[Talk-us] Blue Ridge Parkway

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Tue Jan 31 01:00:58 UTC 2017

On Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 7:07 PM, OSM Volunteer stevea
<steveaOSM at softworkers.com> wrote:
> The boundary=national_park tag has seen much use and abuse over many years.  Perhaps because it renders as green dashes, it was inappropriately used (and is today?) for state parks and other non-national parks, though in the past (five years ago?) this was rather widely tolerated.  However, now our boundary=protected_area and protect_class keys are superior, even as rendering support for them remains under-developed.  That's OK:  OSM wants accurate tagging rather than tagging for the renderer.  Renderers can, do and will "catch up."  Not in  the case of every tag to be sure, but our consensus, being of utmost importance, deserves the waits involved, tedious as this process can be.

The use of UK English as the OSM standard gets in the way here, since
the UK has nothing that's a direct parallel to a state park. States of
the US at least hypothetically share sovereignty with the Federal
government; state parks are the creation of a sovereign entity. In
fact, the Adirondack and Catskill Parks in New York State (which,
incidentally are not State Parks, but rather constitute the State
Forest Preserve) enjoy stronger legal protection than any of our
National Parks. The former are enshrined in the state constitution,
and it would take a constitutional amendment (a lengthy and
complicated legal process, requiring a supermajority in two sessions
of the state legislature, plus a popular referendum) to disband or
alter them. The latter are the creation of acts of Congress, and what
one Congress created another can destroy. I was quite comfortable with
boundary=national_park for those entities. (Within them are a large
number of boundary=protected area with different protect_classes.)

I know that when I worked on retagging the units of the Forest
Preserve, I also wound up having some conversations about
protect_class. Some people here were reluctant to assign
protect_class=1b to the Wilderness, Wlld Forest, Canoe and Primitive
areas of these facilities, because they are not Federally designated
wilderness. My understanding is that IUCN does not distinguish
protected areas based on what government extended the protection.
These are all administered as wilderness (in various degrees), and 1b
is a better fit than any other designation.

The legal designation of these lands is complex, and doesn't really
fit any other system. I made some arbitrary decisions with assigning
IUCN classes - and then left NYSDEC:category and NYSDEC:class fields
in place that carry in words the legal designations in case they
should be of interest in the future. Most importantly, in my opinion,
I documented all the decisions at
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/NYS_DEC_Lands and

I'm really fine with less-precise tagging for rendering: few renderers
will care about the subtle legal difference between a Wild Forest and
a Forest Preserve Detached Parcel, or a Shoreline Protection Area and
a Tidal Wetland. The detailed legalities are there in the tagging for
those that do care, and the tag values are documented.

The protect_class really should pair with a protection_object, and
choosing the protection_object generally winds up informing the choice
of protect_class. For instance, the New York City-owned recreation
areas in the Catskills, while they are popular recreational
destinations for hiking, hunting, fishing, trapping, boating and bird
watching, all have as their principal objective the protection of the
area from development to assure water quality in New York's
reservoirs. That fact informed 'protection_object=water', which in
turn guided the somewhat unusual choice of 'protect_class=12'.  State
Historic Sites got 'protection_object=heritage' (and a stack of
heritage=* tagging), which in turn informed 'protect_class=22'. The
National Park Service-owned corridor of the Appalachian National
Scenic Trail got protect_object=recreation, which implied
protect_class=21. And so on, and on, and on, through dozens of
different special cases.

I used leisure=nature_reserve for a great many of these areas. (Nature
reserves encompass a wide variety of things.) At such time as
protected_area is better supported, the protect_class will give better
information, but in the meantime, it gives us something to render.
That is important. People relate to parks, and expect to see them on
maps. The fact that the rendering has not caught up with the precision
of the data model is no excuse to make them disappear from the maps.

In short, I tag (in a very limited and specific way) for the renderer
today AND for the data model tomorrow. I need both the detailed
information of how the land is administered and to have the parks show
up on today's maps. I'll be happy to remove inappropriate
national_park and nature_reserve once the renderers offer me something
better to call the things.

As an exception, I'd actually retain the national_park designation for
the Adirondack and Catskill parks. These entities are massive: the
Adirondack Park is larger than Slovenia. These entities also are
administered as complex public-private partnerships with a great many
different classes of protection within them. They are not monolithic
protected_areas. They also are highly visible to the public, with
large signs wherever a highway enters and leaves them. And they are,
in effect, the local government for tens of thousands of people who
live on inholdings within the parks - surely more visible to the
locals than their county governments or the hypothetical governments
of their unincorporated townships.

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