Editorial: The Winds of Change

A 267Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Courtesy of Mike Pallamary, two new columns appear this month. The Curt Brown Chronicles will be excerpts from a book that collects Brown’s extensive writings. Pallamary’s new column, Angle Points, reinforces the critical need for us to reinvent our profession. In an upcoming Chronicles installment, you’ll see that Brown wrote a lot of the same things as Mike is writing in his first installment of Angle Points, except Brown’s comments were made in 1970! This is a textbook example of "the more things change, the more they stay the same." We think you’ll enjoy both columns. And we hope the readers have enjoyed the profusion of boundary surveying articles we’ve published in recent issues, in particular Landon Blake’s Footsteps column.

And as for the profusion of application articles in the magazine that deal with the measurement and positioning technology aspects of our profession, aside from the fact that advertisers pay for your free magazine, we have a reason for running them. Years ago, Joel Leininger told me that boundary surveying will never disappear because if it did, then people’s land rights would also disappear. But in our society, the concept of "the greater good" is sometimes used to overturn long-held rights, and in my opinion, boundary surveying as we know it might one day be included in this concept.

Perhaps many of you, like myself, have been uncomfortable with some of the boundary decisions you’ve had to make over the years. Because budget constraints didn’t always allow an extra trip to the courthouse or to the field to gather more evidence, at times I felt I had to pick the best solution out of five or six bad ones. Even so, I know that many of you thrive on boundary determination and would be happy to do only that. However, economic reality necessitates other kinds of surveying, so our application and new technology articles have always addressed those subjects as a means of suggesting ways in which you can expand your practice.

Overwhelming response to several of our recent articles indicates that we have struck several nerves. That being said, we’re already anticipating comments we’ll likely receive from Chad Erickson’s article about the BLM in this issue. I know many BLM surveyors and respect their work, and without a doubt, thousands of BLM surveys have been completed without controversy. But over the decades there have also been instances where the BLM has "upset the neighborhood" by ignoring long-held corners, despite the fact that we operate under the assumption that the original corner has no error in position. Fortunately, court cases and the greater good have upheld this assumption. Even so, attitudes that government surveys and surveyors are "above the law" fly in the face of this assumption.

Chad’s article and Richard Sterling’s letter to the editor, along with Justin Height’s recent two-part article, address obvious problems. In the Tepusquet case, for example, the BLM re-marked the corners it had set, and then moved them altogether. It is not our intention to attack anyone personally, but rather to bring poor practices and decisions to light and encourage folks to do what is right. And as always, we welcome comments from both sides and promise to publish all viewpoints.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 267Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE