Naming Geographic Features
Naming a geographic feature
Naming a lake, river, stream or other natural geographic feature in Minnesota is guided by Minnesota Statues 83A.02 - 83A.07.
The process begins at the county where the natural feature is located. Fifteen or more voters registered in that county must petition the county board of commissioners for a public hearing. If the county board agrees on the proposed name, the board adopts a resolution in support of the name.
The resolution is forwarded to the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner for approval. The Commissioner will not approve a name that commemorates, or may be seen to commemorate, a living person.
Approved names are submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for federal approval and use.
Public hearing documents
If you're interested in naming or changing the name of a geographic feature, the following samples may be used as you work with your county.
Minnesota Statute Chapter 83A
- 83A.02 - Powers and duities
- 83A.03 - Names given to be official
- 83A.04 - County boards naming geographic features must have approval of commissioner of natural resources
- 83A.05 - Changing and giving names to water bodies
- 83A.06 - Hearing on petition
- 83A.07 - Names not to be duplicated
- U.S. Board on Geographic Names
- U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Principles, Policies and Procedures
- U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Geographic Names Information System
- Minnesota Place Names
- Public Waters Inventory Maps
- Public Waters Inventory Lists
- Topographic Maps
- Minnesota Public Waters Name Changes
- Gazetteer of Meandered Lakes
- Bulletin No. 25 - An Inventory of Minnesota Lakes