Research Natural Areas (RNA) are federal lands managed for research and education purposes.  The majority of designated natural areas in Oregon are part of the federal Research Natural Areas program.

The RNA program was created to:

  1. Preserve examples of all significant natural ecosystems for comparison with those influenced by man
  2. Provide educational and research areas for ecological and environmental studies
  3. Preserve gene pools of typical and endangered plants and animals

In the Pacific Northwest, the DoD Army Corps of Engineers, USDA Forest Service, USDI National Park Service, USDI Bureau of Land Management, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of Energy all participate in the program. The U.S. Forest Service has provided a regional RNA coordinator to help manage the Pacific Northwest Interagency Natural Areas Network and RNA committee. This committee meets biannually to promote the program and coordination on the establishment and management of these areas.

In addition to RNAs, the Bureau of Land Management has established many sites that have significant natural area values as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. These sites are recognized along with RNAs, State Natural Heritage Conservation Areas, and Marine Reserves as critical components of the natural area network. RNAs and ACECs are included in the 2010 map and listing of natural areas of Oregon (from 2010 Natural Areas Plan).

Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum habitat, photograph by Peter Zika.