In the March 2010 Professional Surveyor Magazine Craig Dylan published an article titled “A Long Survey” (add link). Mr. Dylan describes a GPS survey along the Delta-Mendota Canal in California completed by BLM Land Surveyors. The article on the use of the GPS is interesting especially the use of the GPS, GNSS and California Surveying Virtual Surveying Network (CSVSN). But as almost an aside he quotes the BLM Land Surveyor Tim Jackson on the time savings with CSVSN and efficiencies the BLM has gained in just five short years. The article also describes the benefits of capturing PLSS, property and right of way monumentation as part of these projects. The surveys found original monuments, identifying where property boundaries may need further survey work and even errors in places where reference monuments were used rather than the actual corners.
Through the canal boundary survey the GPS measurements found trends in subsidence, identifying areas at risk for further subsidence and compared past elevation observations to the new results. This information benefits the canal managers by providing information on where future infrastructure repairs maybe needed and where to watch for particular types of damage arising from subsidence.
Although not mentioned in the article, taking the results of this survey and combining it with other BLM and private land surveys to create a standardized representation of the PLSS that could be used by GIS staff and other land surveyors extends the benefits found by Mr. Jackson.
What if the results of this detailed and well research survey project could be rolled into county parcel mapping easily? The benefits would be extended beyond the source agency to the other agencies. Couldn’t this type of project be studied from a benefits perspective to create a financial case for the role of land surveys in improving decision making, improving the quality of public data sets and improving the public’s perception of public data sets? Isn’t the role of land surveying more than establishing boundaries and improving individual data set quality? Extending the results to support future aerial photography control and supporting infrastructure management decisions puts the land survey directly into the day to day business of decision makers.