Letters to the Editor

A Field Trip to the Airport
Dennis J. Mouland's article in the May 1999 issue was excellent (Guest Editorial, pp. 16-18). His synopsis of current social trends was as incisive as it was sad. I have held similar views for years but wondered if I was alone in these thoughts.
Everett Hinkley
via the Internet

Metes & Bounds
I have always been under the impression that any survey with calls of distance and direction could be classified as a "Metes and Bounds" survey. I based this idea on my belief that metes means to measure and bounds defines a direction such as southbound. Recently a respected friend of mine, a registered land surveyor, informed me that a metes and bounds description title could only apply to a distance and direction perimeter survey of a tract of land and not to a centerline description of an easement across a tract. Because both of us are rather Lincolnesque, please tell me who's right.

I thoroughly enjoy your publication, particularly the History Corner.
Tom M. McPherson, LS, PE
Katy, Texas

Your friend is right. "Bounds" refers to monuments, either physical or of record, circumscribing the property in question. It is possible to have a description consisting only of bounds, for example, "a tract bounded on the north by Smith's land, bounded on the east by Frank's land…" and so forth. On the other hand, "mete" is a Middle English word meaning "measurement." In the context of descriptions, metes refers to both course and distance, as both are measurements, and bounds refers to calls for physical monuments or calls for earlier title references, for example, "the third line of Brown's land." Although the term has enjoyed a considerable relaxation in usage in recent years, centerline descriptions seem to us to fall "outside the envelope."—JL

Letters to the Editor, May 1999
The letter from J. Henry Ditmars of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, in the May issue (p. 54) caught my attention. I, too, am finally retired after a good many years of fulfilling service. I remember running out a deed description in the late forties that described one corner as "to the center of the large snow pile." Needless to say, we had no trouble closing that survey. On a recent field trip for the local Historical Society, we were able to find original markers placed in the late 1700s marking the boundary between two patents in the Adirondacks.

I enjoy Professional Surveyor very much and would appreciate continuing to receive my copy. As you can see from the two addresses, I am a snowbird and avoid the snow and cold weather.
Frank C. Bohlander, LS, PE
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Caroga Lake, New York

Commemorating the Washington-Idaho Boundary Survey of 1873
What a pleasure to read the June 1999 magazine article about the Washington-Idaho Boundary Survey of 1873 (pp. 8-18).

When I retired from active surveying, civil engineering and construction 15 years ago, I pondered my retirement activities. For many years I had surveying opportunities to connect my surveying projects to state boundaries. I always enjoyed the outdoor activities of land surveying as well as the stimulating mathematics frequently involved. Many of my friends who liked to travel told me of their fabulous trips to the capitals of several states. My decision was not to visit state capitals, but to visit state corners.

Reading original field notes, using USGS quadrangle maps and reviewing Geological Survey Professional Paper 909 with its bibliography, I would head out in my motor home to search for and photograph the markers set at the corners. My self-imposed restriction was "no off-pavement vehicle travel." At the end of the pavement, I would walk to the corner that I was seeking.

Enclosed is a map showing the corners that I visited before arthritis limited my mobility. I am still at it, but slowly. The eastern United States is next.

It has been a great joy to review history, enjoy hiking and travel over our beautiful nation. I recommend monument searching to everyone as a retirement project.

Thanks again for the fine article—I hope there are more to come.
J. Milar
Boise, Idaho

I enjoyed the June 1999 article on the commemoration of the Washington-Idaho Boundary Survey. Hats off to the LSAW activities. The account of Rollin Reeves's tribulations on that original survey did not cover the sum of his trials. Less than four years after his Washington-Idaho boundary survey, Reeves contracted to mark the Wyoming-Dakota territory boundary. Summer heat and rough terrain through the Black Hills would have been difficult under any conditions, but an attack by hostile Indians, who made off with Reeves's notes and spare equipment, surely made life unpleasant. To top it all, Reeves contracted mountain fever, which put him down for another six weeks.

Reeves's 1877 effort is best written in C. Albert White's Initial Points of the Rectangular Survey System. The BLM, Wyoming and South Dakota surveyors commemorated his efforts in 1993.
Warren L. Fisk, LS, PE
Rapid City, South Dakota

Editor's note: The following letter was addressed to Curt Sumner, Executive Director of ACSM.
On June 9, 1999, the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology of the House Committee on Government Reform, chaired by The Honorable Stephen Horn, convened a hearing on "Geographic Information Systems Policies and Programs," which was one of the first hearings ever held by the U.S. House of Representatives to focus on geographic information systems (GIS). The testimony by Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, reinforces the concepts of a national cadastre system as created by the founders of this nation.

The past institutions of a national cadastre system have worked well, but now is the time for change. Just as the stand-alone computer has been replaced by an interconnected network of computers, so too, there must be a change in our institutional structure of land information management. Technology has changed the way business and government is managed. Secretary Babbitt in his statement before the Subcommittee noted that he had "been in a position to witness some remarkable changes in the way governments, academia and the private sector think about, manage and use geographic information and related technologies. And, in my capacity as Secretary of the Interior, I have seen firsthand how high quality geographic data can positively influence the management of our nation's resources."

The national cadastre system has lost its central focus because of the changing roles of governments and business. This loss of a central focus has blurred a single agreed-upon framework for national cadastre data into many differing versions. At no time in history have federal and tribal land administration seen so many different agencies managing their spatial data in a stovepipe approach. Pods of cadastre system responsibility and expertise are spread haphazardly across department and agency boundaries. A succession of reports from the Office of Management and Budget, National Research Council, National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Public Administration have called for consolidation of federal surveying, land title records and mapping activities. The professional land surveying, land title and mapping community has been aware of these problems for many years. Today modern GISes of private industry and governments have exposed the differences between each cadastre system and their lack of interoperability on a grand scale. These nonintegrated cadastre systems are creating unneeded conflict between individuals and/or organizations and dismantling the hallmark of a stable single national cadastre system. This fractionalization perhaps is a better design for the federal administrators but not for citizens, businesses or congressional oversight.

Federal land management should be the responsibility of the various federal agencies. With the advancement of instantaneous exchange of large amounts of data and new ways of doing business, a consolidation of land information functions would not hamper federal agencies and would simplify conducting business with the federal government. Land information of federal agencies should be the responsibility of one administration. From a review of public and Indian land information necessary to efficiently administer all federal and Indian interests in land a logical model would have these functions consolidated: first, survey prior to patent; second, issuance of land patents and other land conveyance documents; third, compilation of resurveys and subsequent documents conveying interests in land to and from the federal government; fourth, a real-time inventory of all themes connected with federal and Indian land; fifth, spatial portrayal of any and all land themes via digital format; sixth, one-stop shopping for all official information about federal and Indian land; and seventh, one federal government official with the authority to be responsible.

The economic value of a national cadastre system continues to be critical for this country and should not be neglected. The future of geographic information systems will help our country and its citizens remain strong and vital as we move into the 21st Century.
Donald A. Buhler
Chief Cadastral Surveyor
Bureau of Land Management
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

GIS Technology Reigns Supreme in Ellis Island Case
I enjoy Professional Surveyor. I feel I should comment on your cover article (July/August 1999, pp. 8-14). I would enjoy a note from the authors as well as any of your professional staff concerning this professional breach.

Castagna, Thornton and Tyrawski are not listed as surveyors licensed to practice in any state in America; yet they prepared and presented boundary data to the highest court in the land. Why does the boundary between New York and New Jersey not carry the importance that all the states have given to the boundary between any two private land owners?

Would I be better off dropping my LS, or are they above the law?
Kenneth J. Pudeler, LS, PE
via the Internet

Richard Castagna replies
The survey of the angle points in the Fort Gibson wall and that of the outside perimeter of Ellis Island were completed by professional surveyors with the Geodetic Section of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) (see page 10 of article). In addition, the boundary line was integrated into the Ellis Island survey prepared by the NJDOT. Louis J. Marchuk, LS, PE, testified before the high court on the survey work of the NJDOT. As a mapping scientist, my role was to show the Supreme Court the changes to the island from the 18th century to the present and identify the boundary line between the States, which was derived from an 1857 survey. Using GIS, John Tyrawski and Larry Thornton assisted in creating the digital boundary line from the 1857 survey.

Therefore, surveying and GIS both had roles in the Ellis Island lawsuit. The purpose of the article was to discuss the role of GIS. It is not possible to survey a historic low water line in the field because it does not exist anymore. Using control points common to the 1857 survey, a 1977 orthophoto of Ellis Island and the Marchuk survey, we were able to show the location of the 1857 low water line relative to the present island. Our data was given to Mr. Marchuk, who integrated the historic boundary line into his survey of the island. The survey was attached to the final decree issued by the high court on May 17, 1999.

The Editors Reply
As an additional note, courts have always been free to hear testimony from people deemed able to assist them in understanding technical matters. Boundary disputes are no exception. Although licensure probably accords a presumption of expertise to a would-be expert surveying witness, we know of no case where a court ruled that surveying experts must be licensed, and, in fact, there could well be instances where mere licensure, without additional experience specific to the issue, would be insufficient to express an informed opinion on a particular question. Also, licensure in most states only extends back 50 years or so. How did courts decide who to hear testimony from before that? Finally, maps have been used since time immemorial to assist the high court in deciding interstate boundary disputes.—JL

Surveyors and GIS
Some GIS professionals (like me) look at survey artistry and technology with just as much wonderment as many surveyors feel toward GIS. My personal solution is to read your magazine, which I always enjoy. I wonder if it would be possible to have Silvio Bedini declared a national monument and would be happy to volunteer in such an effort, under your leadership.

I offer several comments to the effect that your July issue was the best yet. I especially like Zimmer's "switch" to writing about GIS. His article did a great job of shedding light and reason on some topics that are often the subject of misunderstanding and contention (In Line with GIS, pp. 50-52). GIS folk and survey folk need to do a better job of using each others' language and understanding each others' objectives. Your lead editorial did the best job of illustrating one of Zimmer's main points: "accuracy is relative." That is, lousy absolute spatial accuracy most certainly was not a factor in the Chinese Embassy bombing. Improved GIS use certainly could improve the management and integration of the crucial information needed to support many (civilian and military) mapping applications.

Keep up the good work.
Bruce Westcott
via the Internet

Babies, Bath Water and Accurate Maps
I caught your recent Editor's Desk comments on government agency funding in relation to NIMA and the Chinese Embassy bombing in the July/August 1999 issue of Professional Surveyor (p. 6).

I would like to make you aware of another example of how the push for privatization of government services by organizations such as MAPPS has gone awry and is threatening to hurt the private photogrammetric industry. USGS, due in part to the efforts of MAPPS, is obligated to privatize half of its Mapping Division budget. In response, USGS has elected to deny additional funding requests to maintain the necessary staff and equipment for one of its most critical mapping division services to the private photogrammetric industry—aerial camera calibrations. USGS has, in fact, reduced the camera calibration service staff to the bare minimum (two) and is on the verge of eliminating the service altogether, despite the fact that no significant attempt to replace or privatize the service has been made. As a result, the photogrammetric industry may soon find itself without the ability to obtain calibrations for aerial cameras, which provide data essential for conducting photogrammetric mapping and determining/reporting aerial camera functional quality.

I personally conducted a letter-writing campaign to all aerial camera owners/operators to bring this situation to their attention and received overwhelming positive response for maintaining the service. USGS, however, continues to deny funding and threaten elimination of the service, and the MAPPS organization has done nothing to help promote the continuation of this critical service to the mapping industry. What is wrong with this picture?

I support the effort to stop the government from competing with firms like mine for mapping/surveying services that we regularly perform. I share your opinion, however, that there is a limit to this and that there are certain government services that are essential to maintain for public welfare, security, private industry and so forth and that cannot be readily outsourced. For our industry, not only is it "throwing out the baby with the bath water," it is sawing a limb out from under our credibility and ability to provide the everyday mapping and surveying services on which our clients depend.

I welcome your response and would like to see more devoted to this subject in future issues.
John Antalovich, Jr., PE
via the Internet

I just read "Babies, Bath Water and Accurate Maps." I found the last paragraph most interesting; however, doing the math, I come up short 6 people. Maybe we should ask Larry Irving whether they are unclassified. Leave it to a surveyor to check the math! You're doing a great job. Good luck. By the way, Larry Irving's article can be found at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/speeches/ntca120198.htm
Bill Nailling
via the Internet

Point to Point: Y2K
I read with interest Leininger's article on Y2K in the July/August issue (Point to Point, p. 44). I, too, am collecting plastic gallon jugs—my idea, not my wife's. I'm the Y2K guy at work. Our office also uses the 99001 or yynnn project number sequence. We had not planned on doing anything. Either no one reads the reports or they look at every line; the order doesn't seem all that important. It will be another 25 years before our numbers repeat. We started with 0001 in 1925 and didn't go to yynnn until 1942.

So much for the small talk. My real propose in writing is to point out that President Clinton signed the Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure Act last October, which protects firms from civil suits if they say that their disclosure is being made under the terms of the Act. There is really no reason for anyone to hedge about telling their true Y2K status, as long as they do so under the provisions of the Act.
Richard L. (Dick) Bland, PE
via the Internet

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