938, Western National Parks Association (WNPA) has funded scientific, historical

and social science research in national parks to help advance their management, preservation, and interpretation. Conducting a meaningful, scientific inquiry is only the beginning of WNPA-funded research. One of our key goals is interpretation—turning research findings into relevant, engaging narratives that both inform and entertain park visitors.

To ensure that this goal is met, we require our applicants to work closely with both the chief of interpretation and the superintendent for the park where the research will be conducted. WNPA’s Research Committee will look most favorably upon applications that include a plan for interpretation-related products of research. These products might include workshops, posters, presentations, maps, guidebooks, fact sheets, or educational materials that can be displayed at the park.

A prototype of the interpretive materials or description of activities should be submitted as part of the final report. Researchers are encouraged to engage audience participation, add stories or anecdotes about the research process, and minimize scientific jargon.

WNPA supports research in all fields of scholarly research, including anthropology, archaeology, botany, citizen science, ecology, geology, history, natural history, social science, and zoology. Provided in this packet are examples that illustrate the scope of research supported by WNPA’s research grants program.

What's the Process?

Research grant funding is limited to a maximum of $7,500 per project per year. 

Proposals are typically generated in one of two ways:

  1. A National Park Service official determines a need for research and finds a principal investigator, or
  2. A researcher contacts the park with an idea for research.

All research proposals must be approved by the benefiting/host park chief of interpretation and superintendent prior to submission to WNPA.

All research proposals will be sent to the benefiting/host park Chief of Interpretation and Superintendent for approval prior to submission to Western National Parks Association. A single park Superintendent will submit no more than 3 proposals each year, including on-going, multiyear projects.

WNPA Partner Parks

The WNPA supports many national park partners across 12 western states. They are: 


Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Navajo National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Tonto National Monument, Tumacácori National Historical Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Wupatki National Monument.


Channel Islands National Park, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, John Muir National Historic Site, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Mojave National Preserve, Pinnacles National Park, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area


Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site


Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Nicodemus National Historic Site

Montana & Wyoming

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument 


Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail 


Great Basin National park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area 

New Mexico

Aztec Ruins National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, Capulin Volcano National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, El Malpais National Monument, El Morro National Monument, Fort Union National Monument, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park, Petroglyph National Monument,Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, Santa Fe National Historic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, White Sands National Monument


Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Washita Battlefield National HIstoric Site


Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Big Thicket National Preserve, Chamizal National Memorial, Fort DavisNational Historic Site, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Padre Island National Seashore, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park


Golden Spike National Historic Site, Timpanogos Cave National Monument

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Funding Criteria
    • All funding requests must originate in a WNPA-affiliated park.
    • All new and continuing funding requests must be approved and submitted via cover letter by the superintendent.
    • A single park may submit no more than three (3) proposals each year (including on-going, multiyear projects requesting another year of funding).
    • Superintendents submitting more than one proposal in a year must rank each proposal in terms of its priority to park needs
  • Who May Submit
    • The superintendent usually identifies the need for scientific research and seeks a qualified PI or institution/organization to submit a proposal.
    • However, qualified researchers may contact the superintendent directly regarding unsolicited proposals.
      • Note: Proposals submitted by the NPS without identifying a PI will not be considered for funding.


  • WNPA's research committee will look most favorably on applications that include a plan for interpretation-related products of research.
    • These products might include workshops, posters, presentations, maps, guidebooks, fact sheets, or educational materials that can be displayed at the park.
  • Priority will be given to those proposals requesting seed money or for proposals where matching cash or in-kind contributions are included.


  • Proposals submitted by the NPS without identifying a PI will not be considered for funding.
  • Graduate students may not serve as project PIs.
    • They may be listed as a Co-PI if the Lead PI is the academic supervisor.
    • All graduate students working on a project must be identified.
  • WNPA will consider funding research proposals submitted by active NPS employees.
    • However, WNPA will not fund their salaries or benefits.
  • WNPA does not provide funds for publication costs through the research grant program.
  • WNPA will not approve grants that include administrative or overhead costs of other organizations or institutions.
  • WNPA grant funds may not be used to augment the salary of faculty members 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.