The work of today’s BLM Cadastral Surveyors is based on principles established more than 200 years ago. In 1785, Congress ordered the Lands of the vast Northwest Territory be surveyed and sold to generate revenue and encourage western settlement. The General Land Office (GLO) surveyors laid out the rectangular survey system across this territory, creating and marking 6-mile square townships over thousands of miles of diverse terrain, thereby playing a vital role in the growth of the United States. Original cadastral surveys set the boundaries of these lands and provide the basis for their legal descriptions.
Today, the BLM is the only agency authorized to determine the official boundaries of the Federal Interest Lands of the United States. Cadastral surveys, in general, create, re-establish, mark and define boundaries of Federal Interest Lands to facilitate the administration of the various Public Land Laws of the United States. Our cadastral survey staff also assists the general public, State agencies, and professional surveyor associations by providing access and interpretation of cadastral survey plats and field notes; and conducting technical cadastral survey training for professional surveying associations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
We established project offices to conduct surveys and monument the boundaries of National Park lands or rivers, the lands held in trust by the United States for Tribal Nations, and the lands on which lighthouses are situated.
Public Land Survey System Data-Sets Now Available
BLM has teamed with state and local partners to complete Public Land Survey System (PLSS) data-sets for nearly all of the 30 Public Domain states, including the 13 PLSS states managed by BLM's Eastern States Office. (Oklahoma is not yet complete.) These data-sets, in the national standard CadNSDI format, represent about 40 million parcels. The data provides the basis for parcel mapping, land governance decisions, and navigation of cadastral survey data in Public Domain states. The data-sets can be accessed at nationalcad.org.