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Land Tenure, Boundary Surveys, and Cadastral Systems


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Table of Contents


Land Tenure Territoriality Land Tenure and its Development Modes of Interest and Tenure in Land Conveyance of Interests in Land Transfer of Interests in Land without Agreement of Owner Land Tenure in Contemporary Society Legal Restrictions on Land Ownership and Use Restriction of Public Nuisances Land Use Zoning Subdivision Regulations Private Deed Restrictions Land Development and Use Regulations Compensation for Land Use Restrictions Land Tenure in the United States Origins of U.S. Land Law English Common Law Roman Law Spanish Law French Law Russian Law Dutch Law Aboriginal Law Tribal Law Origins of Land Tenure in the Original Colonies Origins of Land Tenure in Public Domain Lands Subdivision of Land in the United States Subdivision of Original Grants in the United States Informal (Private) Subdivisions Formal (Recorded) Subdivisions U.S. Public Land Survey Development of the U.S. Public Land Survey The Subdivision Process Measurement Standards Monumentation Field Notes and Plats Other Rectangular Cadastral Systems in the United States The 13 Original Colonies Florida Hawaii Louisiana Texas Significance of Original Cadastral Surveys Land Descriptions Types of Boundaries Purposes of Descriptions Types of Descriptions Writing Descriptions Description Plats Land Boundary Surveying History of Boundary Surveying Land Boundary Delineation General Procedures Evaluation of Evidence in Retracement Surveys Retracement of Public Land Surveys Water Boundary Delineation Origin and Evolution of Water Boundary Law Boundaries of Tidal Public Trust Waters Boundaries of Non-Tidal Public Trust Waters Boundaries Related to Non-Public Trust Waters Interpretation of Land Descriptions Cadastral Systems Definitions History of Cadastral Systems Juridical Cadastres Land Registration Systems Land Records Recordation Systems Fiscal Cadastres The Evolving Cadastral System in the United States Integration of Digital Indices and Geographic Information Systems Improved Public Access Future Directions Impact on the Role of Land Surveying

About the Author

George M. Cole is a professional surveyor and engineer with over 50 years of experience as a land surveyor. Beginning his career conducting hydrographic surveys of the Chukchi Sea as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, he has had a wide variety of assignments including participation in the nation's first satellite geodesy program, as the State Cadastral Surveyor for Florida, and as President of a surveying and mapping firm with projects in both the United States and Latin America. Recently, he has concentrated on surveying education with service as a visiting professor at the University of Puerto Rico (which was the inspiration for this book) and currently as an adjunct professor at both the University of Puerto Rico and Florida State University. He has made significant contributions to professional literature and is the author of several textbooks and numerous technical papers. He also has frequently testified on surveying matters before local, state, and federal courts, including before a special master of the U.S. Supreme Court. Cole holds a bachelor of science degree from Tulane University as well as master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in from Florida State University. Donald A. Wilson, president of Land & Boundary Consultants, has been in practice for over 50 years, consulting to groups throughout the United States and Canada. He is both a licensed land surveyor and professional forester, having conducted more than 500 programs on a variety of topics, including description interpretation, boundary evidence, law, title problems, and forensic procedures. Mr. Wilson has more than 200 technical publications in several areas, and has been involved with over 50 books, which include titles on Maine history and several books on fishing. Besides being co-author of Evidence and Procedures for Boundary Location and Boundary Control and Legal Principles, he is author of Deed Descriptions I Have Known....But Could Have Done Without, Easements and Reversions, Interpreting Land Records and Forensic Procedures for Boundary and Title Investigation. His latest title is Easements Relating to Land Surveying and Title Examination. Don is an instructor for Vector Learning's on-line professional courses and a regular presenter in the University of New Hampshire's Professional Development Program. He is part owner of and lead instructor in Surveyors Educational Seminars and a regular seminar coordinator for the University of New Hampshire. In his professional practice, Don has testified numerous times, in a variety of courts, on boundary and title matters.


"The book is an important contribution to the many professions that use, manage or regulate land, and it reminds us that we each may be quite good at our very small part, but that we should occasionally stop to take in and appreciate the grander views to understand what we are all working towards."
-Brian Nelson Burford, Licensed Land Surveyor in New Hampshire and

New Hampshire State Archivist, USA

"Wilson and Cole provide valuable insight into aspects of property rights that have received scant attention from previous surveying texts. The segment covering private restrictions, regulation and zoning was particularly relevant."
-Kristopher M. Kline, 2Point, Incorporated, Alexander, North Carolina, USA

"... a useful study guide for surveying interns and reference tool for licensed professionals."
-Wendy Lathrop, Cadastral Consulting, LLC, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, USA

"Don Wilson and George Cole are two of the most respected professional surveyors in New England and across the United States. Their new book Land Tenure, Boundary Surveys and Cadastral Systems is a tremendous addition to the limited list of dependable, well-researched resources available to surveyors and others who need to understand land tenure and surveying basics in order to more effectively perform their work."
-Gary R. Kent, The Schneider Corporation, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

"The authors bring an impressive 100 years of combined personal experience to bear on a topic that remains central to our understanding of the U.S. property system and how it has evolved over time. The book will be of interest to professionals, scholars and teachers whose work focuses on the spatial and legal aspects of property systems. I know that students will appreciate the succinctness of this book - many other books on land tenure and cadastral systems are well over 500 pages long!"
- Grenville Barnes, University of Florida, USA

"Land Tenure, Boundary Surveys, and Cadastral Systems by Donald A. Wilson and George M. Cole fills a serious abyss in the subject of land surveying. A review of the work's contents definitely does not relegate the volume solely to an academic environment, but is a needed reference for surveyors, title researchers, and the legal profession."
-Herbert W. Stoughton, Private consulting geodetic engineer, Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA

"...a good primary text for land information courses or land survey overview courses. It would also be useful as a secondary text for land survey courses."
-Surveying and Land Information Sciences, May 2017

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