Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
|Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:23 pm Post subject: Using GeoCommunicator Interactive Map and other techniques
|Using the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) patent search website is OK for locating parcels of land if you have the original land patent granted to the first owner. However, if you only have a later deed, there are other ways to find the land parcel from the legal description (Township, Range, Section etc.). The BLM also provides a utility called the GeoCommunicator Interactive Map as part of its Land Survey Information System (PLIS). [Note. There is a very similar version of this map referred to as Site Map.] It has different controls but essentially the same capabilities.] If you are not familiar with the numbering system used by the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), check the posting at Understanding PLSS Land Descriptions.
That map provides a large number of features which may be a bit confusing to use. The BLM is primarily responsible for 17 western states of the U.S. so some of the features do not apply to states like Missouri. In addition, some of the information has been removed recently. Various control buttons may no longer work as advertised and some of the on-line help is out-of-date or not applicable.
To bring up the map, go to GeoCommunicator Map. On the right side of the window is a frame with three tabs. The Layers tab is used to select the information to be displayed, When you start, be sure that ‘PLSS’, ‘Data Download Availability’ and its subcontrols ‘BLM’ and ‘Alternate Source’ are checked. The Legend tab is used to control the labeling on the map. ‘Township Labels’, ‘Townships’, ‘BLM’, and ‘Alternate Source’ should be checked. Finally, the Quick Start tab provides a brief user guide, much of which is not applicable for this application or possibly out-of-date.
Map controls are provided by various buttons, sliders, and boxes at the top, right side, and bottom of the map frame itself. Some of these controls are self explanatory. To start searching, it is best to zoom in close to the area of interest, such as Concordia. You can use the various zoom controls on the map, such as the slider bar at the lower right side, or use one of the search buttons at the top of the map. Having the township and range, the best to use is the gridded button labeled ‘township’. [Note. For some unknown reason, this button is finicky and may not always work. Getting it to work appears to depend on the steps used earlier when navigating the page. So you may have to use one of the other controls to get close.] If you manage to make the township button work, select the state and principal meridian. Then enter the township and range (number in the left box, direction selected in the right box, leaving the fraction at ‘Any’) and click on the search button. If the valid values are entered, a line should appear at the bottom. In this line, check the ‘Select’ box for the report that was found and click on the zoom button.
As you zoom in, the township boundaries and labels are displayed, as well as the sections within the townships. Eventually the sector numbering is also displayed. Then it is simply a matter of moving the display around in the map window until you find the appropriate township/range. Notice that you can adjust the opacity of the overlay using a slider at the bottom of the window for the best view of the map beneath the overlay.
As with the land patent mapping, smaller divisions (aliquots) are not displayed. You must visualize the smaller divisions on the map. Another approach is to generate a PDF file using the button at the type, print out the map and mark the smaller divisions on it. This may be the best way to pinpoint smaller land parcels in the center of a section.
Using Google Earth -
There is another website (Earth Survey) that provides a TRS grid on Google Earth. If you have Google Earth installed on your computer, you might prefer using that map instead. The utility can be downloaded from from the Earth Survey website and the site also provides instructions on its use. After it is downloaded, a lot of controls (check boxes and radio buttons) appear under ‘Temporary Places’ heading in the Places section in the left hand column of the window. Some controls are not available. There is no opacity control, but the section lines and labeling are less intrusive so it is farely easy to view the underlying map. Choices for the background map are limited (primarily satellite imagery with a basic roads display), but other features supported by Google earth can be displayed.
Converting Township/Range/Section to Latitude/Longitude –
Still another approach for locating a parcel of land is to convert the township, range, and section values of the legal land description to longitude and latitude values. Using the centroid value for the block of land, one can then type the longitude and latitude directly into the Google Maps input box and it will be pinpointed on the map. An easy-to-use utility fo do the coordinate conversion can be found at Earth Point Utilities. On the left of the page is a list of utilities. Select ‘Search By Description’ under the USA utilities. Enter the land description values from the pull-down boxes and click on the view button. The coordinates of the section are displayed in the right box below the button. Cut and paste the latitude and longitude of the centroid into the input box of Google Maps, press the search button and a green arrow will point to the center of the section. If you have Google Earth installed and click on the ‘Fly To On Google Earth’ instead, the map will display an orange box outlining the township and a dot marking its center. The purple box outlines the section with its centroid also marked. If you move the cursor inside the township box, its numbers are displayed. If you move on top of the section centroid, its number is displayed. Note that if you click anywhere in either box, the detailed values are displayed.