[Tagging] Tagging of State Parks in the US

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Sat Jul 20 21:38:45 UTC 2019

Summary: I propose that the unifying feature of the typical State Park
is its protection status, and propose that one tag combination that
ought to appear on its boundary is `boundary=protected_area
protect_class=21`. I solicit community feedback before trying to
stitch this idea into the Wiki or opening a ticket requesting that
OSM-Carto render these areas.

(I wrote a much longer diary entry about this at
https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/ke9tv/diary/390260 that presents
some of the background and argues in much greater detail. I hope that
it could serve as the foundation of a Wiki description. I make a
briefer discussion below.)

Over the few years that I've contributed to OSM, I've seen several
quite acrimonious controversies erupt over the tagging of State Parks
in the US. The controversy seems to stem from the fact that although
State Parks are named and signed as unified wholes, a typical State
Park is multiple things according to the OSM data model and therefore
'ought' to be mapped as components: this part is a recreation ground,
this part is a nature reserve, this part is indeed a 'park' in the
sense of a sculpted landscape for visual enjoyment, and so on. There
is no place for the whole.

Likewise, 'boundary=national_park' has been controversial for State
Parks. While some 'quack like a duck', many more don't look like or
perform the same function as our National Parks. Moreover, some
mappers object to 'boundary=national_park' for any feature that
doesn't have National Park in its name, or any feature that is not
administered by the National Park Service.

Recently, it occurred to me that one aspect that does unify a State
Park is the idea of protection. A State Park is a protected_area. None
of the classes 1-6 fits it, because, generally speaking, it is not a
nature-protected area. Rather, it is a community-protected area. It
may be extensively developed with recreational facilities, but it is
protected against someone buying the land and strip-mining it or
building condos. In fact, on the Wiki page,
- I see class 21: 'community protected area', listing typical
protection objects as, religious, sacred areas, associative areas, and
recreation. We therefore already have appropriate tagging for this
type of protection! (Unfortunately, it doesn't yet render. That's
fixable, I presume.)

In fact, some time ago, I had gone through New York State facilities,
and tagged the recreational ones with exactly this combination. At the
time, it was not with the intention of floating a proposal such as
this, it was out of ignorance - I saw what appeared to be the
appropriate protection class on the Wiki, and used it. At the time, I
didn't check taginfo or Overpass, and so was entirely unaware that I
was virtually the only mapper to use the `protect_class=21` tag. New
York therefore could provide a test case.

Of course, we can continue to have a healthy discussion over
`landuse=*` and `leisure=*` for these areas, but I wonder if all the
parties can at least agree that tagging these features as protected
areas is correct and appropriate? If so, we can ask that the renderer
work off the protection status and at least have some common ground to
start from, allowing the features to appear on the map without dispute
even as the taxonomic arguments continue.

Given the amount of heat that has surrounded the tagging of State
Parks, I raise this idea with some trepidation, but ... what do other
mappers think? (For what it's worth, I've run the idea in private past
a few of the more strident voices, and while there has been the
expected quibbling over details, nobody seems to have a real objection
to the broad contours of the idea.)

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