WASHINGTON - The Smithsonian Institution has agreed to take over custodial care of the National Park Service's natural history collections to make them available to outside researchers for the first time.
Under an agreement signed Wednesday, the park service maintains ownership of its thousands of specimens, but they will be in the Smithsonian's care permanently.
Examples of the collection include 138 specimens discovered in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina that are being documented to establish new species. There are also 3,000 specimens from Virginia's George Washington Memorial Parkway and Potomac River Gorge that include some possibly new species.
Smithsonian Under Secretary for Science Eva Pell says the museum and research complex can enhance care and access to specimens by working with the park service.
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