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#1
Sylvie

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There was some discussion back in April about the shortcomings of GNIS data.

This seems to be the same data as GNIS. I have some very serious doubts about the reliability of this data. I checked my part of The Netherlands and it lists many huge cities that I have never heard of. I don't know how good it is for other countries, but based on this small sample I would not recommend using this.

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Even so, GNIS data for north Idaho has been a great resource for the map I am working on. Because I am very familiar with the area and have multiple sources to cross-check it against, I can use it with confidence. I estimate that it has provided at least 70% of labels I’ll need, and of those, less than 5% have required editing. However, it is not without its quirks.

There was one point location, Sheepherder Point, which was placed to the north of where I know that point to be. I asked GNIS why it had been moved, and the reply was that a triangulation station had been placed at the north location, and mistakenly named for the point to the south. So GNIS officially changed the location of the point. They just went ahead and moved a historical name and gave it a new home. What’s worse is that the new placement of this name has usurped the old name for the point, which is Thompson Point, named for explorer David Thompson. I find it somewhat irksome that history is being overwritten, literally, because of a goof. The way I decided to handle it on the map is to mark one Sheepherder Point “official” and the other “historical,” and show the “alternate” name of Thompson Point right alongside the “official” Sheepherder Point. It might get a bit crowded, but I feel strongly about indicating the historical significance of the area.

GNIS also indicates the location of Petroglyphs, which sadly have been vandalized over the years. I have reluctantly decided to omit this spot from my map in order to keep their profile low, and maybe aid in their preservation. I mentioned this to the curator at our local historical society, and was advised that I was making a wise choice because otherwise the local tribe would sue me. Has anyone ever heard of this happening, and what outcome resulted? I am also curious about what other purposeful omissions my fellow cartographers have made, and why.
Sylvie Amezcua White
TerraPen GeoGraphics

#2
David T

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GNIS has an interesting 'point' location for my installation (Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton). The point location that they use for the installation is located near the beach, in a housing area. I've gone out with my GPS unit to double check the point (mostly because I wanted to get out of the office), and sure enough - it's in the middle of a residental street.

No one that I've spoken to here at the base knows why that point was chosen. It's not the central to the base. It's near the southwest corner. Common thought around here is that either the center of the base, or the command area, should have been used for the geographic coordinates. I've never bothered to contact GNIS to see if I could get this updated.

GNIS also indicates the location of Petroglyphs, which sadly have been vandalized over the years.  I have reluctantly decided to omit this spot from my map in order to keep their profile low, and maybe aid in their preservation.  I mentioned this to the curator at our local historical society, and was advised that I was making a wise choice because otherwise the local tribe would sue me.  Has anyone ever heard of this happening, and what outcome resulted?  I am also curious about what other purposeful omissions my fellow cartographers have made, and why.

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In California, archaeological data is protected by state law. State law (as our Base Archaeologist has explained to me) says that arch sites cannot be given out to the public. They are protected, and can only be shared by archaeologists. Even as the maintainer of our GIS, I'm not allowed access to them. We keep the site data in a closed GIS database, that only our Archaeologists have access to.
David Toney, GISP
GIS Manager
United States Marine Corps
West Coast Installations

#3
Dennis McClendon

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GNIS has an interesting 'point' location for my installation (Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton). The point location that they use for the installation is located near the beach, in a housing area.


It's probably just the center of the label on the topo maps from which GNIS was compiled. A few years ago I was on a NACIS field trip at Geomatics Canada where they explained that in their system every feature--even the Rocky Mountains--has a single point for labels to attach to.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com




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