The North Carolina Board on Geographic Names (NCBGN) and the United States Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) work together to develop official names that are required-use on federal products and are adopted by other non-federal organizations for use in mapping projects and databases. The database that results through this process is known as the Geographic Names Information System, or GNIS. GNIS is a searchable database and is acknowledged by the GICC as the official North Carolina names repository.
Many features in North Carolina, especially streams, are unnamed. The NCBGN and the USBGN welcome suggestions that can be advanced through the two-year process to adopt and record a feature name. Locally-accepted names are in the GNIS since the process involves input from people who live in that community.
Requesting a Name Change
Citizens may submit a request to change the name of a geographic feature in North Carolina to Dr. Tyrel Moore, Chair of the NCBGN. NCBGN does NOT handle street or road names. The proposal may be submitted by email. Please identify the feature and its precise location, the proposed feature name and any other relevant information. Include a justification for changing the feature's name. The NCBGN will review the name-change proposal and seek input from appropriate local and state government agencies to establish accepted usage and support for the proposed feature name. The NCBGN will also seek input from the US Board on Geographic Names to ensure compliance with national requirements and policies. The NCBGN will submit a recommendation for the name change to the NC Statewide Mapping Advisory Committee (SMAC), which then considers the NCBGN recommendation. The NCBGN Chair will forward the SMAC decision to the USBGN for final approval and inclusion in the Geographic Names Information System. Approval is subject to the decision of the USBGN.
On May 4, 2004, the GICC adopted Procedures for Changing Offensive or Insulting Geographic Place-names to guide the work of the NC BGN.
The Charter for the NC Board on Geographic Names describes the purpose and membership.
Staff support is provided by David Giordano (919.754.6585).