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Steve Nix

Understanding the United States Public Land Survey

By December 10, 2012

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Foresters and forest owners in the United States have an excellent chance that their forested property was surveyed using the  federally developed public land survey system. This survey system uses sections, townships and ranges (STRs) and was created in 1785  to replace a "metes and bounds" system of survey measurement. The old survey method  was supported  by a "fence, tree and rock monument" standard used in early colonial America.

The  advantage of measuring land using STRs is because that system is based on a very familiar mile grid and area is calculated in acres. It also is surveyed off stable, established  north/south principle meridians and east/west latitudes. Despite a political attempt to change to a kilometer/hectare measurement, this 200 year old survey system still survives and there is no apparent opposition strong enough to over-turn it.



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