The Branch of Cadastral Survey is responsible for surveying all public lands in the United States.
- The rectangular survey system, also known as the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), was developed from 1785 to about 1849.
- Until 1785 all land descriptions and surveys were by the indiscriminate method of the metes-and-bounds system.
- The first surveys, using Thomas Jefferson's idea of a rectangular survey system, were done north of the Ohio River and south of Lake Erie.
- The General Land Office (GLO), under the Treasury Department, was created in 1812 to oversee the land surveys and sales of public land.
- The GLO was later placed under the Department of the Interior when it was established in 1849.
- In 1946 the GLO, the Grazing Service, the Oregon and California Administration, Alaska Fire Control, and others were joined to form the Bureau of Land Management making Cadastral Survey the oldest program within the BLM.
- The Public Land Survey System forms the basis for all legal land descriptions in the United States except for the original 13 colonies, Texas, Hawaii, and portions of Louisiana. These legal land descriptions are needed to meet the requirement that all federal land, to be sold or otherwise conveyed, must be surveyed and have a legal land description.
The Branch of Cadastral Survey responsible for surveying public lands in Idaho is located at:
Bureau of Land Management
Idaho State Office
1387 S. Vinnell Way
Boise, Idaho 83709
Field offices are located at Burley, Boise, Coeur d'Alene, Fort Hall, Idaho Falls, and Lapwai.
Stanley French, Chief, Cadastral Surveyor, 208-373-3981
Jeff Lee, Field Chief, 208-373-3984
G. Mike Dress, Office Chief, 208-373-4094