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Discussion in 'Surveying & Geomatics' started by clearcut, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. clearcut

    clearcut 7-Year Member

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    ....said that little voice in my head.

    1860, GLO survey subdivided township into sections, appears to have been a diligent effort in pre-Benson era.

    1948, first recorded retracement of area, finds all section and 1/4 corners. Proceeds to locate and monument C-1/4 and several 1/16th corners. Appears to be good work performed by RE. Note that at S 1/4 corner he finds an old post in stone mound on fence line.

    1963-1970, yes seven years. The BLM performs a dependent resurvey of this and 4 other sections in the area. USA owns the SW quarter and a 40 in the SE quarter. They accept all of the same monuments as the 1948 survey did, except for the S 1/4. At this corner they state: "no original evidence found". Plus they don't even acknowledge the existence of the 1948 record and its measurements to the found post and MOS. They set a corner at proportionate distance and also subdivide the section. At the C-1/4 and 1/16th corners they set monuments and don't even acknowledge the 1948 monuments exist.

    1970-1976 a series of surveys and deed splits occur in the east half of the section. All of the surveys reference and tie the 1948 location of the N-S centerline. Interestingly, none of these recorded surveys acknowledge the BLM locations or a 1974 subdivision map in the NW quarter.

    1974, the NW quarter of the section is subdivided into a suburbia. 1/3 acre parcels and lots of them with roads, streets, etc. This subdivision utilizes the BLM N-S centerline for its eastern boundary. The map does not acknowledge the existence of the 1948 survey, monuments or subsequent surveys and parcel maps reliant thereon.

    2017, Stupid me says sure, I'll survey your properties to 2 owners of lands split by deed in the east half of the section immediately adjacent to the N-S centerline. In the field I find that the 1974 subdivision on the east is well monumented and well fenced. I find that none of the deed split parcels on the east side are either monumented or fenced.

    At the S-1/4 I found the BLM monument. I then measured to where the 1948 survey said they found a post and mound of stone and found an old and well embedded mound of stone exactly where they said it was.....110' east of the BLM proportioned corner/monument..

    So, long story short. I am of the opinion that the 1948 surveyor found the original 1/4 corner and properly located the aliquot subdivision lines. Pouring over the BLM field notes it would appear not that the BLM rejected this 1/4 corner, but rather they somehow missed it both in the field and in the county's records.

    I've got my thoughts on how best to approach this issue. I also discussed it with 2 of my peers and got 2 completely different answers, neither of which follows my line of thinking. Considering this is California and not Utah, considering common law and Calif. case and statute law guidance, and considering my goal is to prevent litigation and undue process and expense while still providing the path towards clarity of title, my thoughts wander back to those words of wisdom often asked by one of my earliest mentors; "so, you want to be a surveyor?"

    As a parting thought, with the number of homes and parcels this tale of 2 lines affects, my interview of those most directly affected revealed no one knew there was any issue. Remarkably, this situation has existed for over 40 years with no clouds of title rising to the view of those owners and those who insured their land purchases.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    gschrock likes this.
  2. Kris Morgan

    Kris Morgan 7-Year Member

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    This is not different than stuff that happens in Texas. Use the original monument, show the other line where the USA flubbed it up, write a surveyors report and get paid and move on. We can't fix everything that this idea that the line may have moved (wait for it) may have happened but you're gonna need someone smarter than a surveyor (or Lucas) to bless that. So, in that vein, put the line where it is supposed to go
     
  3. makerofmaps

    makerofmaps 2-Year Member

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    Have the lot owners been occupying there lots with fences swimming pools ect for 43 years?
     
  4. clearcut

    clearcut 7-Year Member

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    I like the way you think Kris. My thinking is that a helluva survey narrative might just help people understand where the lines are and who owns what without any dispute or questions of title.
    You must be an engineer also?
    I jest, but an interesting side note. The 1948 surveyor was a registered engineer not a land surveyor. In 1982, a law was passed in California that there-ever-after prevented engineers from boundary surveying. However in this case an engineer got it right and quite a few land surveyors either got it wrong or failed to recognize it was wrong in their retracement work.
     
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  5. clearcut

    clearcut 7-Year Member

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    Occupying and or utilizing, yes, for the most part, but with few improvements of note.
    An interesting side note is that in California, to claim adverse possession one must pay taxes on the land occupied. In this case the lands on the east side of the n-s centerline are shown on the assessor's map to have dimensions that match the surveys and deeds of those lands. The lands to the west are shown on a separate assessor's map to have dimensions matching the BLM plat and 1974 subdivision map. Some might surmise that no one is paying taxes on that strip.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  6. Dave Karoly

    Dave Karoly 7-Year Member

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    I would be inclined to agree with Kris. The gap belongs to the NW quarter which is not really your problem, that is if I'm understanding your facts correctly.
     
  7. Mark Mayer

    Mark Mayer 7-Year Member

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    I'm still stuck back here....
    Can that be true?
     
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  8. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    I think that I'd want, first of all to be sure that there is more compelling evidence of the originality of the South 1/4 corner beyond the fact that the 1948 survey accepted it as such. What else connects it to the original survey aside from the assumption that if the 1948 surveyor correctly identified all of the other corners of the original government survey that some otherwise unidentified post and mound corner is almost certainly original as well?

    For example, are there topo calls from the original survey that the 3-1/3 chain shift eastward in the position of the corner is more consistent with?
     
  9. thebionicman

    thebionicman 3-Year Member

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    I also see the need to determine if the mound of stone matches the character of the original corner. Up against the feds the connection to the original is critical. Without it they wont generally mention a monument. It is also important to know if the feds still own the land controlled by the corner in question.
     
  10. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    One little detail that nags at me is that the post and mound was found along a fence in 1948. I'm quite sure that fence building practices were not identical to those of Texas in California, but if a survey of some sort was made when the fence was built (barbed wire fence typically dates from the late 1870s or afterwards in Texas and I'd think probably a good bit later in parts of California remote from the railroads), was the practice of the day to mark the line with pickets at some useful places along the line such as high points et cet.? With that in mind, does the location of the post and mound fall at a logical point for a stake for a fence line to fall?
     
  11. Gene Kooper

    Gene Kooper 2-Year Member

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    A couple of idle thoughts for your consideration, clearcut. First, I'd contact the new CA Cadastral Chief and have a long chat. The 1963-1970 dependent resurvey by the BLM was supposed to retrace the original lines. If a preponderance of the evidence shows that it did not, you should be able to challenge the position of the south line of the section and the aliquot divisions (erroneous position for the S1/4 corner) based on gross error. The conversation could be followed by a field visit with the CA BLM. They may agree that the post and stone mound mark the original corner. If proven, the BLM may decide to conduct a Corrective Dependent Resurvey. I suggest this since there are still federal interest lands in the section.

    Second, some lines may have been fixed by the actions of the land owners based on the 1963-70 BLM dependent resurvey and others by the 1948 survey (i.e. bona fide rights as to location). It may be that title lines and aliquot lines will end up differing. Since you are not in Colorado, I'll stop here.

    You may find some guidance in a pair of IBLA decisions. They are Longview Fibre (135 IBLA 170) and Hasenyager (176 IBLA 252). The latter case clarifies the scope of the Longview Fibre case. The Hasenyager case deals with a 1983 BLM Dep. Resurvey where original corners were later found. In 2010, a corrective dep. resurvey was done. This case is in Utah. Both cases are CFedS continuing education courses.

    Here is a link to the DOI Office of Hearings and Appeals Advanced Search web page. I found that if I post links to cases, they are only temporary. If you have trouble downloading either, start a conversation and I'll email them to you.
     
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  12. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    As a point of curiosity, would you say that the time scale of this review process by the BLM that you you suggest is likely to be less than two years or more than two years?
     
  13. paden cash

    paden cash 7-Year Member

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    Here's a typical dependent resurvey with federal interests in Oklahoma. It was approx. 18 months from the date of the special instructions to the approval of the plat. I'm sure the work load at what ever office to which the instructions were issued would be a big factor. And there is no telling when the ball actually got rolling on the "special instructions"....could have been years.

    I wouldn't hold my breath......



    bushresurvey.jpg
     
  14. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    Yes, I'd think that the time between initial contact with BLM office and requisition of dependent resurvey would probably be at least nine months, given what I imagine to be the universal bureaucratic inertia, and particularly so on items that require expenditure of funds. A year and a half wouldn't be completely unthinkable, I'd bet, with substantial resistance to the resurvey in the interim.

    This speculation is not, of course, based upon the practices specific to the BLM, but upon general observations of the speed with with similar organizations do not function when what would appear to be errors attributable to them come to light.
     
  15. paden cash

    paden cash 7-Year Member

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    I'm sure you could speculate, and be correct, that the BLM would "not function" as well as (if not significantly slower) than any other bureaucratic "soup sandwich" when approached with evidence of a significant error on their part.

    Depending on the nature and degree of the federal interests involved I would imagine the practical resolution would be to plow ahead with a private survey. The amount of time that could elapse from the completion of a private survey to a time that the BLM might actually notice and do something could be something utilized in defensible occupation, meaning years.

    The specifics discussed above are somewhat confounded and the resolve could depend on a number of factors. "Stepping in it" sounds like a good description. I probably wouldn't have enough years left in me to see something like that reach a final solution....
     
  16. Gene Kooper

    Gene Kooper 2-Year Member

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    In the Hasenyager case, the BLM initially ruled against the land owners. They had to appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. Once the decision was made, the BLM conducted a corrective dependent resurvey. The land owners filed their initial protest in May 2005. The plat was approved in November 2010.

    Another example where I did work in the section had a GLO dep. resurvey in 1940. In 1999, the county surveyor found the original corner set in 1870 based on the original bearing trees. The BLM did a corrective dep. resurvey in 2000 and the survey was approved in early 2001.

    I'm incurious to speculate on what the Texas GLO bureaucratic inertia may be.
     
  17. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    There is no particular secret revealed in disclosing the nature of bureacracies within which many public sector surveying organizations are nested. In a system set up so that there is no reward for "winning", the rational strategy is to play in order not to lose. Obviously the odds of losing are only increased by making definite decisions, so the longer one can forestall making a decision, the more the odds improve.

    Put yourself in the chair of director of surveying of some organization where you're making, say, more than $100k p.a. in your position and the only thing that will separate you from that paycheck and benefits is if you make a decision that annoys someone enough with political connections that can open the shipf sprinklers in your office. What is the rational strategy that you will tend to pursue?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  18. clearcut

    clearcut 7-Year Member

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    The BLM's involvement or the fact there are federal lands in the section may not have much impact on my clients and their neighbors. The NW and NE quarters are fully in private ownership and the resolution of this may not be dependant on BLM involvement. I'm not discounting it at this point but considering all aspects.

    Fences in this area typically do not have mounds of stones around posts every so often for fence stabilty purposes. We see that more in the volcanic regions nearby but is uncommon in this particular area.
     
  19. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 7-Year Member

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    Is the post in question a post in the fence or freestanding, separate from the fence? In the case where pickets were placed to mark a line in Central Texas, the stones piled around them were mostly to make the picket look more obviously recognizable as artificial, I think.
     
  20. clearcut

    clearcut 7-Year Member

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    The fence has since been removed and a newer fence is now in place at this location. But again, stones around fence posts are not common in this particular area.
    It is interesting to note that the BLM accepted many of the section and quarter corners in this area as being accepted by local surveyors and land owners, and in the county record and in harmonious relationship with surrounding surveys. Also the BLM did not as a habit call out rejected monuments. Unfortunately so, as it leaves the question of whether they missed it or rejected it.
    I have not yet seen anything to lead me to believe they had a reason to reject it. It is close to 2640 from one of the section corners.
     

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