Geographic Names Information System - 11 of 25

Geographic Names Information System FAQs - 25 Found

How can I propose to change the name of a natural feature?

Proposals to change the name of a natural feature may be submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names as described below. However, there must be a compelling reason. The Board is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government, and discourages name changes unless necessary. Further, the Board states that, 'changing a name merely to correct or re-establish historical usage is not in and of itself a reason to change a name.'

Names evolve, and even through cartographic recording errors, become established in the local vernacular. Geographic names usually are well established on maps, other documents, and on signs. Although any approved name change will be reflected immediately in the GNIS, maps, other documents, and signs will only be changed during the normal revision cycle.

The Board on Geographic Names promulgates policies governing issues such as commemorative naming, derogatory names, and names in wilderness areas. Generally the most important policy is local use and acceptance. Please note that no natural feature (and certain manmade features) may be named for a living person. A potential honoree must have been deceased for at least five years, and must have had either a direct and long-term association with the feature or must have made notable civic contributions.

Upon receipt of a proposal, all interested parties will be asked to comment. The Board makes decisions only with recommendations from the local government, county government, the State Names Authority (in 50 States, the District of Columbia, and 2 Territories), and appropriate land management agencies. Only name proposals for natural features will be accepted.

A new name proposal may be submitted using the Domestic Geographic Names form ( PDF Version) mailed to U.S. Board on Geographic Names, U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 523, Reston, VA 20192-0523. Alternatively, the online version of the form may be used. Please read the Principles, Policies, and Procedures in the Main Menu to the left before submitting a proposal, or an information packet and forms will be mailed to you upon request. The entire process is free of charge, but will take approximately six months. For more information contact the GNIS Manager.

Tags: Maps, Coordinates, National Map, Photographs, Atlases, Features, Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)