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 correct or re-establish historical usage is not in and of itself a reason to change a name.

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 Board only makes decisions with 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.

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.

Submit proposals for name changes 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

For more information, send an email to BGNEXEC@usgs.gov.

Learn more: U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Principles, Policies, and Procedures

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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.

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I will never forget the first time I saw Denali. Even from Anchorage, over 100 miles away, I could see a massive mound of white
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Denali

Mount McKinley landscape

Mount McKinley landscape

At 20,320 feet, Mount McKinley is North America’s highest peak. (Photo courtesy of Todd Paris, UAF).