In the remote meadows and forests of upstate New York, state environmental scientists have made a disturbing discovery: a road, a stream and a lake all bearing names using the most offensive racial word in the English language.
A vestige of a long-ago past, the n-word—fully spelled out—still lingers in environmental conservation laws classifying bodies of water.
“It was a shock to us. The term is very offensive,” said Scott Stoner, a research scientist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “These are not regulations that get looked at often, but somebody discovered it.”
Mr. Stoner said a regional researcher alerted the agency about the racial epithet two years ago. Officials, he said, then did a computer search and found three other examples buried in regulatory indexes and a map.
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