The National Park Service's natural history collections soon will be available to outside researchers for the first time, under a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.
Under the agreement signed this week, the NPS will maintain ownership of its thousands of specimens, but the Smithsonian will permanently take over custodial care of the collection. The Smithsonian's Under Secretary for Science Eva Pell says the museum and research complex can enhance care and access by working with the park service.
Among other things, the collection includes 138 specimens discovered in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina that are being documented to establish new species. It also holds 3,000 specimens from Potomac River Gorge, and along Virginia's George Washington Memorial Parkway.