About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Footsteps: Changes to the 2009 Manual of Surveying Instructions Print E-mail
Written by Landon Blake, LS   
Friday, 23 September 2011

A 175Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

In a previous article, published online in June 2011, I discussed why the 2009 update to the Manual of Surveying Instructions was needed and how the BLM implemented it. The article is available in the Amerisurv Exclusive Online section of The American Surveyor website at www.amerisurv.com/content/view/8774/. What follows here are highlights of some of those changes in the 2009 edition of the Manual as compared to the 1973 edition.

Four areas of significant change include water boundaries, standard of evidence, coordinates as evidence, and mineral survey resurveys. There is also a policy clarification related to closing corners, Alaska-specific material, and information on Historical Land Surveying Methods that was removed from Chapter 2.

Four Areas of Significant Change
Three major changes related to water boundaries including determining the navigability of a water body, issues involving submerged lands, and ownership of unsurveyed islands. The 1973 Edition contained a small group of sections on meander lines for water bodies in Chapter 3, but little other material related to water boundaries. Now expanded, the 2009 Edition also contains a new chapter on resurveys and a comprehensive discussion of water boundaries (Chapter 8). Much of this material is drawn from the book River and Lake Boundaries by James Simpson. Topics include: Resurvey of Meander Lines, Navigability, Source of Law Considerations (Conflict between State and Federal Law), Delimitation of Opposite Banks, Water Body Movements, Partition Lines in Accreted and Relicted Areas, Islands and Sandbars, Erroneously Omitted Lands, Accretion Prior to Entry, Land Outside Meanders with No Gross Error In Survey, Mineral Land Surveys and Water Boundaries, Acquired Lands and Tidal Waters, and Division of Tidewater Flats.

The standard of evidence used to determine if a PLSS corner is existent, obliterated, or lost has been clarified. The definition of these three corner categories has been updated in the new edition of the manual to reflect this clarification.

The 2009 Edition explains the new standard of evidence that must be met to categorize a client as existent or obliterated. This standard has been clarified as "substantial evidence". Section 6-11 provides a definition of this "substantial evidence" standard: "Relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion. Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of evidence, but less than a preponderance of the evidence."

Section 6-15 clarifies that there are no set rules on corner status determination, but that good professional judgment must be used when evaluating the evidence to see if it meets the "substantial evidence" standard.

The 2009 Edition provides instructions on when repeatable coordinates can be used as collateral evidence of a PLSS corner location. It also provides a description of circumstances in which repeatable coordinates may be the best available evidence of the corner location. Section 2-33 and 2-34 provides general information on the use of the State Plane Coordinate System for PLSS surveys.

The 2009 Edition also greatly expands the instructions on mineral resurveys and mineral segregation surveys. This expanded content incorporates material from the BLM Mineral Survey Procedures Guide. The new material on mineral resurveys is in Chapter 10, Section 10-208 to Section 10-229.

Policy Clarification on Closing Corners
The 2009 Edition makes a policy clarification regarding closing corners. In our previous understanding, closing corners only controlled the alignment of the junior PLSS line being established. It did not control the alignment or position of the senior PLSS line being intersected. The new understanding is that closing corners set during a careful retracement may be accepted as controlling the senior line marked. This may result in a small kink or angle point in the senior line. The distinction between whether a closing corner will control a senior line is directly related to the method used to set the closing corner. The retracing land surveyor needs to ask when the corner was set and if its position was the result of a careful retracement of the senior corners. If the closing corner was located properly after a proper retracement of the senior corners, it may control the senior PLSS line. See Section 7-24, Section 7-25, and Section 7-26 of the 2009 Edition for more information.

Alaska-Centric Survey Statutes
Scattered throughout the Manual is Alaska-centric material. For example, there is a discussion of the rules related to the meandering of water bodies in Alaska on page 26.

Information Removed From Chapter 2
One of the goals of the 2009 Edition was to be technology independent. As part of the effort to reach this goal, information on historical surveying methods included in the 1973 Edition was removed from the 2009 Edition. However, this material is still valuable to the land surveyor that needs to retrace historical PLSS surveys. It is essential that the retracing surveyor in this situation understand the tools and methods used by the PLSS land surveyor that preceded him. As a consequence, the material removed from Chapter 2 of the 2009 Edition is still valuable. My review of Chapter 2 in both editions revealed the sections on measurement with tapes, stadia measurements, subtense bar measurements, traversing methods, triangulation, electronic telemetry, and the use of photogrammetry in PLSS surveys have been removed from the 2009 edition. The prohibition on using the magnetic needle to determine the direction of a line in a PLSS survey remains in Chapter 2, though it has moved from Section 2-18 to Section 2-4. Section 2-4 of the new edition also mentions other historical means of establishing direction, including the solar compass, transit with solar attachment, and direct observation of Polaris or other stars. However, this section does not contain any details on the way these historical methods were executed.

It seems prudent for land surveyors working in areas governed by the PLSS to keep or obtain a copy of the 1973 Edition in order to reference information on methods used by previous PLSS surveyors as needed during their retracement work. A PDF copy of the 1973 Edition can be downloaded from the Arizona Office of the BLM at this URL: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/cad/manual.html.

Landon Blake is currently project manager and project surveyor for a small civil engineering and land surveying company in California's Central Valley. Licensed in California and Nevada, his many activities include speaking and teaching at group conferences around the state.

A 175Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


Trimble Announces
Alloy RTN Receiver

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax