Wisconsin Geographic Names Council
Please be aware this Council currently meets once a year in January and new proposals must be submitted by October 1st to be added to the upcoming annual review list.
Before you begin filling out a Geographic Name 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 to change the name of a named geographic feature, such as a lake, stream, island, hill, etc. Anyone may submit a naming proposal to the WGNC by filling out the Geographic Name Proposal found on the right-hand side of this page.
Submitting a Geographic Name Proposal
Along with your basic contact information, the proposal form asks you to fill in information about the feature. To help expedite the proposal and decision-making process, please consider providing supplemental information that supports the name or name change.
Such information can include, but is not limited to:
- Geographic Name Proposal (Form 2200-124 (R 7/16))*
- Historical Documents
- Land Ownership Records
- News articles
- Restoration Projects
- Local Support
- Any additional, compelling information
* Indicates a required document.
Once your proposal is complete, please email or mail it to:
**Preferred method is email.**
- Email: DNRLakeb@wisconsin.gov
- Mailing Address:
- State of Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources
Geographic Names Council
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
What happens after I submit a proposal to the WGNC?
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. This allows 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 they will decide if the name is approved, approved with conditions, or denied.
WGNC is part of a larger national naming process called United States Bureau on Geographic Names (BGN). Decisions made by the WGNC in January are pending until final review by the BGN. The WGNC forwards all approved name proposals to the BGN. The BGN then reviews the name proposals for all 50 states. It may take several months before proposals make it to the active review list. If BGN approves the name, it is then 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.
Visit BGN Website: https://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic [exit DNR]