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IBLA-2012-152 Hillstrom
I just read your article about the IBLA2010-152 Hillstrom. I can’t say I would disagree with what you wrote. I initially disagreed with Rudy Hillstrom for about 3 months telling the BLM survey was correct. I originally started working for Mr. Hillstrom preparing a Boundary Line Adjustment along his west property line. Research is what finally had me doubting the BLM position.

The only issue that Rudy could protest at this point in time was the BLM was in Gross Error in the placement of their W1/16 corner position. That is a hard thing to prove when you do not find the original corner. As the surveyor, I uncovered a lot of evidence that the BLM did not find. The testimony to that is they replaced, I believe it was three, corners that had been set on the 2000 survey by proportion. All those reset corners were based on the 1911 County Road Survey.

An item that really doesn’t stand out in the discussion is the County in the early 1900’s had been scouting routes to the river to build a bridge. One of the original routes explored ran from the Black River northerly to the south line of Section 31, along the south line of Section 31 past the W1/16 corner location, and then northeasterly to the main county road at that time. At this time is when I believe the corner restoration would have taken place being common practice for the County Engineer to replace found GLO monuments with stones. The unfortunate problem with this is the County cannot find any of the notes for this route exploration. They have the route indexed and labeled on maps but the notes cannot be found.

I treated Shorey as I would have any other surveyor today. (If he had been around I would ask him why he thought the stone was the corner, it would have saved everyone a lot of time and money). He worked in this area, An Indian Reservation, and he knew the proper procedures for three mile method surveys. He knew how to identify GLO corners, he even did some work in a different part of this township recovering corners which BLM accepted. I had no reason not accept his professional judgment when the evidence was only 38 years old. This area was left alone survey wise, for the about the next 50 years until the 1980’s and much of the original evidence had deteriorated beyond recognition.

This corner position (W1/16) was used for surveys to set corners(surveys not recorded) and prepare deeds for the adjacent properties to the Hillstrom property on the west side. I found Iron pipes referenced on those legal description, which were prepared from the Calls on the County Road survey.

There are many other "issues" at work here that don’t come up in the survey. But the bottom line is if you can trace the monument back to the original, you have no problems. If you cannot (a lesson I learned from this) spend some extra money and have a lawyer write up the argument for the corner. I have been told by some this may have had a different outcome if the argument had been prepared per that advice.

It is a fun thing to talk about though. I know someday the County record will turn up to link it to the original but what if the stone turns up?
Jay Bentley, PLS, CFedS
Via the Internet

More on IBLA and BLM
Thank you for letting me interject a few experiences from a fifty year career in Forestry and Land Surveying on the Olympic Peninsula. As a resident of Montesano and later Hoquiam, Washington, I am very familiar with many surveys by both David and Charles Byles and became acquainted with some of their descendants. The Charles Byles survey compass was acquired from a surveyor grandson who donated it to the Chehalis Valley Historical Museum in Momtesano. I was a frequent visitor to the Grays Harbor Engineer’s vault and sometimes required help from Elwood Shorey, John and elderly Elwood Shorey and John Kirkwood, Sr. and his son Charles Kirkwood. They along with along with the late George Robertson were the only Grays Harbor County Engineers from 1900 to 1980. I am replying to the article cited above as I believe Hillstrom may be correct because the BLM was in over their head for thirty years among the splintered allotments of the Chehalis Indian Reservation. Their first survey was a retracement of a portion of the reservation boundary that was surveyed by George Robertson in the first decade of the last century and the BLM called the found corners "pipes by unknown persons."

One of my first surveys when I became a proprietor of a surveying business in 1972 was a survey on the Chehalis Indian Reservation. County Engineer records were consulted and the 1920’s work of H. S. Shorey as a contractor to the Indian Service was examined as he was authorized to re-monument any of David Byles’ fifty year old wooden posts and stone monuments or subsequent monuments of good reputation that had replaced the originals. My initial surveys were prior to the survey recording act but there were many deeds in Grays Harbor Title Company explicitly calling for allotment corners. Although they did not give explicit descriptions except in cases where a stone monument or iron pipe was a call, the deeds were evidence of remonumentation of Byles original corners.

In later years, the entire field book collection of private surveys by George Robertson was obtained by the Grays Harbor Engineer. The 1906 surveys of Robertson in Oakville and adjacent Chehalis Indian Reservation have been found to be reliable sources for relocation of many original GLO Section lines and Indian Land boundaries in the westerly portion of the reservation. None of this is mentioned in the research of the BLM. Rather, they accepted recent private survey records of local surveyors in Lewis County and ignored the work of Shorey and Robertson, both officials cited in General Land office and BLM law as the protector and provider of information after the surveys were completed by contract surveyors or BLM surveyors. Their records are recognized by all of the successors in title to lands surveyed by the Government becoming the jurisdiction of the county. This case disregards the official survey contracted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and in the case of the line between the City of Oakville and the Indian Reservation raises hell with private rights of adjoining jurisdictions.

The BLM neglected to use the exceptional work of George Robertson which I retraced and erased a longstanding "No Man’s Land" in the SW ¼ of Section 30, Township 16 North, Range 4 West from Grays Harbor County Assessor maps. I believe we found all but one of his precisely placed pipes including one in a front lawn and one in a pig sty. The Bureau botched up the retracement of the Indian Allotments followed by provoking a suit by a local citizen and his inexperienced surveyor who they buried in a mass of legal citations. [Note: There were 40 pages in T 15 N, R 4 W and 50 pages in T 16 N, R 4 W of BLM records that I examined. There are hundreds more they printed but an unknown number of pages that would be detrimental to their case and were omitted.] The fifty or more pages of George Robertson’s field work should have been the basis of the resurvey of Section 31. The BLM chose to use the botched resurvey by one of their surveyors while my resurvey of Robertson’s survey was ignored. They were covering up evidence they could not have missed if they had properly researched the Records of Survey in the Grays Harbor Engineer and Auditor’s records and Washington DNR files.

During a retracement survey of the Grays Harbor County ­ Thurston County Anderson Road beginning at S
tate Route 12 and running south in Township 16 North, Range 4 West and Township 15 North, Range 4 West we located the corners described in H. S. Shorey notes and corners subsequently located in a survey by his son, Elwood Shorey. One corner which Elwood located was David Byles original N 1/16 corner between Sections 10 and 11, Township 15 North Range 4 West. I found it about 100 feet west of the county road as extended to the river. If the BLM used this original corner there was no evidence on the ground of any persons having been in the vicinity since Elwood Shorey tied to it. There is no entry in the extensive survey notes of the BLM in their retracement of lines in Section 10 or 11 concerning this skewed line. I also found the line to be skewed in an earlier survey in Lewis County but they chose to ignore it in their field survey notes. (Plats 15-4W-H and 15-4W-J) The BLM chose to ignore the voluminous files of the Grays Harbor County Engineer, which are as complete as any of their neighboring counties due to the unique bond between the Shoreys, Robertson and the Kirkwoods. It takes time to pursue all the threads of the many road surveys which have changed names since the county was formed in 1857 and the BLM is not up to the job. They show that there was a nine man survey crew working on the last Weller survey which appeared to be correcting error on the previous six plats.

I have always been a surveyor among many who believes in the opinion of Judge Thomas M. Cooley regarding the role of the surveyor in retracement surveys. I have always been a dirt surveyor who would be just as happy lying upside down under a log with a mirror and flash light trying to read reverse scribing or digging through old records in a basement using a forty watt bulb. One of my surveys was vindicated by a reversal in State Appeals Court of a Superior Court decision by Judge John Kirkwood Jr. I note a problem with both sides in this case. Hillstrom chose his own surveyor to represent him, where a more experienced surveyor would have researched beyond the claim of a land owner and an attorney was more apt to be able to argue his case. Hillstrom chose a surveyor to represent him where an attorney was more apt to be able to argue his case. The BLM allows their surveyors to act as judges on the ground; they do not want field surveyors to research their project because they want them producing re-surveys in the field. In this work from 1980 through 2000, they did not succeed in their missions and have infuriated many Indian Allottees, non-Indian owners of alienated lands on reservation and owners of land adjoining the reservation.

In the history of this area, there has been a 150 year old period of peace between the Native American people who welcomed the homesteaders and helped them survive in the wilderness. Now the BLM has taken the side of a few tribal administrators who want to stir up trouble and tear the community apart. Fortunately the population contains many people of mixed blood who will not allow the BLM’s 19th century methods and mentality to divide them.
Richard T. Sterling
Via the Internet

The Longest Line
I just read Mr. Theberge’s article about the USC&GS survey crew’s triangulation endeavors around Mt. Shasta and thought it was fantastic. His writing tells the story of a monumental task with detail and amusing anecdotes. I had no idea that Jon Muir was involved; good details like this abound throughout the article.

Over the past 40 years, as I have driven past Mt Shasta, I’ve remembered reading an earlier similar story, published before American Surveyor and other similar publications were in existence, in the papers of an ACSM conference in the late `60’s or early `70’s. The earlier article mentioned an observation of 160 some -odd miles southerly from Mt. Shasta, but did not have the details of Mr. Theberge’s article.

I also enjoyed reading the NOAA articles about Mr. Muir and the survey from Mt. Shasta that Mr. Theberge mentions at the end of his article. Mr. Muir’s article mentions, in elegant detail, observing a field of white clouds lying below the top of the mountain and stretching for hundreds of miles. I spent several days in the early 70’s at a triangulation station on top of a mountain in southern Oregon in such conditions (beautiful by the way, the hills and mountains sticking out of the clouds reminded us of islands in the ocean) waiting to be able to complete the Electrotape measurements to my partners below the cloud level. We were able to make the Electrotape measurements through the clouds but could not observe the reciprocal vertical angles until the clouds dissipated.
Larry Imbeau PS (ret)
Via the Internet

"Obliterated" in San Diego
The destruction of survey monuments has taken place in city right of ways to some degree in the city of San Diego. I have also observed this is occurring on a far more wholesale level in other cities that do not have a municipal survey department to carry out monument perpetuation duties.

The requirement to preserve survey monuments is typical in virtually any public agency capital improvement program. But mere state laws and city regulations do not deter contractors from their destructive ways during the demolition phase of a construction project. Anyone who has been around a construction site during this phase can observe the "demo mentality" these guys have with their jackhammers.

I have stood and witnessed these guys immediately after they have jack hammered curb returns in order to build the new pedestrian ramps. When I questioned the foreman about the loose chunks of sidewalk still bearing the brass discs and scribed X’s that were set with 15 foot swing ties for perpetuating the discs, the foreman just sheepishly shook his head saying, "Well, we just had to extend the breakout further, since the sidewalk was cracked further away."

I have come across some city intersections that fell through the cracks; at one intersection only one of the four block corner discs had been tied out with a scribe mark. Maybe the city crew had intended to return the next morning to tie out the other three. But sadly, that intersection was forgotten. The three discs were then blown out by the contractor for whom monuments and contract instructions meant nothing.

Regardless of pre-construction meetings directing them to call the city survey department if they come across discs in the demo location that have not been tied out, these guys just want to finish the demo and get to the next curb return up the street.

The missing link seems to be public works department; where was the inspector before and during the demolition? The solution is one of enforcement with back charges that put a real consequence on not following requirements in the contract. Surely that could have an effect in managing the problem!
Dave Eisenberg, PS
San Diego, CA

A 263Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE