||Following careful consideration of input received during the public comment process on the draft EIS, we are pleased to present the Benefits-Sharing Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). In completing the FEIS, NPS staff received and reviewed comments submitted by about 9,600 individuals and organizations during the 130-day review period (Sept. 22, 2006 to Jan. 29, 2007). A range of issues and concerns were identified, many of which have been incorporated into this FEIS.
Following a required 30-day period of "no action," the NPS is expected to sign a "Record of Decision" (ROD). This ROD will represent the conclusion of the planning process and provide the guidance for parks and researchers about their rights and responsibilities related to research conducted on park resources.
The FEIS concerns a Servicewide proposal to clarify the rights and responsibilities of researchers and NPS regarding the use of valuable discoveries, inventions, and other developments that result from research involving specimens lawfully collected from units of the NPS. The FEIS examines whether the NPS should share in potential scientific and economic benefits when researchers studying park resources invent something commercially valuable based on their research.
The Preferred Alternative requires researchers who study park scientific specimens to enter into benefits-sharing agreements with NPS before using their research results for any commercial purpose. Benefits-sharing agreements could return scientific benefits, in-kind services and sometimes royalties and other monetary benefits to parks for conservation-related purposes. Another alternative prohibits scientific research involving NPS specimens if associated with the development of commercial products. The No-Action alternative would allow research that may lead to commercial products to continue in parks but without any obligation to share any resulting benefits with the NPS.