National Forests and Private Ownership

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National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
Not all of the land within US National Forests is owned by the US Government, there are private "inholdings" [1]. 

The boundaries between government land and private land are often marked by signs, e.g.[2]  The above photo is geotagged, and if you drag it into JOSM you can see that it is quite far from the overall National Forest boundary as currently depicted in OSM[3].

The wiki mentions "inholdings", but it is not clear how these should be mapped[4].

How should these be mapped?
access=private/permissive?
ownership=private?

Mike



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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Kevin Kenny-3
On Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 3:10 PM Mike Thompson <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Not all of the land within US National Forests is owned by the US Government, there are private "inholdings" [1].
>
> The boundaries between government land and private land are often marked by signs, e.g.[2]  The above photo is geotagged, and if you drag it into JOSM you can see that it is quite far from the overall National Forest boundary as currently depicted in OSM[3].
>
> The wiki mentions "inholdings", but it is not clear how these should be mapped[4].
>
> How should these be mapped?
> access=private/permissive?
> ownership=private?

New York has a precisely parallel situation, with government-owned,
public-access land that has private inholdings. (Or odd cases where
the inholdings belong to a county or municipality, or to a different
government department.)


At present, I don't specifically map the inholdings - eventually they
probably ought to have mapping for some combination of landuse and
landcover. Instead, I simply have them as inner ways in the
multipolygon that represents the forest (or wilderness area, or park,
or whatever).

https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6362588 is a typical complex
case where a forest has both inholdings and exclaves. Many of the Wild
Forest areas in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks are similarly
diffuse.
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6360488 is a large wilderness
area that is considerably more compact, but still has some inholdings,
as well as travel corridors for certain roads.

Of course, if an inholding is also an identifiable feature that
deserves tagging on its own, then it gets tagged.  The Rollins Pond
campground https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/429190169 has an outer
way that is also an inner way of the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6362702

Mappers across the border in Vermont seem to have been approaching the
problem in the same way for National Forests. The Green Mountain
National Forest https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/1610352 is a
multipolygon that has a great many inner ways, one of which is tagged
separately as the George D. Aiken Wilderness
https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/116060605.  (This is a case where
I'm not positive that the mapping is right; I thought that the Aiken
Wilderness was part of the GMNF, but the topology seems to indicate
that it exists independently. Not my turf; I'll let the locals deal
with it.)

This practice can handle cases of almost unlimited weirdness, sich as
a National Park corridor that partly traverses a State Park, but is
itself broken up by rights-of-way for roads and power lines.
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6523267

By the way, I also make cutouts if I know that a right-of-way is NOT
part of the feature being mapped.  Woodland Valley Road,
https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/20213204, although it exists as an
easement for the inholding to the west, is part of the campground, and
it's obvious when you're driving it that you're "in" the campground.
By contrast, Red Hill Road where it runs through the Dinch Road unit
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6304739 remains the property of
the Department of Transportation, not the Bureau of Water Supply, and
there's a distinct sense that you're leaving and re-entering the
forest unit when you cross the road. Stewart State Forest
https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/6367564 is cut away for the
rights-of-way of the power line and the state and county roads, but
not for the logging roads or the residential access easement to the
east.

This tagging practice is controversial, and many mappers feel that I
should conjoin the regions if the forest unit exists on both sides of
the highway. I'm following the practice of the managing agencies.

(Ignore the alignment problems on the highways in these examples for
now. The cadastre in this part of the world is ... approximate. I'm
doing what I can with the data I've got.)

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
Thanks for the reply Kevin!

On Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 2:06 PM Kevin Kenny <[hidden email]> wrote:


At present, I don't specifically map the inholdings - eventually they
probably ought to have mapping for some combination of landuse and
landcover. Instead, I simply have them as inner ways in the
multipolygon that represents the forest (or wilderness area, or park,
or whatever).
Not representing them as part of the National Forest seems to be less than ideal.  They are part of the National Forest, and the land owners may be subject to "additional federal and agency-specific regulations..."[1]  If you went to the agency who manages the National Forest (US Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service) and asked them for the boundary of the land they manage, they would give you the larger area that includes both government and privately owned land (it appears that the current boundaries in OSM came from the Forest Service). Regarding "inner ways", these holdings are sometimes on the edge of the property owned by the US Government, in which case the outer way would have to be modified.

Mike



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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

USA mailing list
Outside of Congressionally designated, capital-W Wilderness, are they actually subject to significant additional oversight or management?

I'm not lucky enough to own such an inholding so as to need to know all the details, but in recent news coverage of such a parcel in Montana's Crazy Mountains, the USFS response seemed to be, "we wish it weren't being developed, but it's private land and not within Wilderness, so it's not really our business." (My paraphrase, I don't have the article handy). There was also a point made that most, if not all, such parcels have a right of access across USFS lands.

In that case, inner polygon exclusion seems appropriate, as it accurately depicts the situation on the ground. Actually tackling such a project in Montana (and I'd guess large parts of the West)  would be a nightmare due to checkerboard ownership, but even identifying inholdings that were posted against travel would be a helpful start.

I am aware of similar inholdings in Vermont state forests, too, although I'm not sure of the legal issues involved.

On Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 16:45 Mike Thompson <[hidden email]> wrote:
Thanks for the reply Kevin!

On Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 2:06 PM Kevin Kenny <[hidden email]> wrote:


At present, I don't specifically map the inholdings - eventually they
probably ought to have mapping for some combination of landuse and
landcover. Instead, I simply have them as inner ways in the
multipolygon that represents the forest (or wilderness area, or park,
or whatever).
Not representing them as part of the National Forest seems to be less than ideal.  They are part of the National Forest, and the land owners may be subject to "additional federal and agency-specific regulations..."[1]  If you went to the agency who manages the National Forest (US Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service) and asked them for the boundary of the land they manage, they would give you the larger area that includes both government and privately owned land (it appears that the current boundaries in OSM came from the Forest Service). Regarding "inner ways", these holdings are sometimes on the edge of the property owned by the US Government, in which case the outer way would have to be modified.

Mike


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
> Not all of the land within US National Forests is owned by the US
> Government, there are private "inholdings" [1].
>
> The boundaries between government land and private land are often marked by
> signs, e.g.[2]  The above photo is geotagged, and if you drag it into JOSM
> you can see that it is quite far from the overall National Forest boundary
> as currently depicted in OSM[3].

Land actually owned and operated by the USFS is always a subset of the
jurisdictional boundary of a given NF. Near where I live, half of the
entire city of Reno is within the Humboldt-Toiyabe boundary, the
entire city of South Lake Tahoe within LTBMU, town of Truckee entirely
within Tahoe NF, etc. The jurisdictional boundaries are more or less
unhelpful in determining whether land is managed by the USFS or not.
I'm assuming this must not be the case in other parts of the country,
where the vast majority of the land within a boundary can assumed to
be owned by the USFS?

Aside from surveying boundary markers (which are inconsistently placed
and would be a logistically impossible task), the only other ways to
know what land is actually owned by the USFS is to check county parcel
data, or use the 'Surface Ownership' gdb/shp available using the USFS
Data Extract tool. In CA, we are very lucky to have the CPAD database,
which compiles the majority of public/semi-public lands into one
database, updated yearly, and free to use (see Contributors page in
OSM wiki). Where these lands also have tree cover, I tag them
'landuse=forest' and 'access=yes'. Any private "inholding" gets tagged
for what it is.

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
The consensus of those who replied seem to be to exclude these privately held lands from the National Forest boundaries.  Is that correct? Does anyone object to that approach?  If not, I will proceed in that manner as well.

Mike


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
No, this is incorrect. USFS administrative boundaries and USFS managed
land are not the same thing, though the latter is always inside the
former. The boundaries currently in OSM are administrative boundaries,
and are tagged correctly as such. It is perfectly fine to have private
land within a USFS administrative boundary, in the same way it would
be okay to have private land within any other government-defined
jurisdictional boundary.

> The consensus of those who replied seem to be to exclude these privately held lands from the National Forest boundaries.  Is that correct? Does anyone object to that approach?  If not, I will proceed in that manner as well.
>
> Mike
>

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson


On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 1:12 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
No, this is incorrect. USFS administrative boundaries and USFS managed
land are not the same thing, though the latter is always inside the
former. The boundaries currently in OSM are administrative boundaries,
and are tagged correctly as such. It is perfectly fine to have private
land within a USFS administrative boundary, in the same way it would
be okay to have private land within any other government-defined
jurisdictional boundary.
Ok, so how to tag the parts that are within the administrative boundaries but which are not owned by the US Government? Or, how to tag the parts that are both within the boundary and owned by the US Government?

This is important information to prevent trespassing.

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Kevin-3
In reply to this post by Bradley White
Bradley,
I'm not sure that this is typically how federal lands are conceptualized, at least on the east coast.  It is usually as Mike suggests a 1:1 correspondence with the actual Fee Simple boundary and federal management.  A lot of times when maps are drawn or gis data is developed scale is a consideration and just conveying where a National Forest is is more important than showing a patchwork of in-holdings (which by the way are constantly changing with land swaps and selling or buying parcels). This may be where the idea of an administrative boundary or area comes from? In any case a really excellent source for all protected lands is the USGS PAD-US dataset.  https://www.usgs.gov/core-science-systems/science-analytics-and-synthesis/gap/science/protected-areas 
Disclaimer: I am the Georgia data steward.

So Mike,
I would say if you have the information and data that there's a private in-holding, I would exclude it from the National Forest (or whatever) polygon and maybe map the landcover (forest, etc) if you are so inclined.

Kevin

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:12 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
No, this is incorrect. USFS administrative boundaries and USFS managed
land are not the same thing, though the latter is always inside the
former. The boundaries currently in OSM are administrative boundaries,
and are tagged correctly as such. It is perfectly fine to have private
land within a USFS administrative boundary, in the same way it would
be okay to have private land within any other government-defined
jurisdictional boundary.

> The consensus of those who replied seem to be to exclude these privately held lands from the National Forest boundaries.  Is that correct? Does anyone object to that approach?  If not, I will proceed in that manner as well.
>
> Mike
>

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
> Ok, so how to tag the parts that are within the administrative boundaries but which are not owned by the US Government? Or, how to tag the parts that are both within the boundary and owned by the US Government?

It depends on what is actually on the ground. It appears you and
others are conflating jurisdictional boundaries with
landuse/ownership. While NF-owned land must be within a NF boundary,
that is the end of any relationship between NF boundaries and
on-the-ground landuse. The "National Forest property behind this sign"
demarcates landuse, not jurisdiction. For example, in theory, there
could exist a single parcel of private property, that is also
partially within a designated wilderness, that also spans across two
different national forest boundaries. There's no casual relationship
between these concepts, in the sense that "this land is private,
therefore it is a 'hole' in the NF boundary".

What is actually on the ground should be tagged using landuse.
Private forest cabin within NF? landuse=residential, access=private.
Tree-covered land owned by USFS? landuse=forest, access=yes,
operator=Tahoe National Forest.
Private timber harvesting land? landuse=forest,
access=private/permissive, operator=whoever.
Notice that none of these involve changes to anything 'boundary',
because they're distinct and (mostly) orthogonal concepts.

The NF boundaries, for the most part, are correct in OSM as they are
and should not be touched unless incorrect per USFS GIS data which is
the reference for them. It's difficult to notice when they've been
incorrectly changed, and it's even more difficult to fix them once
they have been messed up. Someone has made up a lot of work in
California a few years ago by making wilderness boundaries share ways
with NF boundaries (mutually excluding NF jurisdiction from wilderness
area), when in fact wilderness areas *overlap* NF jurisdictional
boundaries and do _not_ exclude them (ie, wilderness areas are often
managed by multiple National Forests, and are not their own
separately-managed entity). I have fixed a couple near Lake Tahoe, but
it is enormously time consuming work that requires some experience
with GIS tools as well as JOSM, which is very frustrating considering
they were correct in the first place.

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Kevin-3
Every National Forest has an administrative boundary - they can be
downloaded here:
https://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/webapps/EDW_DataExtract/. Accept the
disclaimer, click the button with the scissors in the top left corner,
choose the national forest you want, select 'Administrative Forest
Boundaries' (preselected), choose your file format, and open in your
favorite GIS program. This boundary is what is in OSM, or at least
what should be. These boundaries can also be viewed using USFS Topo
maps (https://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/rastergateway/states-regions/states.php)

You will see that sometimes private land punches a hole in these
boundaries, and if so it should be in OSM as such. But you will also
see that sometimes (often times in the west coast), private land
*doesn't* punch a hole in the boundary, and thus there *shouldn't* be
a hole in the boundary in OSM despite being a private in-holding. This
is what I mean by these conflating landuse and jurisdiction. Private
land inside NF boundaries does not automatically mean there's a hole
in NF boundary.

Please do not add holes in the boundary unless they are officially
designated! Otherwise there is no point to keeping these
administrative boundaries in OSM.

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 12:45 PM Kevin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Bradley,
> I'm not sure that this is typically how federal lands are conceptualized, at least on the east coast.  It is usually as Mike suggests a 1:1 correspondence with the actual Fee Simple boundary and federal management.  A lot of times when maps are drawn or gis data is developed scale is a consideration and just conveying where a National Forest is is more important than showing a patchwork of in-holdings (which by the way are constantly changing with land swaps and selling or buying parcels). This may be where the idea of an administrative boundary or area comes from? In any case a really excellent source for all protected lands is the USGS PAD-US dataset.  https://www.usgs.gov/core-science-systems/science-analytics-and-synthesis/gap/science/protected-areas
> Disclaimer: I am the Georgia data steward.
>
> So Mike,
> I would say if you have the information and data that there's a private in-holding, I would exclude it from the National Forest (or whatever) polygon and maybe map the landcover (forest, etc) if you are so inclined.
>
> Kevin
>
> On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 3:12 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> No, this is incorrect. USFS administrative boundaries and USFS managed
>> land are not the same thing, though the latter is always inside the
>> former. The boundaries currently in OSM are administrative boundaries,
>> and are tagged correctly as such. It is perfectly fine to have private
>> land within a USFS administrative boundary, in the same way it would
>> be okay to have private land within any other government-defined
>> jurisdictional boundary.
>>
>> > The consensus of those who replied seem to be to exclude these privately held lands from the National Forest boundaries.  Is that correct? Does anyone object to that approach?  If not, I will proceed in that manner as well.
>> >
>> > Mike
>> >
>>
>> _______________________________________________
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>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk-us

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
A visual example since I don't feel like what I'm saying is being
understood: https://imgur.com/a/0ELKyxH

This key works for anywhere on this
(https://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/rastergateway/states-regions/states.php)
slippy map - take a look at the national forests near you and you will
find plenty of private land that is still within the NF boundary.

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
In reply to this post by Bradley White



Please do not add holes in the boundary unless they are officially
designated! Otherwise there is no point to keeping these
administrative boundaries in OSM.
Ok, but we still need to know where those private inholdings are, because Forest regulations will not apply.  For example, unless posted otherwise, I can go anywhere on National Forest government owned lands, and I can camp anywhere as long as I am not within a certain distance of a road or stream.  I can't do those things on private land. So access=private, ownership=private?


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
In reply to this post by Bradley White


On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 2:21 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
A visual example since I don't feel like what I'm saying is being
understood: https://imgur.com/a/0ELKyxH
The link takes me to a page that is asking me to sign in.


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
Yes I understand that, that is what the landuse tag is for. Private
land should tagged as private. Public land should be tagged as public.
The 'access' tag is probably preferable for this, and it's what I use.
My point is that none of this involves the NF boundary, and to please
leave it alone because it's a pain to fix problems with it.

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 1:22 PM Mike Thompson <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
>
>>
>> Please do not add holes in the boundary unless they are officially
>> designated! Otherwise there is no point to keeping these
>> administrative boundaries in OSM.
>
> Ok, but we still need to know where those private inholdings are, because Forest regulations will not apply.  For example, unless posted otherwise, I can go anywhere on National Forest government owned lands, and I can camp anywhere as long as I am not within a certain distance of a road or stream.  I can't do those things on private land. So access=private, ownership=private?
>

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Bradley White
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
Sorry - not too familiar with imgur! Does this work?
https://i.imgur.com/4OC23x3.png

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 1:24 PM Mike Thompson <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
>
> On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 2:21 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> A visual example since I don't feel like what I'm saying is being
>> understood: https://imgur.com/a/0ELKyxH
>
> The link takes me to a page that is asking me to sign in.
>>
>>

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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
In reply to this post by Bradley White


On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 2:28 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
Yes I understand that, that is what the landuse tag is for. Private
land should tagged as private. Public land should be tagged as public.
The 'access' tag is probably preferable for this, and it's what I use.
My point is that none of this involves the NF boundary, and to please
leave it alone because it's a pain to fix problems with it.
I understand and generally agree.  One point is that the NFS may have made arrangements with the landowner such that some access by the public is permitted.  I say this because an official USFS trail (Crosier Mountain Trail)[1] crosses private land and there are no signs saying "No Trespassing"


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

stevea
In reply to this post by Mike Thompson
Another place to discuss this might be https://wiki.osm.org/wiki/Talk:United_States/Public_lands , an emerging place to try to unravel the highly complex multi-jurisdictional, part human-recreation (part not), "public lands" in the USA.  This wiki originally started from a multi-volunteer effort to try to better express semantics regarding "parks" — especially "state parks" and "county parks," somewhat nightmare-ish in OSM, but with greater understanding and many voices, perhaps many years from now, I believe these issues can be solved, if not better expressed than they are today.

The issues discussed, like inholdings, wilderness-OVER-forest (rather than subsets of) are what I and others here have mightily struggled with for over a decade, especially as good data (like USFS shapefiles and CPAD) have emerged and are available to us, AND update over time!  The topics (and concomitant tagging) are complex and not easy for OSM's tradition of wide consensus to agree upon.  Nonetheless, we should continue to strive to do our best.  I am heartened to see good discussion like this here.

Please know that when you ask such questions, and others (well-intentioned, intelligent, familiar with the topics and difficulties involved...) chime in, you walk into a very large space with seriously complex semantics.  OSM can (and will, I believe) better untangle these issues, but we must give ourselves the time and polite space for the many voices, points of view and deep knowledge we have to synthesize into how we best do this.  A good starting point is "this is difficult, there are widely differing points of view, there's a lot of history in OSM and new schemes have emerged while older data remain in the map."  See, that right there is a lot to chew on!  There are likely multiple ways forward, really.

SteveA
California
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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
In reply to this post by Bradley White


On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 2:30 PM Bradley White <[hidden email]> wrote:
Sorry - not too familiar with imgur! Does this work?
https://i.imgur.com/4OC23x3.png
Yes, that worked!


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Re: National Forests and Private Ownership

Mike Thompson
In reply to this post by Bradley White



This key works for anywhere on this
(https://data.fs.usda.gov/geodata/rastergateway/states-regions/states.php)
slippy map - take a look at the national forests near you and you will
find plenty of private land that is still within the NF boundary.
I downloaded a quad (geotiff) for part of the area in question and pulled it into QGIS.  It generally agrees with the county land ownership information, with the exception that some state lands are shown on the quad as owned by the Federal Government.  Perhaps this is an error in one of the datasets.

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