Editor's Points: Surveyors as Activists
In my short time at POB, I’ve learned that surveyors are outspoken. I hear it at conferences and industry events and in regular communications we receive. The presentation may be spirited at times, but it is supported by facts and logic. But what I have been seeing is internal to the profession. Do we apply the same vigor addressing issues externally?
That’s a bit of a rhetorical question. We can each answer for ourselves. While we do that, we can examine the opportunities we may be missing. A big one is where federal policy is concerned. Valerie King highlights that platform in “Making a Difference.” I will add an important observation to that discussion. When you talk to policymakers, keep in mind their constituencies and how you can help them serve those who elected them.
One of the best ways to get the attention of elected officials is to talk about job creation. If they can be associated with policies that protect and produce jobs, they are heroes. For most survey and geospatial firms, direct employment figures probably won’t impress. However, surveyors are critical to all of those construction and infrastructure projects policymakers like to attach their names to — because those projects do create jobs. Follow their lead and hang the name “licensed surveyor” on those projects.
And, when it comes to one of the most fundamental elements of the “American Dream” — property ownership — surveyors are also a critical element. Land management policy, based on individual property ownership, is a fundamental building block of the Republic, and that was well understood by the many land surveyors among the Founding Fathers — and they were some pretty major activists in their time.
Protecting individual property rights and facilitating the stewardship of the land would be difficult, if not impossible, without land surveyors. When I read through the requirements for the Nexus pipeline project for a story in POB, the role of land surveying clearly extended well beyond defining whose property would be crossed by the pipeline. There were repeated references to identifying and delineating habitat for protected or endangered species as well as wetlands and other features that might be highlighted, mapped and protected for historic or safety reasons.
If all else fails, you might remind policymakers their districts are defined by a combination of the survey work that lays out the property owned by their constituents and the GIS tools that help define their constituency by all of those key demographics they use to target voters.
Licensed land surveyors are an important part of preserving and protecting the personal wealth of property owners as well as being facilitators in the stewardship of the environment and good land management. Don’t be afraid to make your case and bring your agenda to policy makers at the local, state and national levels. Your state associations and national groups like MAPPS and NSPS will be glad to have you as activists.