Skip to main content

Natural Resources Agency Government Documents and Technical Reports


This is a research guide to govenment documents and technical reports issued by United States federal and California State agencies. The focus is on agencies responsible for managing and conducting research in natural resources.

Documents issued by other state, foreign, or international agencies are listed in the HSU Library Catalog and are located in the regular bookstacks. You should consult the "Monographic Series" section in individual natural resources research guides for the best way to search for these publications.


There are major federal and state government agencies that conduct research, gather statistics and have managerial or regulatory responsibilities over the nation's natural resources. Publications resulting from these activities typically fall into four general categories of publications:

  1. Informational and public relations handouts, e.g., brochures and maps
  2. Records of activities, e.g., annual reports and administrative regulations
  3. Research reports (Note: the results of some agency research is published in the "open" scientific literature as journal articles and other publications)
  4. Statistical compilations

The HSU Library is an official "depository library" for federal and state govenment documents and annually receives approximately 6,000 government documents in either paper or microfiche format. Currently 70% of all federal publications are available on the Internet.

Location and Organization

Publications from federal and California state agencies are located in a separate "Documents Collection" on the third floor of the HSU Library that currently contains over 500,000 government documents dating back to the 1800's.

Federal documents are shelved using the hierarchical Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System which places all documents issued by a particular agency together under the same classification number, e.g. I 49 for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Natural Resources Agencies section lists the basic classification numbers for federal departments and independent agencies in natural resources. Within each agency, every publication series is assigned its own unique sub-number, e.g. I 49.66 for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Resource Publication series. 80% of government documents are published in a named or numbered series. For a more complete description see Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification.

California docments are shelved in a similar fashion using the California State Agency Classification System. In this classification the first line is based on a key word in the agency's name plus a numeric whole number, e.g., W730 for the State Water Resources Control Board. The next line derives from a keyword in the publication or series title and the third line, if necessary, refers to years, bulletins, numbers, etc.; e.g., W 730 W32 for theWater Quality Monitoring Report.

For further information on locating government documents see the HSU Library's general Government Documents web page.

Research Help

Katia Karadjova
Office Hours
Research Help Desk:
Wed: 10 am - 1 pm,
Thu: 1 - 4 pm,
Library Office L3:
by appointment
(707) 826-5617

Content Attribution

Some of he content of this guide was created in another format by Robert Sathrum, HSU Librarian, retired 06/2013.