United States/Public lands

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As 28% of the United States at the federal level are public lands[1], OSM must determine how best to tag these. While military areas are excluded, all other federal, state, county and municipal level public lands are currently included in the Scope of this WikiProject. An important distinction is between lands which offer human recreation as a significant activity (national parks, national wilderness where light-impact camping is allowed...) and lands which do not. However, there are many other "public lands" at all levels of government which may or may not be in the scope of this WikiProject. ("Human recreation" is simply the first dimension along which the project begins to explore and document). These include lands that house government offices, public hospitals, developmental centers, prisons, universities, colleges, schools, research facilities, military acadamies, space launch sites, some sewage treatment properties, etc. A complicating factor are 'multiple use' facilities (such as a University Nature Preserve or backcountry parcels owned by a College of Environmental Science and Forestry), as many are public lands which can offer recreation, but also have other purposes. More discussion is needed to refine the "Scope."

Except for actual National Parks, many (not all) public lands might be tagged boundary=protected_area over the longer term. (Though, Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management areas leased for gas and oil extraction, for example, aren't protected areas. These might be tagged landuse=industrial during the lease). As boundary=protected_area isn't fully rendered and boundary=national_park is, boundary=national_park and sometimes protect_class=* emerged on many of these areas; boundary=national_park should be removed (or changed to boundary=protected_area) unless the land is specifically a national or state park. Much public lands data have been imported, some are lower quality and tagging has been inconsistent. This WikiProject is an effort to harmonize these. There are many "broken (multi)polygons" (inconsistent, broken relations, bad members, wrong roles on members...) which may partly-accurately describe such lands, these need to be improved/corrected, preferably with tagging schemes documented here.

OSM has identified the "Existing 4" tags to use on park-like things, which often logically map well to public lands: leisure=park, leisure=nature_reserve, boundary=national_park, boundary=protected_area. A 5th might be landuse=recreation_ground, which sometimes, even according to its own wiki, conflates with leisure=park. (Of course, use landuse=recreation_ground when appropriate). These five (perhaps not so much leisure=park, although there are many such US public lands in Washington, District of Columbia) should form the core of what we specify here, though other possible tagging combinations emerge in this wiki. For example, as mentioned above, it is suggested that BLM land actively leased for oil or gas extraction be tagged landuse=industrial (and landuse=meadow on public land used for grazing).

Be aware of distinctions between boundary=protected_area and leisure=nature_reserve: the latter conveys a distinct component of more than simply "human recreation" (implied by leisure), it also includes simultaneous conservation of natural resources. Please see the leisure=park wiki for more examples of tags that can be used on non-park, yet park-like areas. The topics are somewhat complex with many overlapping semantics and simultaneous differently-held opinions. This contributes to difficulty moving forward on achieving wide consensus of tagging schemes here, though OSM does improve by extending this wiki (and tagging using its suggestions).

Scope of this WikiProject

Federal, state, county and municipal level public lands are included in the scope of this WikiProject. Ignore military areas (0.5% of US land) from this scope; military=* selects these data. While OSM acknowledges that military lands (including state militia, National Guard posts) are public lands, it excludes them from this domain as "already tagged otherwise."

The table at Tag:boundary=protected_area#Protect_classes_for_various_countries has an up-to-date United States row for assigning various protect_class=* values based on government-level and name of many kinds of public lands. While that row in the table is not exhaustive (and this wiki intends to reflect the correctness of those data), this wiki also intends to be more inclusive, perhaps eventually comprehensive for all US public lands and their tagging schemes.

Some lands managed by Non-Government Organizations (such as a local or regional Land Trust or a national-influence non-profit organization) may seem like public lands because they have public access (sometimes for leisure / recreation) but are not, in fact, "public lands" because of their ownership. This section is emerging to denote these.

In this wiki, the term "public land" is used to refer to any land owned (fee simple title) and managed by a government (federal, state, county, township, municipal, ward or neighborhood), regardless of its mode of acquisition or managing agency. It might or might not (this remains unclear) exclude lands administered by a federal agency under easements, leases, contracts, or other arrangements. This includes (along with much more) the usage of the phrase "public land" as it refers to lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management defined in 43 U.S.C. §1702(e).

There remains confusion whether boundary:type=* should be used. Possibly coined so that boundary=national_park could be used in conjunction with boundary:type=protected_area + protect_class=* without key collision (of boundary=*), this remains unclear, though one comment in the Discussion (talk) page discourages boundary:type=*.

Federal Public Lands

Several different US government Departments (Agriculture, Commerce, Interior..., via their Services, Administrations, Bureaus, etc.) manage federal public lands. These activities often overlap with the concept of "parks" as "park" is meant in US English as "a large area of land kept in its natural state for public recreational use."[1]. While some federal public lands are primarily for conservation of resources or even require minimal human interaction or disturbance (e.g. wilderness), many include human recreation as a primary or auxiliary activity. Yet others are leased for grazing, resource extraction or other uses. An initial crucial distinction might be to determine whether what OSM means by "protected" applies, as some public lands fail that test (for example, they are grazed or mined, not protected).

The creation of national parks and forest reserves laid the foundation for the current federal agencies whose primary purposes are managing federal lands — the BLM, USFS, USFWS, and NPS. These four agencies were created at different times, and their missions and purposes differ. The Department of Defense (DOD) is the fifth-largest land management agency, with lands consisting of military bases, training ranges and more. These five agencies together manage about 97% of all federal land. Numerous other federal agencies — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Post Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Energy and many more — administer the remaining additional federal lands.

At the federal level, the "tagging seeds" specified below do NOT (perfectly, presently) describe existing tagging, they are not necessarily how we do tag. Rather, they suggest an idealized version of how we should tag (prescriptive, not descriptive). Please contrast this with the state-level tables (below) which do exactly the opposite (state-level tables are descriptive of tagging).

Agriculture Department (USDA) National Forests (USFS), National Grasslands, Special Biological Areas

All national forest service data are public domain but not all regions are available online, info on getting GIS data for USDA forest boundaries and recreation sites can be found here: US Forest Service Data. Note that many USFS areas are open to public recreation. Adding an access=* tag is quite helpful.

Some USDA lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Research Natural Area" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=1a.

Some USDA lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Wilderness Area" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=1b.

The tag boundary=national_park should be removed from National Forests where it exists (as incorrect tagging).

Tag boundaries:

With the exception of changing to protection_title=National Grassland, use exactly this set of tags on National Grassland.

With the exception of changing to protection_title=Special Biological Area and protect_class=5, use exactly this set of tags on areas designated "Special Biological Area" by the United States Forest Service (USFS).

With the exception of changing to protection_title=Wild, Scenic & Recreation River and protect_class=5, use exactly this set of tags on USFS's 'Wild, Scenic & Recreation River."

Commerce Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Areas

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Ocean Service administers the National Marine Sanctuaries, "Protecting Important Marine Ecosystems Around the Nation." The goal of the sanctuary system is to protect important natural and cultural places, while still allowing people to enjoy and use the ocean. In total, NOAA manages thirteen national marine sanctuaries and co-manages two marine national monuments.

Tag boundaries:

except on the two extant marine national monuments, where protect_class=3 and protection_title=Marine National Monument are correct tags. Because they are co-managed, use a semicolon to separate and add the additional agency in the operator=* key.

Interior Department, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Areas

These public lands are owned by the federal government, but have a wide variety of uses. They may be "open access," allowing the public to use the lands in a safe and legal manner, including recreation. They may be under lease to a private party, who uses them for a defined purpose for the term of the lease, giving them effective operator status on them (for grazing, resource extraction, etc.). In the former case (open access), tag with an appropriate access=* tag. In the latter, (leased), operator=* and/or landuse=* (if appropriate) tags are important. It may be correct for leisure=park to be applied instead of boundary=protected_area and protect_class=*, if BLM-owned/managed land otherwise meets the definition of leisure=park (no such examples are known, but they are imagined to be possible).

Some BLM lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Ecological Preserve or Natural Area" or "Research Natural Area" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=1a.

Some BLM lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Wilderness Area" or "Wilderness Study Area" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=1b.

Some BLM lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Area of Critical Environmental Concern" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=5.

Tag boundaries:

Interior Department, National Park Service (NPS) National Parks

Info on getting GIS data for park boundaries and recreation sites can be found here: US National Park Service Data. In July, 2019, it was reported that there are 418 National Park sites in the USA (NPS only, not counting any State Parks which may be tagged boundary=national_park).

Some NPS lands are distinctly assigned a category of "Wilderness" and must be tagged boundary=protected_area + protect_class=1b.

Tag boundaries:

It is important to note that boundary=national_park is also used on state parks, states being as sovereign as the federal government for purposes of declaring a park a park. By way of explanation, given American English's wide definition of park, many USA-based OSM contributors have widely applied this tag, especially as it renders (in Carto as a green boundary line).

Interior Department, National Park Service (NPS) National Monuments

The tag boundary=national_park should be removed from National Monuments where it exists (as incorrect tagging).

Tag boundaries:

Check the specific monument for the operator, most are National Park Service (Interior) or US Forest Service (Agriculture).

A national preserve is a type of NPS protected area of the USA designated by Congress that has characteristics normally associated with national parks but where certain natural resource-extractive activities such as fishing, hunting, mining, and oil/gas exploration and extraction are permitted. With the exception changing to protection_title=National Preserve and protect_class=5 tags, this set of tags is also appropriate for national preserves.

With the exception of changing to a correct protection_title=* tag, this set of tags is also appropriate for public lands known as "Audubon Society Preserve," "Audubon Society Sanctuary" or "State Marine Park." In the latter case, use ownership=state, in the first two cases, use ownership=national_conservation_organization.

Interior Department, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Areas

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service administers both wilderness areas (see Wilderness section) and the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). For NWRS,

Tag boundaries:

With the exception of changing to protection_title=Waterfowl Production Area and protect_class=6, use exactly this set of tags on Waterfowl Production Areas.

Wilderness Areas

Wilderness Areas at the federal level encompass the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). These areas are managed by four federal land management agencies, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. As of 2016, these make up about 4.5% of the area of the United States. Please tag accurately and carefully, adding the proper agency with owner=*.

A project to import U.S. wilderness areas from Wilderness.net was, and may still be going on here: Wilderness.net.

Tag boundaries:

  • boundary=protected_area
  • protect_class=1b
  • leisure=nature_reserve Note: this seems redundant with the above two tags, but this tag is found on wilderness areas, perhaps because it renders. An important consideration if this tag is included on wilderness is that human leisure activity / recreation (hiking / backpacking, perhaps resource gathering — acorn harvesting, hunting / trapping with proper permits, downed-wood gathering for campfires if permitted — perhaps light-use camping) is likely allowed, hence the usage of this tag.
  • ownership=national

Other Federal Areas

One semantic that is a bit odd are non-profit-owned, quasi-federally-managed lands, like "Nature Conservancy Fee Land." These might be tagged:

Please continue to offer / discuss potentially more-clear tagging schemes, as this category of US Public Lands is an edge case in this WikiProject. It may be appropriate to move these entities to WikiProject_United_States_Public_Lands#Public_Lands_Managed_by_Non-Government_Organizations.

There are other categories of federal lands not yet categorized in this wiki. Feel free to extend this (federal) section (using examples above) to more fully complete this tagging scheme so it harmonizes definitions of eventually all types of federal lands with consistent OSM tagging conventions achieved with wide OSM consensus. Easy, right?!

State Public Lands

It is important to note that boundary=national_park is also used on state parks, states being as sovereign as the federal government for purposes of declaring a park a park. So, for a "State Park,"

Tag boundaries:

Similar entities ("state beach," "state desert...") might also receive the boundary=national_park, boundary=protected_area and protect_class=2 tags, but the protection_title=* should have a value corresponding to the state entity's title. However, there are state wilderness areas which likely should get tagging nearly identical to national wilderness areas, as well as state forests and state monuments which also mimic national-level tagging. A good rule of thumb (as of 2019) is that how to tag a national park (forest, wilderness, monument...) largely guides how also to tag state park (forest, wilderness, monument...) boundaries.

Tag:boundary=protected_area#Protect_classes_for_various_countries says a "State Marine Reserve" (administered by a state-level Parks Department) is tagged the same as above, with the exception of protection_title=State Marine Reserve and name=*.

For a "State Marine Park," see the "Interior Department, National Park Service (NPS) National Monuments" section (and tag appropriately, e.g. ownership=state).

For "State Habitat Area," "State Nature Preserve," "State Waterfowl Production Area," "State Wildlife Management Area," "State Marine Conservation Area," "State Marine Recreational Management Area," see the "Agriculture Department...Special Biological Areas" section (and tag appropriately, e.g. ownership=state).

For "State Conservation Area," "State Conservation Park," "State Ecological Reserve," "State Heritage Preserve," "State Managed Conservation Easements," "State Natural Area" and "State Wild and/or Scenic River" start tagging boundaries with:

and add

with appropriate values.

Again, "State Park" is sometimes tagged with boundary=national_park or as above (or similar). As of 2019, both tagging styles are extant in the USA on "State Parks," though inconsistently. It may be illustrative to inventory all 50 states' 2019 tagging practices (actual OSM data) as an initial snapshot in this WikiProject, this is a significant effort to complete well, yet is very worthy to improve OSM. New York (state) has relevant recent (mid-2018) data harvesting and maintenance (into 2019) updates at NYS_DEC_Lands. Ahead are state data tables showing tagging in use by protect_class=* (for protected_area=*) and by "principal" tag (boundary=*, landuse=*, leisure=*, tourism=*). These tables describe existing tagging, how we do tag, not how we should tag (descriptive, not prescriptive). Please add new states into the table as rows in similar fashion. (This may include improving tagging in your state as you do so, that is partly the goal of this WikiProject).

State public land areas by class of protection
State protect_class=*
1a 1b 2 3 4 5 6 7 21 22
California (none) (all but 1 of) State Wildernesses,

all are subunits of / within State Parks,
(another polygon enclosed by the State Park is tagged 1b)

(some) State Parks(?)

State Marine Reserves

State Historical Monuments

State Marine Park

State Cultural Preserve/Reserve
(or, might be 5, 6 or 22)

State Natural Reserve

Wildlife Areas, CDFW •

Ecological Reserves, CDFW •

Undesignated lands, CDFW •

Public access lands, CDFW •

State Fish Hatcheries, CDFW •

Miscellaneous lands, CDFW •

(possibly others; in early stage categorization / enumeration)

(some) State Parks

(some) County Parks

(some) Regional Open Space Preserves

Desert Land Trust

Ecological Reserve

Tidelands Public Access

(this is messy; entities such as
(p)reserves wrongly have this value;
in early stage categorization / enumeration)

State Forest

Demonstration State Forest

State Wildlife Area

State Marine Conservation Area

State Marine Recreational Management Area

State Seashore

State Nature Preserve

(many or most of these seem tagged with wrong values)

Looking for state-level museum-containing,
education-oriented, maybe overlaps with historical. Filoli?

(some) State Parks State Historic Park / Historic State Park (or Site)

Filoli Center should this have ownership=state added?

California has some question marks, placeholders and may be missing named categories; rough structure now (2019-Q3).
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), through its seven regional divisions, manages more than 700 protected areas statewide, totaling 1,177,180 acres (4,763.9 km2). They are broadly categorized as:

110 Wildlife Areas, designed to give the public easier access to wildlife while preserving habitats, 135 Ecological Reserves, which protect rare terrestrial and ocean species and habitats, 319 undesignated lands, 108 public access lands, 21 Fish Hatcheries (not five?) and 37 miscellaneous lands.

Connecticut (none) (none) Bluff Point Coastal Reserve (none) (none) (none) State Forest (1) (none) (none) (none)
Bluff Point Coastal Reserve is tagged boundary=national_park protect_class=2 leisure=nature_reserve. Paugusett State Forest is tagged boundary=protected_area protect_class=6. No other protected area tagging is observed as of 2019-06-27.
New York (none) Wilderness Area

Wild Forest

Primitive Area

Canoe Area


Primitive Bicycle Corridor

Forest Preserve Detached Parcel

Adirondack Park

Catskill Park

Wildlife Management Area

Tidal Wetland

Freshwater Wetland

Natural Resource Area

State Unique Area

State Scenic Resource

State Forest [Environmental] Education Center State Campground

(some) State Parks

State Canal Park

Multiple Use Area

Waterway Access Area

Fishing Access Area


Palisades Interstate Park

State Historic Site
The Adirondack and Catskill Parks are sui generis entities that are given perpetual protection in the New York State Constitution. They are run as a public-private partnership. About half the land in the parks belongs to the State and is in one of these categories. The other half is in private hands and its development is closely regulated. The principal industries in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks are tourism, forestry, agriculture and mining. Uniquely in New York State, these two are tagged with boundary=national_park.

The 'Unclassified' category refers to Forest Preserve lands for which no State Land Master Plan has yet been established. All of the current Unclassified parcels are public-access and are de facto administered as Wild Forest.

New York also has classifications of 'Intensive Use Area', 'Administrative Area', 'Historic Area', 'Special Use Area', and 'Land Access' that are tagged on a case-by case basis.

The special classification of 'Forest Preserve Lands Under Water' is reserved to mark the portions of lake bottoms that are part of the Forest Preserve when part of the lake shore is private land. It is not mapped in OpenStreetMap.

The New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal corporation both maintain public-access recreational lands that adjoin the dams, reservoirs and canals, They are mapped case by case.

The special classification of 'Travel Corridor' is a classification of exclusion - travel corridors are not part of the Wilderness or Wild Forest that they traverse. They are not mapped other than by excluding them from the multipolygons of the enclosing feature.

Certain parks in the Hudson Valley are administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, a joint agency with the State of New Jersey.

State public land areas by "principal" tag (boundary, landuse, leisure, tourism)
State boundary=national_park landuse=forest landuse=recreation_ground or
leisure=nature_reserve leisure=park tourism=camp_site tourism=museum landuse=aquaculture
California There are 9 national parks
(strictly, not state public lands)
in California: Channel Islands,
Death Valley, Joshua Tree,
Kings Canyon, Lassen, Pinnacles,
Redwood, Sequoia and Yosemite,
enumerated here for "completeness"

(some) State Parks

Demonstration State Forest

State Forest

State Recreation Area

State Vehicular Recreation Areas
("Off-Highway Motor Vehicle" OHMV Parks)

(at least one) SNO-PARKs†

State Wilderness

State Reserve

State Wildlife Area

State Cultural Preserve

State Natural Reserve

State Marine Reserve

(some) State Parks (?)

(some) State Parks (?)

(There are believed to be 110 to 120 California State Parks, research continues)

State Historic Parks

(some) State Historic Sites (?)

Not applicable (found in California,
sometimes on public lands,
sometimes on private property)
(all?) State Historic Sites
State Fish Hatchery (total of 5,
is this Dept. of State Parks total?
There are said to be 21 CDFW • hatcheries, too)
California has some question marks, placeholders and may be missing named categories; rough structure now (2019-Q3). †The SNO-PARK program is coordinated and administered by the OHMVR Division of California State Parks, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol, and various community organizations. Through this collaborative effort, winter recreation opportunities are provided at 19 SNO-PARK sites along the Sierra Nevada. Distinctive brown signs located along highways identify the SNO-PARKs. Recreational activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and "snow play" (sledding, tobogganing).
Connecticut Bluff Point Coastal Reserve Salt Rock Campground Flood Control (3)

Natural Area Preserve (1)

State Forest (9)

State Park (37+5)

State Park Scenic Reserve (26+1)

State Park Trail (5)

Water Access (1)

Wildlife Area (7)

Wildlife Sanctuary (2)

Historic Preserve (1)

State Forest (2)

State Park (25+5)

State Park Scenic Reserve (5+1)

State Park Trail (2)

Water Access (1)

Wildlife Area (1?)

As of 2019-06-27, Connecticut's mapping of state facilities appears to follow little discernible pattern with respect to protection title. None of the five Fish Hatcheries is mapped. Only three of the many Flood Control areas (which are public-access recreation lands when not flooded) are mapped. One Historic Preserve is not mapped, Eight Natural Area Preserves are not mapped; one is a leisure=nature_reserve and one (Bluff Point Coastal Reserve) is mapped on separate polygons (not quite aligned) as leisure=nature_reserve, boundary=national_park and leisure=park. 21 State Forests are unmapped; nine are leisure=nature_reserve, two are leisure=park, one (which appears to be a campground) is leisure=recreation_ground, and one has protected area tagging without a principal land use indicated. State Parks are about evenly divided between leisure=nature_reserve and leisure=park; four remain unmapped and one is tagged landuse=winter_sports. Three State Park Scenic Reserves remain unmapped. There are dozens of Water Access and Wildlife Area that remain unmapped. None of the Other areas is mapped; these are a mixed bag for which anything from office=government to boundary=aboriginal_lands would be appropriate.
New York Adirondack Park

Catskill Park

Demonstration Forest

State Forest

Ski Area

Winter Recreation Center

Wilderness Area

Wild Forest

Primitive Area

Canoe Area


Primitive Bicycle Corridor

Forest Preserve Detached Parcel

Wildlife Management Area

Tidal Wetland

Freshwater Wetland

Natural Resource Area

State Unique Area

State Scenic Resource

State Forest

(some) State Parks

Multiple Use Area

(some) Waterway Access Area

(some) State Parks

(some) State Historic Sites


State Campground (most) State Historic Sites State Fish Hatchery
Other principal land use tags in common use for New York State conservation and recreational facilities - and applied where appropriate irrespective of the land classification include

landuse=brownfield, landuse=industrial (the DEC radio facilities, certain Administrative areas such as park maintenance depots), landuse=plant_nursery, leisure=fishing (Fishing Access Area, some Waterway Access Areas), leisure=golf_course, leisure=marina, and office=government (certain Administrative areas)

Some 'State Parks' in New York are large areas of undeveloped land with few or no 'front country' facilities; others are dedicated golf courses, marinas, or recreation grounds. These facilities are tagged as nature reserves, golf courses, marinas, recreation grounds; other state parks are tagged leisure=park.

County Public Lands

County parks (and their ilk, like county beaches, where these exist) are more difficult to definitively tag, as newer consensus has yet to fully emerge. This is as the definition of leisure=park is now (2019) more narrowly construed to mean smaller "urban" parks (municipal, in/around a "settlement"), not more rural (sometimes larger) county parks and similar recreational areas. A major contributing factor to this is American English usage of "park." (There is a DIFFERENT usage of "park" in American English, used in western states, especially Colorado, where "park" means "a broad, flat, mostly open area in a mountainous region" — this is not what is meant here by "park"). OSM's leisure=park definition does not intersect well with what hundreds of millions of Americans call "parks" (especially "county parks"). This remains challenging in OSM in the USA, as many county parks were and are tagged with leisure=park and some (many?) feel these are often quite different from "human-sculptured, urban/municipal" parks, putting them at odds with the (newer, 2019) wiki definition of leisure=park.

As counties are "political divisions of states" there is an argument to be made that boundary=national_park, because it is extended to state-level, can be further extended to the county level. However, the worldwide OSM community would likely not applaud the USA having tens of thousands of national_park boundaries, so it does seem we need to develop a better tagging scheme for county-level parks, beaches, etc. Emerging is to tag boundaries:

Some counties support facilities with classifications such as 'County Forest', 'County Nature Preserve', and 'County Wildlife Sanctuary'. These should be tagged appropriately with landuse=forest or leisure=nature_reserve and protect_class=6, protect_class=5, protect_class=4 respectively.

Municipal Public Lands

The tags identified for county public lands can also be applied to "City Park," "City Preserve," City Natural Area," and so on. Well, nearly so, change protection_title=*, ownership=* and operator=* to obvious values, e.g. "City...," ownership=municipal and "City of ...". It is correct to use the quite-specific tag of leisure=park on city parks.

There are also many other kinds of public lands at the municipal level which do not overlap with human leisure / recreation. These include water treatment plants, parking garages, landfills/recycling centers, industrial areas (e.g. power co-generation), water wells, city halls/offices and more. There are specific tags for all of these. This WikiProject can facilitate better tagging of these areas, especially by suggesting the inclusion of tags ownership=municipal and operator=City of Name of City. Many of these lands have specific access, for example, a landfill or city offices otherwise closed to the public benefit from tagging with opening_hours=* and some industrial areas (sewage treatment...) may be access=no, except for school tours (for example). Please tag appropriately with as much data as are known.

New York City has extensive land outside the city limits that it owns in fee, for the purpose of keeping it undeveloped to protect the city's water supply (which is brought in from the Catskill Mountains and the Croton Valley by a system of hundreds of km of aqueducts, with minimal treatment). Over 500 km² of this land is open for public recreation in about four hundred areas. These areas are tagged leisure=nature_reserve, boundary=protected_area, protect_class=12, protection_object=water, protection_title=Watershed Recreation Unit, operator=New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply The related law is complex, founded in a provision of the state constitution:[2]

The legislature may by general laws provide for the use of not exceeding three per centum of [Forest Preserve] lands for the construction and maintenance of reservoirs for municipal water supply, and for the canals of the state.

The related law thought to be of most relevance to map users, and therefore included in the related_law=* tag, is the "NYCDEP Rules for the Recreational Use of Watershed Lands and Waters".[3]

The boundaries of the watershed recreation areas were brought in by an import in June of 2016 and regularly updated.

Public Lands Managed by Non-Government Organizations

Some areas have public-access lands that are managed by organizations other than governments. Frequently, governments recognize these with titles such as "Conservancy Easement," "Conservation/Natural Area," "Local Land Trust Easement," and "Local Land Trust Preserve."

National or multi-state organizations that are known to maintain such properties include (not an exhaustive list, and presented in no particular order): the Nature Conservancy, the National Audubon Society, the Open Space Institute, Ducks Unlimited, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. There are also hundreds if not thousands of private conservancies maintaining public-access facilities.

Once again, it appears that the tagging can mirror that on county and municipal facilities, with appropriate changes to protection_title=*, ownership=* and operator=*.

boundary=protected_area should not be used for these areas unless the governing law or policy is known. For example the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, New York, has no conservation easements (all of its land is held in fee simple) and is not accredited as a land trust (although that is the corporate purpose on its certificate of incorporation). While it is now investigating the possibility of pursuing these approaches to secure additional protection for its land, in the past it did not because its management jealously guarded its independence.

See also

  • leisure=park, a tag for "urban" (municipal) parks, not so much on larger, more rural "parks" (as "park" is meant in American English), where other possible tagging schemes for such areas are listed,
  • park:type=*, an older (though still useful as a sort of "crutch") tagging style used a lot in California and elsewhere which is beginning to be deprecated in favor of this wiki's flavors of (national, state...) tagging,
  • park_level=*, an idea in park:type=* which mimics the same value as admin_level=* to convey the level of government of the park's administration (this could facilitate rendering, similar to admin_level=*); not wiki documented, more like a concept / talking point.


  1. Apple MacOS X Mojave (US English) Dictionary, "park," (noun) Definition 1 (US variant)
  2. New York State Constitution, Article XIV, section 2, as amended 1953. [2]
  3. New York City Department of Environmental Protection regulations, chapter 16: "Rules for the Recreational Use of Watershed Lands and Waters." [3]