How can I name an unnamed natural feature?

Proposals to name an unnamed natural feature can be submitted to the Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The BGN is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government, and promulgates policies governing issues such as commemorative naming, derogatory names, and names in wilderness areas. 

Please note that no natural feature (and certain manmade features) can 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.

Generally, the most important policy regarding names is local use and acceptance. Upon receipt of a proposal, all interested parties will be asked to comment. The BGN makes decisions only after receiving recommendations from the local government, county government, the State Names Authority, and appropriate land management agencies. Only name proposals for natural features will be accepted.

Submit new name proposals by printing and completing the Domestic Geographic Names form and mailing it to:

U.S. Board on Geographic Names
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive MS 523
Reston, VA 20192-0523 

Please read the Principles, Policies, and Procedures before submitting a proposal. An information packet and forms can be mailed upon request. The entire process is free of charge, but will take approximately six months. 

For more information, send an email to BGNEXEC@usgs.gov or see the BGN's "How Do I?"

 

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Does the Geographic Names Information System Database contain entries for obsolete names and historical geographic features that no longer exist?

Yes, The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) actively seeks names of features that no longer exist. The term "historical" as used in the GNIS specifically means that the feature no longer exists on the landscape. An abandoned ghost town, for example, still exists so it is not historical. Historical features have no reference to age, size,...

How can I propose a name change for a natural feature?

Proposals to change the name of a natural feature can be submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names . There must, however, be a compelling reason to change it. The Board is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government and discourages name changes unless necessary. Further, changing a name merely to...

How do I report an error in the Geographic Names Information System Database?

Please report possible errors to the Geographic Names Information System Manager at BGNEXEC@usgs.gov . The Names data experts will investigate and validate the data, enter appropriate corrections where needed, and advise you of the results. Learn more: U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Principles, Policies, and Procedures

How can I acquire or download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data?

Download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data using the U.S. Board on Geographic Names website . Query the database for official geographic feature names, their location attributes, variant names, and other data. Display, print, and download up to 2,000 records from a query. GNIS data can also be downloaded via the National Map Viewer...

What is the most common city/town name in the United States?

There are no official definitions of city, town, village, hamlet, neighborhood, etc. All named entities with human habitation are classified as Populated Place, including incorporated places (20 percent of the Nation's communities), unincorporated places (the majority), housing developments not yet incorporated, and neighborhoods within...

What is the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)?

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) was developed by the U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN), which maintains cooperative working relationships with state names authorities to standardize geographic names. GNIS contains information about the official names for places, features, and...
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Date published: August 27, 2019

New names at Newberry drawn from CalVO geologist's mapping

In June 2019, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved twenty-five new formal geographic names at Newberry Volcano in central Oregon. The names were proposed by Julie Donnelly-Nolan, a Research Geologist with the Volcano Science Center of the USGS in Menlo Park, CA.

Date published: August 12, 2016

Highest Point East of Rockies Gets New Name

Black Elk Peak replaces Harney Peak in federal records

Date published: September 1, 2015

Old Name Officially Returns to Nation's Highest Peak

The story of America is told by the names on the land. When you hear names like Kentucky and Kennesaw, Klamath and Kodiak, your mind immediately starts to turn over all manner of associated thoughts of what you may have experienced or learned or even what you may imagine about that place.

Date published: February 28, 2014

The National Map and National Atlas Merge

During this year, National Atlas of the United States and The National Map will transition into a combined single source for geospatial and cartographic information. This transformation is projected to streamline access to maps, data and information from the USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP). 

Filter Total Items: 9
Dellenbaugh Butte along Green River
June 25, 2019

Dellenbaugh Butte along Green River

At about Mile 102 you can see Dellenbaugh Butte, which is also known as The Anvil, or Inkwell Butte. Powell camped here July 14, 1869. The majority of the butte is composed of the Summerville Formation.
New Monitoring Instruments at Mount Rainier Have Their Roots in HVO...
August 8, 2016

New Monitoring Tools at Mount Rainier Have Roots in HVO's History

Mount Rainier, Washington, as seen on flight to Mount St. Helens. View is from the south. USGS Photograph taken on December 28, 2004, by Jim Vallance and Stephanie Konfal.

Waterfall and hanging gardens in Grand Canyon
December 31, 2014

Waterfall and hanging gardens in Grand Canyon

Waterfall and hanging gardens in Grand CanyonWaterfall and hanging gardens in Grand Canyon

This is a photo of late winter snow covering the landscape near Fajada Butte at Chaco Canyon.
July 8, 2007

Chaco Culture - landscape near Fajada Butte

Late winter snow covers the landscape near Fajada Butte at Chaco Canyon.

Attribution: Science Support
Person looking extremely small as they stand under a giant sandstone arch
August 7, 2003

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

This view is of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah. Most of the arches and famous landscape features in the park occur in the Entrada Sandstone.

Image: Delicate Arch
May 31, 2003

Delicate Arch

The world-famous Delicate Arch was formed by the movement of underground salt beds beneath overlying sandstone, in concert with surface events including water, ice, and erosion, which washed away or broke off the sandstone to create the arches and fins found throughout Arches National Park.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Detail of quadrangle map showing the location of the Lamb Spring Site south of Denver, Colorado
December 31, 1953

Location of the Lamb Spring Site, south of Denver, Colorado

Detail of quadrangle map showing the location of the Lamb Spring Site south of Denver, Colorado

Tonkin Spring near Eureka, Nevada

Tonkin Spring near Eureka, Nevada

Tonkin Spring near Eureka, Nevada.