Wisconsin Geographic Names Council
Please be aware this Council currently meets once per year in January and new proposals
need to be submitted by October 1st to be added to the upcoming annual review list.
Submitting a Geographic Name Proposal
Before you begin filling out a naming proposal, be sure to review the Wisconsin Geographic Names Council (WGNC) and United States Board on
Geographic Names (BGN) naming policies.
The geographic naming process starts with a proposal to name an unnamed geographic feature or change the name of a named geographic feature, such as a lake, stream, island, hill etc. Anyone can submit a naming proposal to the WGNC by filling out the proposal form found on the right hand side of this page. Along with your basic contact information, the proposal form asks you to fill in information about the feature you want to name, why you want to name or change the name of the feature, and asks why you picked the name you are proposing.
To help expedite the proposal and decision making process you may submit additional information with the proposal form that supports the name or name change.
This can include but is not limited to: maps, historic documents, land ownership records, publications, news articles, letters, photographs, and/or other information that provides evidence to support the reasons for your name proposal.
- Once your proposal is complete, mail it to:
- State of Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources
Geographic Names Council
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
The WGNC Administrator will then process your proposal and prepare it for the upcoming meeting.
What Happens After I submit a proposal to the WGNC?
The WGNC is part of a larger national naming process so officially naming a feature can take a long time.
Proposals are received throughout the year and are processed and reviewed in the order they are submitted. In the fall WGNC will begin gathering input from local and county governments giving them at least 60 days to hold town and county meetings and respond with an opinion.
After local governments review the proposal, the WGNC will then meet and review the proposal along with any recommendations provided by the local municipality and county. If the WGNC feels there is enough evidence to make a decision they will decide if the name is approved, approved with conditions, or denied.
Because WGNC is part of a larger national naming process, decisions made by the WGNC in January are pending until final review by the United States Bureau on Geographic Names (BGN). The WGNC forwards all approved name proposals to the BGN. BGN reviews name proposals for all 50 states and it can take several months before our proposal makes it to their active review list. If BGN approves the name it is now official at both the state and national level. If there is disagreement between the WGNC and BGN, the proposal may go through additional reviews before a final decision is rendered by the WGNC and BGN.