US National Park Service Tagging: Natural Features

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Natural Features are a parks most important asset!

Sources of natural features can vary. USGS GNIS is one option, as well as the local parks collection of features.

Natural Features

National Park Service employees are only authorized to use the OFFICIAL natural feature name when publishing ANY mapping data for natural features located within a park. Official names are those that are recognized by the USGS BGN. This has created some lively discussion within the OSM community, many of whom feel that other names should be used. OSM mappers should note that: Consider a consumer of OSM data, stuck in park with an injury! If, when on the phone with E911 services, they communicate the wrong natural feature name information, the potential for delay of life-saving services is very real, and this scenario has occurred in parks due to erroneous GPS data. Therefore, NPS Natural Features should be tagged with "Name"

and "Official Name"

This allows government agency rendering of OSM Park Maps to keep with NPS policy for feaure names, yet allow OSM mappers to modify "common" or "aka" park feature names. However, the NPS prefers that road name and official name remain the same, as to minimize any potential hazardous situtions based on feature name mis-labelling.

Many people, especially those local to a park, are very passionate about mountain, river, and ridge names. Official names are maintained by the USGS GNIS board. Changing a name other than the official name could lead to a very sprited response!

Mountains, hills, peaks

Elevation is given in meters, and should be sourced as accurately as possible. For example, Great Smoky Mountains National Park sources its elevation data from Lidar and survey-grade GPS:

The only GNIS tag that should be kept is

[Example of a Mountain Peak]

Gaps, saddles

[Example of a Gap]


Ridges should be rendered as ways, to cartographically represent the location of a ridge

[Example of a Ridge]

National Park Service Tagging

[Main Page]