[Tagging] State parks and state forests: specific tagging question, general mapping philosophy

Warin 61sundowner at gmail.com
Tue Jul 26 23:40:54 UTC 2016

On 7/27/2016 5:11 AM, Kevin Kenny wrote:
> The immediate question: I have the boundary multipolygon for a large 
> state park. The park has several stretches of waterfront. In some 
> places the boundary of the park follows the high tide line. In others, 
> it's set back from the shore (and the waterfront may have another 
> owner). And in other cases the boundary extends far offshore (which 
> may have implications for boaters). How best to divide and tag it so 
> that the park exists as a unified entity, but does not result in 
> rendering land or trees in the water?
> ----
> Now from some gratuitous ranting, because I'm getting discouraged:

:-)You are not alone! My ideas below, feel free to disagree.
> My last question here, regarding how to tag public lands for which 
> permission is required (but routinely granted) got answers that left 
> me in a deeper state of confusion. The general consensus seemed to be 
> "there is no difference between those and private lands other than the 
> personality of the landowner, and they therefore must be tagged alike: 
> access=private". That answer did not satisfy - I want a map that 
> renders those cases differently, and things tagged alike cannot be 
> rendered differently." Moreover, I don't hold out much hope that a 
> formal proposal, wikified and voted, would end any differently; the 
> voters are mostly on this list. (Also, nobody answered my question 
> about how to initiate such a proposal.) I'm leaving Long Island 
> mistagged with "access=yes" and not touching the "access=permit" on 
> the New York City watershed parcels that I imported a few months ago 
> (without a peep on "imports" about that detail of the proposal).
> So that particular aspect of the project is "on hold" for now.
If you want finer detail then consider adding a sub tag e.g.
private= ... umm just how would you distinguish between a wilderness are 
where access permission is very restrictive and native lands where 
access is just a paper application that is easy to get and native lands 
where permission takes, say, 3 months of processing? You would need to 
consider what values to have for the 'private' key.  Once you do it and 
have some practicae at it .. add an OSM wiki page on it describing what 
it is so others know. I have a few wiki pages to add .. 
sport=hammer_throw, discus_throw, long_jump etc.

> I'm also trying hard not to resurrect the argument about "forests." 
> The general consensus is that there simply is no way to tag the case, 
> important in the US, of "a tract of land legally managed for wild-land 
> resource production (wood and other products)." In this community, 
> that idea simply cannot be separated from "land covered with trees". 
> There are also other confusing ideas such as a "natural wood". The 
> last, it appears, means either also "covered with trees" or else 
> "virgin stands of old-growth forest", and also appears to connote 
> "unmanaged" - which is a contradiction, since our few remaining tracts 
> of wilderness are managed intensively to keep them that way. I've come 
> to accept that any correct tagging will not render,

I and others take this view

natural=wood ... any area covered by trees ('natural' or not, managed or 
landuse=forest .. any area of trees used to produce wood products - 
lumber, sap, oils etc.
> and most nearly correct taggings will suffer from rendering gaffes 
> like trees in water. (The concept of "a pond in the forest" apparently 
> is sufficiently foreign that the phrase, on this forum, is nonsensical 
> to the point of being meaningless: "surely you mean a pond SURROUNDED 
> BY the forest?") So I do the best I can to tell as few lies as 
> possible while still choosing a tagging that will be visible on the 
> renderer, recalling that "boundary=protected_area" does not render. I 
> don't expect, given the amount of progress toward rendering it in the 
> last two or three years, that I'm going to see rendering of protected 
> areas on any maps I don't produce.

Lets concentrate on the tagging - rendering is a separate issue with 
many choices.

A pond/lake in a forest - don't tag the water area with an area of trees.
Don't confuse an administrate area (state park) with land cover areas 
... these are separate features and should have their own separate OSM 
existence - and those OSM existences should be independent.
> That's fine, I can live with doing my own rendering, although it 
> increasingly means that I have to keep my own data on the side because 
> there's no way to represent it semantically in OSM's tagging 
> structure. It's at worst an inconvenience.
> STATE PARKS (and many other types of public land)
> New York, like many US States, has a system of "State Parks," which 
> are land managed primarily for the purpose of public outdoor 
> recreation. (Some of them have secondary purposes such as resource 
> conservation. In particular, the large parks near the New York-New 
> Jersey border exist at least in part to protect watershed for the 
> cities of New Jersey.)
> Many, if not most of these parks, particularly the larger ones, are 
> multiple-use areas. They correspond roughly with "national park" in 
> the IUCN system - but I'm reluctant to use that terminology, since 
> they are not administered at the Federal level. "National Park" is a 
> specific term in the US, and it does not apply to State Parks. In any 
> case, "boundary=protected_area protect_class=2" seems made for them, 
> and IUCN appears to allow for the case where a government other than 
> the national one could designate such a thing. (On the other hand, on 
> their site, they accord New York's wilderness areas a protection class 
> of VI - while they enjoy virtually the strictest protection of any 
> wilderness areas in the country, and in my opinion are class Ib, and I 
> tagged them thus.) So, I'll accept that "state park" <=> "protected 
> area". That doesn't help me with rendering, of course. It'll just be a 
> blank spot on the map.

You are lucky. In Australia there are 'National Parks' administered by 
the Federal Government and 'National Parks' administered by State 
Governments! These can be tagged with the appropriate operator= tag for 
identification of that.
> So, what do to to make them show? "leisure=park" doesn't feel right. 
> The state parks I'm working on aren't small green spots in the city. 
> Some have large tracts of backcountry. A typical trekker will spend 
> 2-3 nights in the woods on a trip from Greenwood Lake to the Bear 
> Mountain Bridge through the parks. "landuse=forest" sort of works, 
> except that every documented meaning of that tag is a lie. The land is 
> not managed to harvest forest products; in fact, the taking of trees 
> is forbidden. Nor is the land, in most places, entirely covered by 
> trees; the parks encompass lakes, marshes, scrublands, and even 
> developed sections.
> But all right. I'll settle for either "landuse=forest" or 
> "leisure=nature_reserve" as something that at least does not misrender 
> horribly, and note that such tagging is retained for the benefit of 
> legacy renderers.+

  Your 'state parks' are administrative boundaries. Don't tag for the 
> But now I trip over another issue. A fair number of state parks lie on 
> the shoreline, be it the ocean front, the Hudson River, one of the 
> Great Lakes, or any number of smaller waterways. In many cases, their 
> legal boundaries extend for quite some distance offshore. This is 
> significant - it has implications for boaters, for instance - and so 
> we want to keep the boundary (which militates for 
> leisure=nature_reserve, which at least shows SOMETHING).
> If we were to tag landuse=forest or leisure=park or most such things, 
> we would run afoul of the fact that the current renderer will render 
> such areas as land or at least overprint patterns such as trees on them.
> The argument could be advanced that the "human" perspective of the 
> park is that it consists of the land portions, plus some offshore 
> regulated area that's a different animal. And I suppose that I could 
> therefore carefully carve out water from the legal boundary, and 
> create two different multipolygons that share most of the ways, one to 
> carry the "protected area" designation and the other to carry the 
> "landuse". That's starting to get into some really detailed work for 
> what I hoped would be an initial sketch (but see below for some 
> philosophy discussion).
> SO THE IMMEDIATE QUESTION ABOVE: "How would other people divide and 
> tag a state park whose property line extends offshore?" (The 
> particular case I have in mind is fairly complex; there are places 
> where the park's boundary is coterminuous with the high tide line, 
> other places where it's set back some distance from the water, and yet 
> other places where it extends far down the foreshore or out into 
> permanent open water.)

Tag the state park boundary as an administrative boundary, don't include 
any landcover tags on it.. the landcover should be a separate area/entity.
> It gets tremendously more complicated if detailed land use and land 
> cover are needed. Then there will be complex webs of multipolygons, 
> sharing some but not all of the ways. As a matter of fact, I have a 
> strong preference for NOT sharing ways among, say, preserve boundaries 
> and things such as "natural=wood" because they make editing really 
> complicated and seldom describe the situation in the field. Trees grow 
> where they will unless humans remove them. They are no respecters of 
> property lines.
> Is that what everyone else does? Do even the roughest sketches 
> (drawing the boundaries of parks, for instance) with webs of 
> multipolygons sharing many of the ways, so that one set of 
> multipolygons can be tagged for the protected area, another for the 
> land use, and still another the land cover? If so, it seems to make 
> for an editing nightmare.
Yep.. I'm on the side of separating the landcover and landuse ways .. 
they only follow one another for things like 'state forests' that are 
used for lumber production (primary use, secondaries of recreation and 
> Is there really no way to make these things approximately correct 
> without metre-by-metre analysis of land cover and land use? (Without 
> detailed exploration, which may not even be allowed, I surely cannot 
> tell a "natural" wood from a "managed" one. I can see indications, 
> such as the predominance of a single species of tree, or a narrow age 
> distribution of the trees, but these cases can arise naturally as 
> well. And I don't even know what "managed" means! Is a 
> highly-protected wilderness area 'managed'? Or does 'managed' imply a 
> plantation? I get conflicting answers.)

If I cannot tell then it is natural=wood, covers the existence of all 
trees - a landcover issue. .  what they get used for is a landuse issue. 
I stay well away for the 'managed' thing .. I think that is just confusing.

> What I tend to hear in this community is, "you're going at it all 
> wrong." Apparently, the only way to approach it is to start with your 
> own back yard and map only fine details, and then aggregate the 
> details into coarser structures. I'm getting the feeling that mapping 
> large objects such as parks, and then filling in the details of what 
> is in the parks, is something that the community deprecates. I do seem 
> to hear a subtext that I shouldn't care about where a park is until 
> I've mapped its interior in detail.
> If that's really the One True Way of Mapping, then the work that I've 
> done trying to get public land boundaries in New York sorted out is 
> largely in contravention to it. I hope that's not the case, and I'm 
> just running into the sort of special cases that might be expected in 
> a state whose largest park is larger than the nation of Slovenia.
> I suppose, otherwise, I could stick to detailed mapping - the sort of 
> thing that I did last weekend with 
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/41001386#map=15/42.8139/-74.1317&layers=N. 
> But I really want my map to show where the state land begins and ends, 
> so that I know where I'm allowed to travel before I get there. And it 
> would be nice if I don't have to go slogging through beaver swamp to 
> survey ponds and wetlands before I can have a polygon for the State 
> Forest - which, after all, is mostly wooded and ostensibly managed for 
> forestry. In practice, the land there is resource-poor enough that 
> there's little timber harvest, so it's more a recreational area. (And 
> in practice, few people want to recreate in that swamp. Now that I've 
> mapped the major features, I probably shan't be back. The only 
> important aspect was the long trail that traverses it, and I've got that.)

There are those who will only accept precise data and prefer a blank map 
if precise data is not available. The 'there be dragons' approach to 
mapping.  I take the view that indicative data is better than no data! 
So I would map what I suspect to the best of my knowledge is the 
situation on the ground. Then when I go there I would add data - 
increase the precision of the existing data (mine or others). The 
important thing about this 'indicative data' is to include a good source 
statement ... so people can see how vague or accurate it is.

> I won't even get into asking about how to tag seasonally-varying 
> wetlands, or ones that vary on a longer cycle. Beavers return to the 
> same areas fairly predictably. They may be grown to meadows or alder 
> swamps, but won't grow to mature forest before they're flooded again. 
> It's nice to have these cyclic areas mapped, since they will be muddy 
> but negotiable most years, and inundated and impassable in some. But 
> that's way more advanced than I'm trying to get to at present. I'll 
> settle for parcel boundaries, open water, and trail alignment.
There are also intermittent things - not to be confused with seasonal. 
And then there are a few things that are both seasonal and intermittent.

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