This site is privately supported reference providing information of
interest to the land surveyor (also known as the Cadastral Surveyor)
involved in the preservation and retracement of the Public Land Survey
System (PLSS) in the United States. The term Cadastral, in the U.S.,
is most often associated with the Federal Land Surveying Authority. The
PLSS is also known as the "rectangular system", and was a key factor in
the orderly expansion west in the early history of the country.
Cadastral Survey is an operational program within the Bureau of Land Management,
Department of the Interior whose mission and focus includes:
So fine, but what is Cadastral really? The term comes from Latin base term
Cadastre referring to a registry of lands. So actually Cadastral Surveying
is surveying having to do with determining and defining land ownership
and boundaries. Seems like a pretty boring thing perhaps? Well a lot of
people think surveys are relatively unimportant until they find they have
located many hundreds of thousands of dollars of improvements, buildings,
etc. on someone else's land. Suddenly the value of knowing where your land
is comes into perspective.
Performing legal boundary surveys for the Federal Government. This includes
consultation and boundary determination expertise for USFS, Park Service,
Corps of Engineers, BIA, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation,
Steward of PLSS records for all active Public Land States, descendant from
original General Land Office, or the GLO, the creators of the Public Land
A 215 year history of getting the job done and practical innovation.
Currently maintains offices in Alaska,
Denver, Eastern States, Idaho,
, Washington D.C. and Wyoming.
Produces and maintains the primary land tenure records: the survey field
notes and plats.
Is a leader in developing spatial data as a basis for National Land Information
System. This includes a large data collection efforts which is underway,
known as the GCDB or Geographic Coordinate Data Base Project. This is the
largest project in the world for development of records based geographic
The practice of finding boundaries is neither a purely legal process,
nor a purely scientific process. It is something in between with a twist.
The boundary surveyor in finding an old survey must be cognizant
of the legal description of the land and any conflicts which may affect
it. This involves not only knowledge but skills in research and investigation.
Then the surveyor must be part archeologist to find physical evidence of
previous surveys and occupation on the ground. Throughout the process the
surveyor must understand the concepts of good measurements to find and
describe what is found, and be able to interpret it's relationship to the
record. In the end those that do it well find it can be rewarding and fun,
sort of as mathematical detective work, with archeology, dendrology, geology
and paralegal aspects thrown in. So we sometimes use the old saying "Land
Surveying" is both an art and a science.
This site is was created in May of 1996. Email any problems or comments
This document modified: 01/11/2017