Yesterday, Curt Sumner had NSPS treasurer Bob Miller on his radio program. [1] Apparently, Bob is the first in a series Curt intends to invite on his show to get surveyors better connected with their leadership and as indicated in one segment to illustrate that leaders are really just normal people who are willing to step up and serve. That part was good. So, when the program goes to archive, for those surveyors who may have missed the program, I encourage you to download and listen to it.

Despite the general positive tone though, Curt mentioned at one point the troubling situation in Arkansas where surveyors are being made to answer to the GIS department. I don’t know this story or what its implications are. So, I would gratefully invite anyone willing to do so to take a moment to explain their perspective as to what this all portends.

That said, I am going to go out on a limb and indicate where my mind is taking this happening.


Basically, I suspect the upshot is that GIS because of its precision is becoming a proxy for boundaries.

If so, then surveyors are basically being asked to come in and solve a few riddles here and there when there are gaps and overlaps, junior/senior rights, or whatever else that people much more clear on how to figure out where that high theory called a legal description actually lands on the ground.

As to the rest, I suppose we are looking at “sheer” bliss. This is to say that this sounds like it spells the abandonment of allowing surveyors to do the most important role that their profession calls upon them to do … protect property rights and the welfare of society.

Instead, we will have in many cases theoretical legal descriptions arbitrarily “cut” through land.

Instead of having people who know what they are doing in this regard, let’s instead lets allow sometimes rather miscalculated, mismarked, or mismanaged theoretical real property lines as described purely by legal descriptions dictate who owns what.

To Hades with the fact that a fence which both parties have recognized (and here I think we should clarify that this isn’t anything like the legal doctrine of Mutual Acquiescence [and Recognition]) ought to continue to be recognized as the boundary.

You too, I suppose ought to be the call to a widow gardener who has enjoyed planting and harvesting the land for years and years beyond any statutory period before an adjoining neighbor came in and decided to do a scrape-off and realized that they actually own more land than they thought before purchase.

But, what is going to happen when you find that the recorded property line cuts through the middle of a structure. Hey I know, just “cut to the chase” literally with a specially made rotary saw the size of a large pizza./p>

Please tell me my future call is off the mark here. The sky isn’t really starting to fall … is it?

[1] Curt Sumner is the Executive Director of the National Society of Professional Surveyors and has a weekly web radio show which you may find [HERE].