From the Editor: The Role of Surveyors

Our cover story this issue is about an independent and innovative company that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Part 1 details the early days and the philosophy that drives the company. Part 2 will focus on technological advances benefiting the surveying industry. For example, SurvPC 7 has in-the-field network least squares which can confirm, before leaving the site, if your GNSS work passed the new proliferating rules such as 0.05 + 100 ppm accuracy on all measured property boundary GNSS points. It will also include image processing (CPC), accurate laser technology (LMD Division), Homeland Security projects, in-house GNSS RTK engine technology, feature extraction from pointclouds, STEM video games, and so much more.

Dr. Elgin’s article struck a nerve with me. Back in the 80s the company I was working for transferred me from the Austin office to the Oklahoma City office. In Texas, each time a survey was done, a new legal description was prepared. Title attorneys were accustomed to this and looked for gross changes in the descriptions. When I prepared a survey in the OKC office, I found existing corners which, as we all know, didn’t exactly fit the record description but were close enough to eliminate the need for a pincushion. The title people didn’t expect nor receive a new description but on my map, I plotted the as-found information with the record information in parentheses and a smaller font. The title company rejected my survey. When I pointed out that their own title company in Austin understood differing values, I was met with a deer in the headlights look. I’m sure panicked meetings took place. Long story short, I was forced to amend my map to show the record info in a larger font and the as-found info in parentheses and a smaller font.

In another darker, most costly event, the attorney for one of our OKC clients insisted that if the GLO plat called for a north-south section line to be 5,280 feet, then by golly, that’s what it is. I tried to explain how survey evidence works to no avail. I thought maybe I, being a newly licensed surveyor, was incapable of properly explaining the issues so I brought in my mentor. Same result. So, I brought in the company owner—both guys had a combined experience of many decades—again to no avail. Now, we all know this attorney was clueless, but the result of this madness was that we lost the client. I’ve often wondered how long it took this attorney to get wised-up.

In a new article by Carl De Baca in the Nevada Traverse, the newsletter of the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors, he details the current effort by libertarians to eliminate licensing in our country. Of course, we can see where this is headed: a GIS coordinate for every property corner. We bemoan the fact that young people aren’t going into surveying, but GIS and ubiquitous positioning will eliminate the need, at least in some people’s minds. What could possibly go wrong? For one thing, the loss of property rights on a nationwide basis.

Now that we have entered the Baby With The Bathwater Era, it’s difficult to plot a course for our profession. Perhaps you, like me, are bewildered by all the insane nonsense, but we need to pick our battles carefully, and fight like hell for our role, the public good and the future of our profession.

About the Author

Marc Cheves, PS

Marc Cheves is editor emeritus of the magazine. He has been a surveyor since 1963 and is licensed in five states. Since 1995 he has been a surveying magazine editor.