Posted By Jesse Bruning on 3/5/2010 at 10:11 AM

Quick background on a really nice job I'm working on right now that I'd like to get some feedback from you guys on:

I'm a private surveyor hired by a government agency (state DOT) to "research and locate the marked section corners" within a 10 square mile area. This area is in four adjacent townships (section 36, sections 31-34 on the north, section 1 and sections 3-6 on the south), so I'm dealing with a township line, a range line, and interior corners. Approximately 60 section corners in total once you account for closing corners that were (or were not) set. This is very rural land, with large farm sites (approximately 300 parcels in the 10 square miles). All private land except for the DOT highway that runs down the township line.

On top of that, the townships we're in are in the 4th PM, but close on the 3rd PM, so I've got error on the east and west sides of my township, as well as the north. In places, more than 600' between closing and standard corners.

We've already put a ton of work into this job in research, as well as a good amount of winter-field work (i.e. no serious digging yet). I'm dealing right now with as much as I can get my hands on. Original field notes, Tiffin's 1815 instructions, the 1833 instructions, trying to get my hands on the new 2009 instructions, Robillard, McEntyre, etc. We've got it all on this job.

By going through the field notes, I've determined (as expected) that the closing 1/4 corners in the north tier (we've got 5 of them here) were never set.

Simple Question: As a private surveyor working for a government agency, in PLSS subdivided land which is now privately owned, what are my duties regarding the setting of these 1/4 corners of minimum control? Am I required to set them? If not, what is my response if I am asked to set them?

My immediate thoughts have gone from "I don't want to touch that with a 10 foot pole! I'd be messing with occupation lines that have been there for 200 years"... to "I want to make sure I get this done the right way, come hell or high-water."

I'm a youngish surveyor, doing the primary leg work on this with some reference/help from some more experienced guys. I'd love to hear some input from anyone who's done large-scale PLSS work like this. Keep in mind, I'm not doing a resurvey or dependent resurvey here, I'm pretty sure that what I'm doing would fall under the definition of "retracement".

Would love some feedback from you guys. Thanks.