Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Park Regulations & Safety

Plan A Field Trip: Permit Applications

Permits are required to bring groups to the islands. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) requires all groups with more than 25 members to submit a Recreational Use Permit prior to the day of the expedition. There is a nominal processing fee associated with the permit.

Information you must identify in the permit includes the contact information of the group leader, school name, number of participants and departure times and location. Completion of the permit should take less than 10 minutes.

To obtain a use permit contact the Group Permit Coordinator with DCR at (781) 740-1605 ext 200. Ask for the Recreational Use Permit specifically for Boston Harbor Islands.  

If your expedition destination is Thompson Island, contact the Outward Bound staff at (617) 328-3900 ext. 116 to inquire about the necessary permits, including those if you intend to stay overnight.

Trip Tip!: Ask how many days in advance the completed permit should be returned. Remember to include any processing fees!

Island Research

The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership facilitates natural, cultural, and social science studies and scholarly research. These studies support the park mission by providing a cumulative and constantly refined understanding of park resources, along with an understanding of park visitors, the non-visiting public, and human interactions with park resources. This approach provides a scholarly or scientific basis for planning, development, and management decisions.

The data and information acquired through studies conducted in the park are made available broadly—to park managers, the preservation and scientific communities, and the public—except when information must be withheld to protect sensitive park resources, or where legal restrictions apply.

Research Priorities
The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership is currently developing research priorities for the islands. In general, priorities for detailed studies focus on the protection of resources in the areas of greatest visitor concentration, on the hub islands, or where baseline data identify sensitive resources. If you have a proposal, please contact us at 617-223-8669.

Research Permits
Independent studies are not required to address specifically identified Partnership management issues or information needs. However, these studies, including data and specimen collection, require a research permit. Permission for independent research that would allow the physical disturbance of cultural resources or provide for the collection of objects or specimens in the park, is granted only when there is compelling evidence that the proposed research is essential to significant research concerns and that the purpose of the research can be reasonably achieved only by using park resources.

The National Park Service acts as the clearinghouse for research permit applications. After receiving a complete application, the NPS forwards the information to the appropriate owner(s) and remains the coordinator for research applications. The decision to issue permission for research is made by the owner.

An individual may obtain NPS application materials for Boston Harbor Islands at