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BLM > Arizona > What We Do > Cadastral Survey > About Survey Plats and Field Notes
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About Survey Plats and Field Notes

It has been repeatedly held by both State and Federal courts that plats and field notes referred to in patents may be resorted to for the purpose of determining the limits of the area that passed under such patents. In the case of Gragin v. Powell (128 U.S. 691, 696), the Supreme Court said:

"It is a well settled principle that when lands are granted according to an official plat of the survey of such lands, the plat itself, with all its notes, lines descriptions and landmarks, becomes as much a part of the grant or deed by which they are conveyed, and controls so far as limits are concerned, as if such descriptive features were written out upon the face of the deed or the grant itself."

These legal principles apply to subsequent deeds of transfer related to the official plat. The public lands are not considered surveyed or identified until approval of the survey and filing of the plat in the administering land office by direction of the Bureau of Land Management. United State v. Cowlinshaw, 202 Fed. 317 (1913). No subdivision are to be "disposed of" until so identified. United States v. Hurlburt, 72 F. 2d 427 (1934). Therefore, the field notes and plat must be examined to obtain the "complete" legal record.

Copies of Survey Plats are available on DVD by contacting us at:

Bureau of Land Management
Arizona State Office
Cadastral Survey  AZ-952
One North Central Avenue
Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4427


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