[Imports] Status and progress: NYS DEC Lands reimport

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Tue Jul 19 14:27:01 UTC 2016

On Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 8:25 AM, Greg Troxel <gdt at ir.bbn.com> wrote:
> Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com> writes:
>> On this particular issue I believe you should use different tagging.
>> Currently there is almost no use of access=permit
>> http://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/tags/access=permit
>> Typically if you require a permission for access it is "private" (maybe
>> something with "access:conditional" would also be appropriate:
>> http://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys/access%3Aconditional#values ), you
>> could still link the detailed specifiication with a similar tag, like
>> access:website=http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7815.html
>> (choosing from the most frequently used tags, maybe it could be
>> "source:access"?)
> It seems like the tagging schema should be improved.  As I see it
> there's a big difference between
>   private, and really there is no expectation that some random person
>   can easily/reasonably get permission or that it's reasonable to ask
>   a permit system, where it's controlled somehow, but really you can go
>   there after you follow the rules, and there's an expectation that
>   permits will be issued to those who ask
> The second case also sort of applies to backcountry in national parks,
> except technically you only need a permit for camping overnight.
> Perhaps you are saying that access=conditional has some established
> semantics that would capture this.

That was exactly my thought. The distinction is real, it's observable
in the field, and it's common in places that I visit.

New York has its permit system in place
mostly so that the infrastructure will be there if they have to impose
access quotas someday. For the Long Island pine barrens and the New
York City watershed lands, the permit can be obtained immediately,
free of charge, by entering your contact information on a web site and
then printing the access card and parking tag. The access cards are
good for several years, so you don't even need to do this for every

For the High Peaks Wilderness, it's even easier. They have permit tags
on carbon paper forms at the trailheads. You fill out the form, take
one copy with you and leave the other copy in the box. I left that
one 'access=yes', since a traveller doesn't need to plan in advance
for it. Moreover, I didn't have a good map of the zones of the High
Peaks Wilderness, and the permit system applies only in the eastern
zone. The boundary is indefinite, following the relatively
inaccessible ridge over Nye, Street, and MacNaughton Mountains.
In the unlikely event that I were to climb one of those from the west
(a much harder route), I'd probably grab a permit card at Heart Lake
or Keene Valley the day before.

It would not surprise me at all to learn that this 'self-issued'
permit system is a peculiarly American thing. It seems to be just the
sort of messy and free-wheeling system that Americans are fond of, but
doesn't quite fit OSM's model of the world. (OSM hass come around
quite nicely, but I can certainly recall a time when the European
cultural assumptions were fairly pervasive.)

I had investigated access:conditional, but the schema doesn't seem
appropriate. It appears to have a formal syntax that is devoted to
specifying restrictions for the use of a motor vehicle router. I see
that I could write
    access=private access:conditional="yes @ permit_holder"
but that's even rarer than 'access=permit' - taginfo shows only nine
uses of 'permit_holder' within 'access:conditional' in the whole of

I'm already rendering a map using 'access=permit'. I can easily change
the rendering to whatever tagging scheme is decided on. Nevertheless,
it's important to my application, so there has to be some sort of
distinction between 'private: keep out' and 'make sure you have your
access card in your backpack'. Incidentally, this argument is one that
I hate to use, because the last couple of times I mentioned that I
can't tag two things exactly alike and expect to render them
differently, I was accuesd of 'tagging for the renderer.' I think that
argument rather misses the point: things tagged alike cannot be
rendered differently, whatever renderer is in use.

I do wish that the discussion had happened before I imported the New
York City DEP watershed lands. At the time, I asked, on 'talk-us' and
'imports', how to deal with the situation, and someone suggested that
the little-used 'access=permit' might be appropriate. As it stands, I
now likely have another project to deal with revising that tagging, at
such time as we arrive at a consensus what the tagging should be.

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