Traversing the Law

January 2006
I enjoyed reading Mr. Lucas' article and especially the part about the "art of surveying." I have found that this is the most difficult subject to teach new surveyors because I must first convince them that the numbers are not magic!

It is high time that we acknowledge that our measuring abilities have certainly become far superior to the earlier methods, and that it is the right thing to change the numbers to reflect the evidence on the ground. It is time for surveyors to become proficient in apportioning out errors, either excesses or deficiencies, and therefore showing the monuments at the corners rather than some obscure offset to the drill hole that may be correct if the numbers are held. Nothing irks me more than to find a recorded plan that references bound locations within a tenth or two, all in the same direction of "out."

I know that we each have a slightly differing hierarchy of evidence with respect to monuments and distances, but as far as I know, natural and artificial monuments govern over distance and bearing everywhere. The art of surveying to me means establishing the intent of the original surveyor, and I can tell you that I have never set a bound with the intent of it being a tenth out of position.

I agree that it is time to separate the technicians from the surveyors as to who is responsible for making the property line decisions. It is our responsibility as land surveyors to make the decisions that the courts have told us would be the "correct" location of the property and then stand behind that decision. Anyone can input data and tell us how much it doesn't match the information found "on the ground," but only a select few have the ability to make the determination that the numbers need to change to match what is found. I am finding that more and more professional land surveyors are becoming the type to show the errors found, no matter how miniscule, rather than reporting on the location of the property line.

Let's face it-our job is to control error to the best of our ability, but in doing so we have to acknowledge that our work is not error free. And really, to tell the truth, the monuments are the property corners (unless proven otherwise) and not an obscure, theoretical point one tenth away.

Thank you for the article, Mr. Lucas, and I know that I have rambled "off point" a little bit, but you did open the door!

Donald T. Poole, PLS


February 2006
In slight opposition to the views of Mr. Matthew Mokanyk, PS, PE, of Michigan, I submit:

I have given a few presentations highlighting a career in the surveying/mapping field for high school students. I incorporate a short historical background of land surveying, emphasizing the historical significance of land surveyors and their roles in the development of our great country. When I ask for questions, the interested students show equal enthusiasm over the raw-boned courage and sinewy, adventurous spirits that carved civilization out of the wilderness as those who are centered on "How much do you make?" I am quite sure that not one of the readers of this magazine will ever utter with [his or her] last breath, "I wish I'd have looked more professional." I do believe there will be a few [who] will wish they'd had more fun and adventure. Let's toast those whose blood runs hot in pursuit of both!

Samuel J. Clark, PS

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