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The "N word" is offensive to us and it has no place in New York state regulation...

State purges "N Word" from Environment regulations

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New York's Department of Environmental Conservation has begun a process designed to eliminate the racially charged "N-word" from all its maps and regulations.

The change affects documents created decades ago and includes one small lake in the southern Adirondacks. Brian Mann has details.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Jerold Pepper, the librarian at the Adirondack Museum, says racially offensive names – including the N-word – were once given fairly casually to mountains and ponds and other features across the Park.

"They’re an historical artifact. They sort of preserve the conventional sensibilities of the turn of the century, when those maps were made. And again, I think it’s perfectly reasonable that those names are taken off maps and documents because they’re offensive," Pepper said.

There have been efforts to eliminate names that we now consider racist before. Scott Stoner, a researcher with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, says a computer search found that three specific names were still on the books – including a small body of water near Canada Lake in Fulton County.

"The term is offensive to us and it has no place in New York state regulation," Stoner insisted.  "So we’re doing this simple consensus rule-making action to purge that word from our regulations.”

The DEC’s process won’t actually rename the Fulton County lake – that’s up to local officials and community members. In official state documents the lake will now be identified by its location.

Stoner said the regulatory change – known as consensus rule-making – wasn’t sparked by any complaints from the public.  In fact, the documents that contain the offensive names are rarely looked at by anyone.

"This is a stack of books of regulations, mostly old regulations from 30, 40, 50 years ago, a stack of books about two feet high," Stoner said.

Two other specific uses of the N-word found outside the Adirondacks will also be cut from state regs, one describing a small tributary of the Genessee River, and the other describing a road near the town of Amboy, New York, according to Stoner.

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