Geographic names committee seeks your input

McCleary,Washington
Wildcat Pond, named by the students at McCleary School, is up for consideration by the state’s Committee on Geographic Names. Photo: DNR.

Should a previously unnamed pond near the town of McCleary be officially called Wildcat Pond in honor of a nearby elementary school’s mascot? How about designating a unnamed waterway in Jefferson County as Cooper Creek to honor early homesteaders in the area?

Small changes, but all part of the job for the volunteers on the Washington State Committee on Geographic Names. The committee, which was created by the state legislature, is seeking input on three proposals before its October 23 meeting in Olympia. You can review the proposals — all submitted by Washington residents — and make your own comments on the DNR website.

The formal geographic naming process we use today was created in 1890 by presidential order because surveyors, map makers, and scientists needed uniform, non-conflicting geographic nomenclature. In this age of geographic information systems and the Internet, standard geographic names are more important than ever.

Changes approved by the committee would advance to the Board of Natural Resources for a final determination. Then, if approved, the proposal would go before the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for a decision.

(NOTE: The McCleary City Council approved the Wildcat Pond name in 2014)