Outreach :: State Lands Permits :: Guidelines For Completing A Research Permit Application

Applications for permits to conduct historical and archeological studies on state lands under Education Law 233 may be made by letter. A cover sheet for signatures must accompany the application and will be provided on request. A copy may be printed from this website by following the link at the end of this page.

The application letter must include the following:

  1. Documentation on what the site is, i.e., its age, type, function, history and condition. [Permits to excavate or remove artifacts or specimens from a site will normally not be given until complete documentary research on the site has been completed. The application letter should reflect the findings of that documentary research and should indicate how the project design reflects what is already known about the site from prior research.]

  2. Detailed plans for the physical operations of the project, including: A) Non-contact survey methodology and recording [if proposed]. B) Excavation of non-cultural or sterile overburden and recording [if proposed]. C) Excavation of cultural or geological deposits, exposure and recovery of objects or specimens, mapping and data recording [if proposed]. [Permits are given for research purposes, and proposals should include a research design appropriate to current professional standards and the scope of the project. More complex projects with a greater potential impact on archeological or paleontological resources will require more detailed proposals and research design information. It is advisable to have the proposal reviewed by a professional archeologist, geologist or someone with specific expertise in the type of project being proposed. Their letter of evaluation should accompany the application.]

  3. Plans for, and facilities to support, the conservation, cataloging, storage and analysis of excavated and collected materials. [All excavated and collected materials should be maintained in a stable state for study and prepared for storage using applicable standards of the New York State Museum. You may obtain additional information on those standards, including fees associated with permanent curation (if any), by contacting us using the address data at the top of this page.] Additional Information

  4. Proposals for the temporary and final disposition of materials and data. [All materials of archeological or paleontological significance on state lands are considered part of the collection over which the State Museum has responsibility, and are held in trust by the State Museum for the People of New York. Loans of collections or parts of collections may be arranged to an appropriate institution for purposes of study or exhibition.]
  5. Proposal and estimated time frame for submission of a preliminary and final research report and any plans to submit results for publication. [Annual reports on the progress of the project, and at its completion, are expected to be filed in a timely manner with the New York State Museum.]

In addition to making sure your proposal addresses the above issues, each letter of application must contain the following:

    The full name of the person to be legally responsible for the scientific operations of the project. Normally this person is the principal investigator and usually is also a professional archeologist or geologist. If the researcher represents an organization, it is usually preferable to have the permit issued to the researcher rather than to the corporate head of the organization.

    The date on which the proposal was mailed. Unless otherwise requested, the term of the project will be assumed to be for one year. The term of the permit will be for one year from the date of final approval.

    The name of any sponsoring or cooperating organization for which the applicant is acting as a representative in this project. If necessary, clarify the relationship between the applicant and that organization, and the organization and the project.

    A complete mailing address, with zip code.

    A complete phone number and FAX number (if available) with area code, where the applicant may be reached during regular working hours, with a back-up after hours number if applicable.

    Any E-mail or Website addresses related to the project.

    A portion of a USGS topographic map, DOT Planimetric map, or navigation chart showing the location and boundaries of the project study area. Be sure the map is identified as to type, source, scale and date of publication.

    A brief statement of the purpose of the project, how it will answer questions about history or prehistory, geology or paleontology. For more complex projects, or projects involving excavation or recovery of materials and artifacts, a more detailed statement of purpose will be expected.

New York State Museum
Revised 7/91
Guidelines for the Application of Education Law Section 233

Education Law Section 233 as amended in 1958 specifies that objects of historic or scientific interest on state lands, if not placed in other custody by law, are the responsibility of the State Museum. Permits to conduct research on such objects may be granted by the state agency having jurisdiction over the lands on which the objects exist to persons approved by the State Education Department. No disturbance of such objects may be undertaken without such a permit, and the discovery or inadvertent removal of such objects shall be reported to the State Museum.

The purpose of this law is to protect our archeological and historic resources so that future generations may have access to this heritage for study and appreciation. This law is intended to preserve such resources for all the people of New York, present and future, by preventing any individual or group of individuals from depriving the rest of the society of the enjoyment of these remnants of our past.

Lands owned by the State of New York and the submerged lands situated under navigable bodies of water, also under the jurisdiction of the State, are protected by this law.

Persons collecting objects or otherwise disturbing archeological or geological sites on such lands need a permit to do so, unless the objects or sites are determined to be not of historic or scientific interest.

Persons discovering objects that may be of historic or scientific interest are expected to report these finds to the State Museum.

Discovery of Objects of Possible Historic or Scientific Interest
If someone finds and collects an object on state lands or under water that may be of historic or scientific interest, they should contact the State Museum at the place indicated at the end of this document and ask for a determination. In most cases, photographs or other details on the object will be requested, if the object itself is not able to be delivered for examination. Staff of the State Museum will examine the information provided and will return a written determination on whether the object is protected under this law. If it is not, the finder may be able to retain the object if the state agency having jurisdiction over the lands where it was found has no objection. If it is determined to be a protected object, options for its treatment and disposition will be provided by the State Museum staff.

[NOTE: until a determination has been made, the object should be kept in a situation that prevents it from deteriorating. If from an underwater setting, it should be kept submerged in water of the type from which it was taken.]

Recovery of Objects of Historic or Scientific Interest
Collection of objects of historic or scientific interest or the disturbance of a site of objects of such interest requires a permit. Applications may be made to the State Museum for such permits.

[NOTE: A permit is not required for activities at or on such a site if those activities do not disturb the site and do not involve removal of objects from the site.]

A file of active and pending permits is maintained by the State Museum. You may determine whether there is an active permit for a specific area by contacting the office indicated at the end of this document.

Violations of Section 233 may be reported to the State Police or other law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the area in which the violation is occurring. In most cases there is no listing of protected sites or of protected types of objects. A case by case evaluation by State Museum staff would have to be made to determine whether the site and/or objects involved are protected by the law.

Objects believed to have been removed from state lands without the requisite permit should be placed in the custody of the appropriate law enforcement agency until a review by the State Museum staff can be completed.

For additional information, permit application guidelines, and assistance, please contact:
Philip Lord, Jr.
Room CEC 3097
New York State Museum
Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12230

Application Cover Sheet Form

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