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Cadastral Survey

Cadastral Survey

The Bureau of Land Management’s Cadastral Survey Program, is one of the oldest and most fundamental functions of the United States Government. Cadastral Surveys are the foundation of our national land tenure system; creating, reestablishing, marking, and defining land boundaries. In the beginning of our country’s existence it was a must to have a survey done in order to own land.

In addition to conducting surveys to meet Bureau of Land Management needs, the BLM's Utah State Office completes Cadastral Surveys for the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and other federal entities. Along with the growing demands placed on public lands, complex landownership patterns make the importance of accurate boundaries more important today than ever before. Clearly defined boundaries provide public land managers and the American people with essential information needed to identify rights and privileges and make the best land decisions. BLM's Cadastral Survey Program helps identify critical environmental management areas, legally describe lands for leasing or conveyance purposes, and private rights.

2009 Edition of the Manual of Surveying Instrustions

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working with the Public Land Survey System Foundation (PLSSF) to prepare copies of the 2009 edition of the Manual of Surveying Instructions (Manual) for distribution beyond the Federal Government.

For further information and availability, monitor the BLM Survey Manual website , at:

Thank you for your interest in the Public Land Survey System.

About Survey Plats & 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.

Not all documents are currently available electronically. Contact us at (801) 539-4001 to request a paper copy, or come into the office.


  Field Notes & Plats