Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Naming Geographic Features

Question: How can I get a name assigned to a glacier in the United States?

Answer: Anyone may propose a name, or name change, to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) for geographic features in the United States. The BGN is (quoting from its web site) a Federal body established to "maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government." BGN offers a web form and brief instructions for people who’d like to propose names at http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/name_form.htm. The Principles, Policies and Procedures that BGN uses in considering proposed names are published at http://geonames.usgs.gov/docs/pro_pol_pro.pdf; it would be prudent to review this document before submitting a proposal. You can learn more about the Board on Geographic Names and find information about naming geographic features outside of the United States from BGN’s web site, at http://geonames.usgs.gov/index.html.

States typically also have boards or programs established to consider names for geographic features. In Alaska, the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Office of History and Archeology, operates a Geographic Names Program. You can find more information about the Program, and download an application to propose a name for a geographic feature in Alaska, at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/oha/designations/geonames.htm. The Alaska Historical Commission, within the Office of History and Archeology, reviews applications and sends its recommendations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for final decision.

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