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An inside Review of. 8 th Annual Oregon Institute of Technology and Bureau of Land Management Surveying Workshop Clackamas, Oregon - November 12, 2010. Mary Hartel , BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor Oregon and Washington Portland, OR Bob Dahl, BLM Cadastral Surveyor

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8th Annual Oregon Institute of TechnologyandBureau of Land Management Surveying WorkshopClackamas, Oregon - November 12, 2010

Mary Hartel, BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor

Oregon and Washington

Portland, OR

Bob Dahl, BLM Cadastral Surveyor

Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey

Washington, D.C.

November 12, 2010

what s different
What’s Different?


Obsolete subjects in the 1973 edition of the Manual have not been included in the 2009 Manual.


Subjects not in the 1973 Manual have been added to the 2009 Manual


Subjects in the 1973 Manual have been elaborated on in the 2009 Manual

the manual provides
The Manual provides:
  • Rules to survey the PLSS by
  • An expression of the intent when Federal Government is grantor
  • OR / WA: Adoption by State legislature, administrative rule, attorney general opinion, common law, and/or common practice

2009 Manual Section 1-3

oregon revised statutes title 20 counties and county officers chapter 209 county surveyors
OREGON REVISED STATUTESTitle 20. Counties and County OfficersChapter 209. County Surveyors

ORS § 209.070. Duties in respect to surveys.

The county surveyor shall:

(4) Make all surveys of legal subdivisions with reference to the current Manual.

ORS § 209.250(1).

RPLS shall comply with ORS 209.070(4).

  • Manual Style Guide
  • Sections Cross Reference Guide; 1973 to 2009
what is removed
What is removed?

2009 Manual

measurement technology
Measurement Technology

The 2009 edition is largely technology independent.

How the surveyor determines the relationship between point A and point B (measurement procedures; what instrumentation is used) will be determined for each survey from the best available technology to meet the purpose of that survey.

How to measure is better handled by special instructions.


Federal Interest Lands

Any land (including subsurface, surface, water column and above surface) with a Federal interest.

For purposes of Federal Authority Surveys, the Federal agency currently administrating the land is not relevant.

Federally controlled

Public lands

Public Domain

2009 Manual Sections 1-2fn1 & 1-13


Official Survey/Federal Authority

  • Request for survey;
  • Special Instructions;
  • Assignment Instructions;
  • Field work;
  • Field note record;
  • Plat;
  • Acceptance for the Director; and
  • Officially filed.

2009 Manual Section 1-4


Local Survey

  • A local survey is an opinion on the location of a boundary based on a survey that does not contain every element of an official survey.

2009 Manual Section 1-5


Administrative Survey

  • An administrative survey is a local survey for a Federal agency executed by a Federal employee or an agent of a Federal agency for administrative purposes.
  • An opinion on the location of a Federal, including trust or restricted interest boundary, based on an executed land survey that does not contain every element of an official survey.

2009 Manual Section 1-5

indian allotment surveys
Indian Allotment Surveys

Subdivision of Section – Three-Mile Method

  • vs. subdivision of section – statutory method
  • Original survey plat controls
  • Former Indian reservation land (ceded lands) can be miles from any current Indian reservation

2009 Manual Sections 10-11 to 10-20

indian allotment surveys1
Indian Allotment Surveys

Subdivision of Section – Three-Mile Method

  • Not to be confused with the separate subject of GLO allotment surveys versus United States Indian Service (USIS) allotment surveys

2009 Manual Sections 10-21 to 10-25

chapter s crosswalk
Chapters Crosswalk

1973 Edition 2009 Manual

Ch. 1 - The General Plan

Ch. 2 - Methods of Survey

Ch. 3 - The System of Rectangular Surveys

Ch. 4 - Monumentation

Ch. 5 - Lost or

Obliterated Corners

Ch. 6 - Resurveys

Ch. 7 - Special Surveys and Instructions

Ch. 8 - Field Notes

Ch. 9 - Plats

Ch. 10 - Mineral Surveys

Ch. 1 - The General Plan

Ch. 2 - Methods of Survey

Ch. 3 - The System of Rectangular Surveys

Ch. 4 - Monumentation

Ch. 5 - Principles of Resurveys

Ch. 6 - Resurveys and Evidence

Ch. 7 - Resurveys and Restoration

Ch. 8 - Resurveys and Water Boundaries

Ch. 9 - Special Instructions, Field Notes, and Plats

Ch. 10 - Special Surveys and Mineral Surveys

what is changed
What is “changed”?

Very little technical / legal policy has “changed” from

The 1973 edition

Current BLM policy

New and/or Change depends on your definition

areas of clarification
Areas of Clarification
  • Technical Policy
  • Coordinates as collateral evidence
  • Resurveys & closing corners
  • Controlling intermediate corners
  • Bona fide rights
  • Standard of evidence
  • Water boundaries
  • Mineral survey resurveys
technical policy
Technical Policy
  • Prospective in Application
  • Not Retrospective in Application

2009 Manual Section 6-34

coordinates as collateral evidence
Coordinates as Collateral Evidence
  • Repeatable within a quantifiable accuracy standard.
  • Repeatable coordinates may be the best available evidence for the position of an obliterated corner.
  • The best available evidence may be substantial evidence of the position of the original corner.

2009 Manual Section 2-34

coordinates as collateral evidence1
Coordinates as Collateral Evidence


  • “. . . . if the first surveyor documents how he or she obtained the coordinates so the second surveyor can, within an acceptable degree of confidence, determine the same point on the earth's surface (following in the computational footsteps) within an acceptable level of certainty, then coordinates may be the best available evidence of the corner position.”

2009 Manual Section 2-34

resurveys closing corners
Resurveys & Closing Corners

A corner, no matter what it has been called in the official record, (closing corner, junior corner, crossing closing corner, intersection point, or corner of minimum control) established during an obviously careful retracement of the intersected, senior, or existing line, can be accepted in place, and may be an angle point in the intersected, senior, or existing line.

2009 Manual Sections 3-74 to 3-79, 7-47 & 7-48

Resurveys & Closing Corners
  • Historical policy – By policy, closing corner monuments were not intended to be established on intersected line.
  • Modern policy (adopted between 1902 and 1919) – By policy, closing corner monuments are intended to be established on intersected line.

2009 Manual Section 3-74 to 3-79

controlling intermediate corners
Controlling Intermediate Corners
  • Witness corners
  • Line trees
  • Witness points
  • Meander corners

2009 Manual Sections 6-27 to 6-30

controlling intermediate corners1
Controlling Intermediate Corners
  • Controlling intermediate corners control:
    • Section line alignment
    • Reestablishment of lost corners
    • Establishment of minor subdivisional corners

2009 Manual Sections 6-27 to 6-30

standard of evidence
Standard of Evidence
  • Standard of evidence
    • existent corner – section 6-11
    • obliterated corner – section 6-17
    • lost corner – section 7-2
standard of evidence1
Standard of Evidence

Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) has altered the evidentiary standard for proof of a corner point:

  • “beyond reasonable doubt” replaced with “substantial evidence”
  • Substantial evidence = More than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance
  • Existent – Obliterated - Lost corner definitions use “substantial evidence” standard.
bona fide rights
Bona Fide Rights
  • 43 U.S.C. 772 – Governs resurveys by GLO/BLM, i.e., shall not impair bona fide rights
  • Bona fide rights as to location are based on good faith reliance on evidence of the original survey
  • Bona fide belief is not bona fide rights,

see 174 IBLA 239, 251 (2008)

2009 Manual Section 6-40

water boundaries
Water Boundaries

Chapter III – original surveys

Chapter VIII - resurveys

mineral lands surveys
Mineral Lands Surveys

Mineral leasing act surveys

10-77 to 10-85

Riparian rights – mining claims and millsites

10-201 to 10-207

Resurveys of mineral surveys

10-208 to 10-229

additional areas of clarification
Additional Areas of Clarification
  • Court of Competent Jurisdiction
  • Fractional Sections
  • Fictitious, Fraudulent, or Grossly Erroneous Surveys
  • Cardinal Equivalent
court of competent jurisdiction
Court of Competent Jurisdiction

When is the Manual (Federal rules) applicable and when should the Surveyor look elsewhere for the governing rules (State rules), i.e., source of law question

2009 Manual Sections 1-7 & 1-7(n)

court of competent jurisdiction1
Court of Competent Jurisdiction

Last Common Grantor

Owner of land when boundary line is created

  • Federal – Federal Rules
  • Non-Federal – State Rules
  • Some States have adopted Federal rules for some situations

2009 Manual Sections 1-7 & 1-7(n)

court of competent jurisdiction2
Court of Competent Jurisdiction

Land Status

  • Public Domain Land – Federal Rules
  • Acquired Land – Federal or State Rules
  • Non-Federal Land – State Rules

2009 Manual Sections 1-13 & 1-13(n)

fractional sections
Fractional Sections
  • What is a fractional section?
  • How do you subdivide one?
  • And are the procedures for subdivision of fractional sections by protraction different from the procedures for subdivision of fractional sections by survey?

2009 Manual Sections 3-108 & 3-118 to 3-124 & Figures 3-44 & 3-45

regular sections
Regular Sections

Relative to rectangular surveys the square mile, or section, is the unit of subdivision. The regular township includes 36 sections in all, 25 of which are regular sections returned as containing 640 acres each, subdivided into regular “aliquot parts,” based on midpoint protraction and intersections.

2009 Manual Section 3-32

irregular sections
Irregular Sections

Irregular sections against the north and west boundaries, except section 6, contain regular aliquot parts returned as totaling 480 acres with four additional regular lots returned as containing 40 acres plus or minus the excess or deficiency in measurement in each section. Section 6 contains . . . .

2009 Manual Section 3-32

invaded sections
Invaded Sections

Sections that are invaded by meanderable bodies of water or by approved claims at variance with the regular legal subdivisions are subdivided by protraction into as many aliquot parts as possible and then lots, as may be necessary to form a suitable basis for the administration . . . .

2009 Manual Section 3-106

1973 fractional sections
(1973) Fractional Sections

1973 Manual used the term “fractional section” in two ways. (1) a section with more or less than 640 acres, and (2) a section in which the opposite corresponding quarter-section corners have not been or cannot be fixed.

For subdivisional purposes; identification whether a section is a fractional section or not is critical

2009 Manual Sections 3-118 to 3-124 & Figures 3-44 & 3-45

2009 fractional sections
(2009) Fractional Sections

By law a fractional section is (1) a section containing outlying areas protracted as surveyed, or (2) an invaded section in which at least one quarter-section corner has not been or cannot be fixed.

The method of subdivision by survey of fractional sections is outlined in 43 U.S.C. 752(2)(cl. 3) and 753(cls. 2 and 4).

2009 Manual Sections 3-106 & 3-118 to 3-124

fictitious fraudulent or grossly erroneous surveys
Fictitious, Fraudulent, or Grossly Erroneous Surveys
  • Elements of and/or evidence of

2009 Manual Sections 6-58 to 6-68

cardinal equivalent
Cardinal Equivalent

Failure to determine the direction of each line with reference to the true meridian (cardinal) could produce erroneous results

2009 Manual Section 7-9

Manual et al. Websites

2009 Manual