Institutional Affiliate Traverse
National Society of Professional Surveyors
Member Western Federation of Professional Surveyors
Vol. 37, No. 1 Journal of the Professional Land Surveyors of Nevada 2010
Blunders Involving Railroad Surveying... See Page 29
Surviving the Economic Downturn... See Page 7
««««« ALL SURVEYORS ISSUE «««««
“To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is … the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind.”
—John Quincy Adams (c. 1846)
Who’s Who in NALS
2010 State Association Officers Lahontan Chapter
Matt Gingerich, PLS, President Mailing Address: P.O. Box 20522, Reno, NV 89515
Nv Energy Bus: 775.834.4567
P.O. Box 10100 S4B20 Fax: 775.834.4189 Glen Armstrong, PLS, President & Chapter Representative
Reno, NV 89520 U.S. Geomatics, Inc. Bus: 775.786.5111
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 227 Vine Street Fax: 775.786.5114
Reno, NV 89503
Li Zhang, PLS, President-Elect Email: email@example.com
NV Energy Bus: 702.402.2158
6226 W. Sahara Ave. Fax: 702.402.5064 James Bedard, PLS, President-Elect
Las Vegas, NV 89151 Stantec Consulting Bus: 775.850.0777
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 6980 Sierra Center Pkwy., Ste. 100 Fax: 775.850.0787
Reno, NV 89511
Ray Hebert, PLS, Secretary Email: email@example.com
Tri State, Ltd. Bus: 775.358.9491
1925 E. Prater Way Fax: 775.358.3664 Kevin Almeter, PLS, Secretary
Sparks, NV 89434 Wood Rodgers, Inc. Bus: 775.823.4068
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 5440 Reno Corporate Drive
Reno, NV 89511
Vern Little, PLS, Treasurer Email: email@example.com
VTN Nevada Bus: 702.873.7550
2727 S. Rainbow Blvd. Fax: 702.362.2597 Daniel Bigrigg, PLS, Treasurer
Las Vegas, NV 89102 Odyssey Engineering Bus: 775.359.3303
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 895 Roberta Lane, Ste. 104
Sparks, NV 89431
The Nevada Traverse Barbara Littell, PLS, Chapter Representative
6100 Ingleston Drive, No. 724 Bus: 775.626.6295
Terry W. McHenry, PLS, Editor, The Nevada Traverse Sparks, NV 89436
14710 Rancheros Drive Bus/Fax: 775.852.7290 Email: blittell_NALS@sbcglobal.net
Reno, NV 89521
Southern Nevada Chapter
Central Office Mailing Address: P.O. Box 95726, Las Vegas, NV 89193
Bart Dalton, PLS, President & Chapter Representative
Linda Armstrong, Executive Secretary City of North Las Vegas Bus: 702.633.1308
P.O. Box 20522 Bus: 702.257.6257 50 E. Brooks Ave. Fax: 702.633.1909
Reno, NV 89515 Fax: 775.747.6514 N. Las Vegas, NV 89030
Email: email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trent Keenan, PLS, President-Elect
Diamondback Land Surveying Bus: 702.596.3257
NSPS Governor for Nevada 4933 W. Craig Rd., Ste. 257 Fax: 702.933.9030
Las Vegas, NV 89130
Paul Burn, PLS
Heritage Surveying Bus: 702.240.6901
7866 W. Sahara Ave. Fax: 702.225.6902 Timothy Beck, PLS, Secretary
Las Vegas, NV 89117 Northern Frontier Surveying Bus: 702-419-4433
P.O. Box 426
Logandale, NV 89021
Great Basin Chapter Jonathan Wooten, PLS Treasurer
Las Vegas Valley Water District Bus: 702.875.7075
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 944, Elko, NV 89803 1001 S. Valley View Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89153
John Grange, PLS, President & Chapter Representative
218 Holyoak Drive Bus: 775-753-2240 Robert Carrington, PLS, Chapter Representative
Spring Creek, NV 89815 Fax: 775-753-7078 Robert Carrington Consulting Bus: 702.340.8649
Email: email@example.com 1273 Autumn Wind Way
Henderson, NV 89052
Dr. James Elithorp, Jr., President-Elect Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Basin College Bus: 775.753.2240
1500 College Parkway Fax: 775.753.2322
Elko, NV 89801
Email: email@example.com WFPS Delegates from Nevada
Dan Harmening, PLS, Secretary
All Points North Bus: 775.753.4142 Nancy Almanzan, PLS
1250 Lamoille Hwy. City of Las Vegas Bus: 702.229.6343
Elko, NV 89801 731 So. 4th Street Fax: 702.382.8551
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Las Vegas, NV 89101
Bill Nisbet, PLS, Treasurer
Chilton Engineering Bus: 775.738.2121 Matt Gingerich, PLS
421 Court Street Fax: 775.738.7955 NVEnergy Bus: 775.834.4567
Elko, NV 89801 PO Box 10100 S4B2O Fax: 775.834.4189
Email: email@example.com Reno, NV 89520
The Nevada Traverse
This publication is issued quarterly by the Nevada Association of Land
Surveyors (NALS) and is published as a service to the Land Surveying pro-
fession of the state of Nevada. The Nevada Traverse is an open forum for
all surveyors, with an editorial policy predicated on the objective of NALS
Constitution and Bylaws, Article II, which reads:
“The purpose of this association shall be to promote the common good and
welfare of its members in their activities in the profession of Land Surveying; to
promote and maintain the highest possible standards of professional ethics and
practice; to promote professional uniformity; to promote public awareness and
trust in Professional Land Surveyors and their work.
This organization, in its activities and in its membership, shall be non-political, non-
partisan, non-sectarian, and non-discriminatory.”
The publication is mailed to NALS members and similar organizations on a com-
plimentary basis. The Nevada Traverse is not copyright protected. Articles, except
where specifically copyright noted, may be reprinted with proper credit. Written by Terry W. McHenry, PLS
permission to reprint copyrighted material must be secured either from the author
directly, or through the editor. Surviving the Economic Doldrums
Articles appearing in the publication do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of
NALS, its officers, Board of Directors, or the editor, but are published as a ser- This issue of The Nevada Traverse focuses on a series
vice to its members, the general public, and for the betterment of the surveying
profession. No responsibility is assumed for errors, misquotes, or deletions as
of articles surrounding discussion of the continuing
to its contents. economic downturn, and methods of dealing with all of
Advertising Policy its ramifications. Matters such as business plans and the
(Effective January 1, 2010) review and updating of same on a regular basis, monitoring
of market changes and technology advances, new areas of
The Nevada Traverse is published quarterly by the Nevada Association of Land
Surveyors and accepts advertising. Contact the editor for submittal specifications practice, marketing professional services, balancing staffing
for advertisements. The rates per issue are as follows: with technology tools, and fees for professional services are
discussed by a cross-section of practitioners from around
MEMBER NON-MEMBER the country. This editor also throws his two-cents into the
PRICE PRICE discussions in the form of a commentary.
1 Issue Yearly (4x) 1 Issue Yearly (4x)
New Executive Secretary for NALS
Prof’l Listing $70.00 $165.00 $265.00 $525.00
B&W Adv. Sizes/
1/8 Page $100.00 $305.00 $295.00 $615.00
In late December 2009 the NALS Board of Directors
1/4 Page $175.00 $525.00 $345.00 $965.00 approved the recommendation from its three-member Ad Hoc
1/2 Pg (horiz or vert) $240.00 $730.00 $430.00 $1180.00 Selection Committee for a new Executive Secretary. A formal
3/4 Page $315.00 $950.00 $505.00 $1310.00
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
Full Page $350.00 $1045.00 $540.00 $1530.00
Center Spread (full
COLOR Adv. Sizes/Types/Placement
pages ONLY) Table Of Contents
Inside L OR R face $610.00 $1745.00 $890.00 $2225.00
Inside L AND R face $1020.00 $2940.00 $1530.00 $3875.00 The Editor’s Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Outside L OR R face $560.00 $1580.00 $840.00 $2100.00 The President’s Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
About the Cover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Next 2 Spreads Out Getting to Know Your NALS Board Members . . . . . . .5
from Center New NALS Executive Secretary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
1/4 Page $290.00 $770.00 $485.00 $1340.00 A Time to Re-Evaluate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
1/2 Pg (horiz or vert) $400.00 $1080.00 $610.00 $1615.00 Strategies for Tough Times - Weathering the Storm . .9
Full Page $560.00 $1580.00 $840.00 $2100.00 Kelo v. City of New London Results of Eminent
Domain Abuse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Cover (full pages ONLY Commentary: Four-Year Degree Program . . . . . . . . .12
except as noted) What’s In a B.S. Degree? Profession vs. Trade . . . . .13
Inside front cover $640.00 $1855.00 $990.00 $2790.00 Professional Listings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16-17
Inside back cover $600.00 $1810.00 $930.00 $2375.00 Sustaining Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
Outside back cover President Obama Promotes STEM Program . . . . . .20
(3/4 page ONLY) $580.00 $1740.00 $1000.00 $2442.00 The American Association for Geodetic Surveying . .21
The Boundary Conflict That Wasn’t . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Land Surveying Prices... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Deadlines for submittals are the middle of January, April, July, and October. Pricing Work to Survive...Interesting Concept . . . . . .25
Business cards of the members will be published in each issue unless oth-
erwise requested. Great Basin Chapter Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Running an ad does not imply endorsement of that advertiser by NALS, and Meeting Minutes, NALS BoD, 1/22/2010 . . . . . . . . . .26
the editor reserves the right to not accept ads which may be in poor taste or NSPS Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
objectionable to the policies of NALS. NSPS: It’s First 28 Years! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
Send ad requests to: AREMA’s Dirty Dozen: Survey Blunders Involving
Terry W. McHenry, P.L.S. Railroad Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Editor, The Nevada Traverse Southern Nevada Chapter Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
14710 Rancheros Drive, Reno, NV 89521
Phone/fax: 775-852-7290 Lahontan Chapter Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertiser Index/Website Hot Links . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
2 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Editor’s Corner continued from previous page
Request for Proposals (RFP) process was initiated shortly after through your local chapter of NALS, or at the CLSA/NALS 2010
it was learned that Executive Services Plus, Inc. would not be Joint Conference to be held in Reno, Nevada at the Silver Legacy
renewing its contract with NALS for 2010. Resort and Casino, February 27 through March 3, 2010.
The new Executive Secretary is Linda Armstrong of Reno, An individual copy of the new Manual available through the
Nevada. Linda comes to us with very high recommendations, PLSS Foundation will be $125 per copy, up to 9 copies; after that
and an excellent background to service the needs of NALS. She amount there are discounts available depending on the quantity
was selected out of four responses to the RFP, from an initial desired.
distribution of seven. The committee interviewed two of the four
respondents and selected Linda as the best candidate. For those land surveyors wanting to know something of the
nature and extent of changes from the 1973 edition to the new
Please see Page 6 for an interview with Linda by Li Zhang, 2009 edition, you may Google:
President-Elect for 2010. Welcome aboard Linda! BLM Manual of Instructions 2009
Click on “the Next Edition 2009”
Railroad Monumentation Preservation Legislation Click on “Intro. to the Next Edition”
In a recently received NSPS Update from President John This will allow one to select and view either individual videos
Matonich, he reports having received a communication from or the full complement of 16 videos lasting a total of 2:31 hours,
a group of land surveyors in Texas that have made significant where BLM employees explain the scope and changes of the new
progress on the subject of railroad monumentation preservation Manual.
through one of their U.S. Senators. This Senator has directed
her staff to research the NSPS Railroad Monumentation
Preservation language and advise whether it can be included
in the legislation on the re-authorization of the transportation
bill being developed on Capitol Hill. This would be a significant
move forward for this initiative, and it is consistent with a
conversation Curt Sumner of ACSM, Bob Church, of the Illinois
Professional Land Surveyors Association and John Matonich of
NSPS recently had with an Undersecretary of Transportation.
The Secretary felt this is exactly where the proposed legislation
should go in order to benefit fully the real property owners
across the country.
Readers may recall the two commentaries which appeared Jerry Juarez, PLS, of US Geomatics, Inc., and Dave Morlan of the Nevada BLM,
in the pages of The Nevada Traverse regarding the U.S. holding the new BLM Manual of Surveying Instructions 2009, on the occasion of
Supreme Court’s decision in 2005 on Kelo v. City of New London the unveiling ceremony September 24, 2009 at the U.S. Department of the Interior,
(Connecticut), involving eminent domain. For reference these
were: Eminent Domain – Has the Sovereign Gone Too Far?,
Vol. 32, No. 4, 2005; and Kelo v.City of New London Revisited,
Vol. 34, No. 1, 2007. There appeared in the Wall Street Journal,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, an article entitled Pfizer and
Kelo’s Ghost Town. This article reports on the current status
of fallout from the Kelo decision, and demonstrates the folly and
long term damages that can result from eminent domain abuses. President’s
For a synopsis of this latest turn of events see Page 10 herein.
BLM Manual of Instructions 2009
Through an arrangement between the Bureau of Land by Matt Gingerich, PLS
Management (BLM) and the American Congress on Surveying
and Mapping (ACSM), the New Edition of the Manual of
Surveying Instructions 2009, will be made available beginning
in 2010 through the ACSM eStore. Some individual state land
surveying societies have also made bulk purchase arrangements
in order to offer the Manual to their members at discounted
C hange was certainly the theme for 2009. In addition
to the world outside of our profession, we saw a fair
amount that had an impact on us: revisions to Nevada
Administrative Code, a new BLM manual, and a new Executive
The Nevada Association of Land Surveyors (NALS) has ordered Secretary for our organization. Our profession has always
100 of the new manuals and will be making these available to been dynamic. As a result, we are extremely adept at facing
members for a cost of $80 each, and to non-members for a cost challenging and changing times with flexibility and optimism.
of $100, while supplies last. You may contact the NALS Central
Office to pre-pay your manual order. The new manuals should be NALS, fittingly, ended last year with a strategic planning
available in early February. Manuals ordered may be picked up CONTINUED NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 3
The President’s Report continued from previous page
meeting which focused on goals for the next five years. As your this scholarship is another goal for 2010. We will continue to
2010 NALS president, it is my goal to keep the momentum grow these funds from the proceeds of the scholarship auction
moving forward as my predecessors have fostered, and have at the annual conference. This program, together with Trig-
some fun doing it. Here are a few of the goals last year’s Star, will continue to attract students to our profession and
executive committee set forth at our strategic planning meeting provide support to high quality young people pursuing their
held at Lake Tahoe. education in land surveying.
Our first goal was the challenge of finding a new Executive One of our bigger goals lies in bringing back a lobbyist for
Secretary and the role this vital position would play in our the 2011 Nevada Legislature. Legislative representation has
association. The Executive Committee was open minded been a long tradition of NALS. We have budgeted seed money
and looked at ways to reduce the cost associated with in 2010 to support this plan and the committee is currently
this important position. We have redirected some of the working on completing guidelines for this essential committee.
responsibilities of Executive Secretary to the Board, which will
reduce the scope of the Executive Secretary’s work load. One The strategic planning meeting was time well spent. We are
example is that the Secretary will keep the minutes at the all committed to achieving each of the goals outlined. I believe
Board meetings, which will limit the need for the Executive consistency and communication of the Board helps keep the
Secretary at the Board meetings. This change and others momentum moving as each Board member moves through the
will enable us to reduce the cost of the service and freeze the chairs.
membership cost at the 2009 level.
I really appreciated the time and input from the Board members
Communication is always of the utmost importance in the that attended (Mark Morberg, Nancy Almanzan, Li Zhang, Ray
continued success of our association. Another goal set forth is Hebert, Vern Little, and Bart Dalton). I will add the notes from
to maintain the NALS website. The website has been a great the meeting to the NALS website, and if you have any questions
tool in communicating information to the membership. We never hesitate to call me. I would also like to recognize and
will continue to keep the site up-to-date. In addition, I plan to thank Nancy Almanzan for her unfaltering leadership
send out a monthly email updating you on issues affecting our throughout the past few years while serving our organization.
organization. She did a fantastic job filling the void without an Executive
Secretary this last month, and has made the transition seamless.
The NALS/NSPS Scholarship Endowment has been a huge She has served as conference manager the past two years and
success. We have awarded a number of scholarships and will continue to serve in that role until 2011.
tuition reimbursements over the past few years. Preserving
Our Commitment to Quality
Will Always be Our #1 Goal
GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS
2175 Green Vista Dr. 4011 W. Cheyenne Ave. 88 Inverness Circle East
Suite 207 Suite B Suite B103
Sparks, Nevada 89431 No. Las Vegas, Nevada 89032 Englewood, CO 80112
Tel: 775-673-6000 Tel: 702-646-1732 Tel: 303-792-5510
Fax: 775-673-6010 Fax: 702-646-2050 Fax: 303-792-5512
4 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
About the Cover Getting to Know
by Terry W. McHenry, PLS
The cover photo was taken on December 18, 2009 by Terry
Your NALS Board
McHenry. The scene is looking west toward Reno, Nevada
from the Sparks, Nevada train station and switching yard Members
control tower, the building in the right foreground. The high-
rise building seen behind the train station is John Ascuaga’s
Nugget Hotel and Casino in Sparks.
The double tracks are the Union Pacific Railroad’s main line
between San Francisco, California and Chicago, Illinois.
Efforts on the part of land surveyors across the country are
being brought to bear on the concern of loosing railroad
monumentation, principally in the form of trackage, which
often serves as the main if not only source of evidence for
locating railroad right-of-way lines. Leading the charge in
this effort on the national level is the American Congress on
Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), though legislative proposals
on Capitol Hill.
It is evident that land surveyors do indeed have a need to
conduct surveying on railroad property, more so in some parts
of the country than others, but nevertheless the need arises.
Few are the land surveyors who have not had at least some Left to right: Robert Carrington, PLS, So. Nev. Chapter Rep.; Ray Hebert, PLS, State
occasions to conduct surveying operations on or abutting Secretary; Trent Keenan, PLS, So. Nev. Chapt. President-Elect & Chapt. Rep.; Vern
Little, PLS, State Treasurer; Li Zhang, PLS, State President-Elect; Matt Gingerich,
railroad rights-of-way. Besides safety issues and permissions PLS, State President; Barbara Littell, PLS, Lahontan Chapt. Rep.; John Grange,
to encroach upon railroad properties, there are the technical PLS, Great Basin Chapt. President & Chapt. Rep.; Bart Dalton, PLS, So. Nev. Chapt.
matters that are unique to railroad surveying. President & Chapt. Rep.; Glen Armstrong, PLS, Lahontan Chapt. President & State
Rep.(not in photo)
Our cover photo provides the segue into an excellent article
on railroad surveying in this issue of The Nevada Traverse. It Editor’s Note: We begin a new column with this issue of The
covers safety, procedural, permissions and technical surveying Nevada Traverse, helping members to know their NALS Board
advice in how to avoid blunders in conducting railroad of Directors.
surveys. Entitled AREMA’S Dirty Dozen: Survey Blunders
Involving Railroad Properties by Michael G. Buettner, the The Nevada Traverse has interviewed the newest
article is taken from Ohio Surveying News, with permission. member of the Board of Directors, Vernon C. Little,
While a few of the twelve common blunders discussed you will CFedS, PLS, RLS, WRS, who assumes the position
probably recognize, I venture to say there will be at least some of Treasurer for 2010.
in this list you didn’t know. See Page 29.
Traverse: How long have you been surveying, and when did you
become a Professional Land Surveyor?
I started out surveying by attending CalPoly Pomona in
their Civil Engineering Program that has an emphasis
on Surveying. After about a year there, I transferred
to Fresno State that had a full program in Surveying
Engineering. I graduated from Fresno State in 1994,
and have been surveying since then. I became licensed
in Nevada in June of 1999.
Traverse: For what company do you work, how long have you
been with this firm, and what is your position?
I have been working for VTN in Las Vegas for almost 15
years, less a 6 month sabbatical in the Seattle area. I am
a principal in the firm.
Traverse: Do you concentrate in any particular specialty of the
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 5
Get to Know... continued from previous page
For a long time I was working on land development
projects, however like most surveyors, I am working in
New NALS Executive
other areas. Currently I am working on ALTA surveys,
boundary, and public works projects. Secretary
Traverse: Have you lived anywhere else before Nevada?
No, but I have enjoyed all of my visits to Reno, Elko, Ely,
Pioche, and the Tahoe area.
Linda Armstrong has joined the
Traverse: What other jobs, if any, have you worked before Nevada Association of Land
becoming a Land Surveyor? Surveyors as the new Executive
Secretary, effective January of this
In high school I worked at the Santa Cruz Beach year. Linda has over ten years of
Boardwalk, as a ride operator on the Giant Dipper, and experience in the administrative
at various unskilled jobs. assistant profession. Her
responsibilities have included
Traverse: Who or what inspired you towards the profession of
Land Surveying? managing schedules, billing and
creating financial reports, to name
I started out in Civil Engineering in College and a few. Prior to accepting the
enjoyed the surveying classes so much that I changed Executive Secretary position with
schools and majors. Linda Armstrong NALS, Linda spent eight years as
an Administrative Assistant for
Traverse: What do you think are the greatest immediate and the Director of Public Works for the City of Reno. During her
future threats to the Land Surveying Profession? tenure with the City of Reno, Linda was also given a unique
opportunity to provide Administrative Secretary services
The immediate threat to land surveying is the recession,
to one of the city’s largest and highly successful capital
forcing people to find occupations and professions other
than land surveying. It depletes the base of current and improvement projects – the ReTRAC Construction project.
future surveyors, members of NALS, and the support Linda was involved in accounts receivable and payable for
of surveying as a profession. One of the future threats all contractors, reporting to the city council on a monthly
I see is the desire of some to return to treating land basis, and also reporting to the Federal Government, the
surveying as a trade rather than a profession. Union Pacific Railroad and community liaison groups on
an as needed basis. During this assignment, Linda had the
Traverse: From where can support for the profession be gained, opportunity to work with Land Surveyors, Engineers and
now and in the future?
Contractors in their fast paced and demanding environment.
Support has to come from licensed professionals,
professional organizations, and the higher education Prior to her successful career with the City of Reno, Linda
community. worked for the Customer Services Division of AT&T
Broadband Services in Reno as their customer support and
Traverse: What do you feel NALS can and should be doing to administrative secretary. In this position, Linda handled
aid in this support and to suppress these threats? over 100 customer calls daily, assisted general managers and
field operations supervisors with dispatched and scheduled
Support higher education, continuing education, and personnel, and performed duties as an accounts payable clerk.
the licensing requirements that have been worked on
so hard on to establish.
Linda and her husband, Glen Armstrong, PLS, NALS
Traverse: Would you tell us a little about your family? Lahontan Chapter President for 2010, live in the Reno area
with their son, Sylas. Linda is a certified yoga teacher and in
My wife’s name is Katherine, and our 3 year old son’s her spare time, she enjoys hiking and skiing.
name is George; we have 3 dogs and a cat.
With Linda’s extensive background in the administrative
Traverse: How do you enjoy spending your free time? assistance area, she will transition into the Executive
Secretary position for our association very well. Linda,
I enjoy camping, hunting, fishing, and hacking the
welcome to NALS! We look forward to working with you!
white ball around. As a family, we enjoy going to college
football games, and an occasional minor league baseball
game. I also keep busy with home improvement
projects around the house. It seems like I am at Home
Depot at least once a week.
6 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
section, and faithfully review and read the national surveying
periodicals. Of course, membership in the Nevada Association
of Land Surveyors (NALS) and the National Society of
A Time to Professional Surveyors (NSPS), with receipt of their journals,
should keep one abreast of the profession and the economy’s
Re-Evaluate? Historically, the majority of land surveyors have tended
to focus on the technical and regulatory/legal side of their
by Terry W. McHenry, PLS practice, placing less of an emphasis on the business side.
Today, market economic fluctuations coupled with technology
advances mandate a watchful eye toward preparedness
Introduction measures and opportunities for new or expanded areas of
practice. A professional services firm is after all a business,
With the extended and seemingly continuing economic along with its obligations toward public welfare matters.
downturn, many land surveyors have seized the opportunity However, without business acumen the services offered cannot
brought about by additional time from previously hectic be sustained.
schedules to review and re-evaluate their practice. For some,
this was done one or more years ago; for others, more recently. Nitch markets that may have served a firm well in prior
Sadly, for a few it has come too late, if at all. The reality is that years may no longer be viable today from a purely business
the economic climate seems to have drifted into the doldrums, perspective. For example, those markets may have waned due
with scant few encouraging signs of rebounding – at least for to client reactions to the changing economy. Driven by market
the present quarter of 2010, and for the foreseeable future. Of economics, clients may have revamped their business focus, or
course the impact of this economic turn of events has been felt perhaps have restructured their specifying of the information
by virtually all businesses, not just land surveying and other of and data to support their needs. They too are trying to survive,
the technical professions. and thus having to make changes to do so. No one can deny
that the economy of scale for data acquisition has evolved from
Business … and the Plan the more traditional means, and this has been an on-going
process for decades as technology continues to accelerate. A
It is a given fact that any professional services firm requires recent prime example of this is found in the proliferation of
a steady cash flow to survive. The question that must be digital scanning instrumentation, with its advancements and
asked is should such a firm, while caught up in the throws of expanded applications.
a good economy, with presumably high client demand, put off
a program of regular re-evaluation of its business plan? The Staffing and Technology
answer of course is no.
The age-old question of the optimum staffing complement
It has been said that the only certainty with change is that once again comes to the forefront. As owners and managers
change is certain. The economy, whether good or bad, is no deal with economic concerns, they must attempt to maximize
exception to this axiom. When one considers all the factors technology solutions against staffing, and the learning curve
which affect a professional services firm’s bottom line – the associated with implementation of new technology. This
economy, availability of trained and responsible technicians, is a fine balance that must consider return on investment
continuous technological advances, regulatory and legislative (ROI) components such as financing, training, potential for
enactments and revisions, regional market profile shifts, to application as a percent of total receivables, regional demand
name some – the need for revisiting the business plan on and competition, retention of trained staff, and billing
a regular basis becomes evident, even in times of a strong structure for new technology implementation.
economy. Moreover, those professionals who practice in the
public or quasi-public sectors are today rarely immune from All but the smallest of firms are dependant on a contingent
changing conditions, economic or otherwise. of reliable, trained and, hopefully, stable technicians. This
traditional paradigm, however, may need to be revisited given
An eye constantly on the heartbeat of the profession, and any the current conditions – at least for some firms. A cooperative
factors which impact it or its allied fields, is the best approach system of a shared technician pool for a given region has been
toward ensuring against being blind sighted. The goal should successful in at least some cases. Capable, known and trained
be to discern the signs of impending change and begin to technicians servicing multiple firms as work load demands
implement course corrections before the change fully hits. offers solutions for both those firms not needing full time
A business plan with contingency options built into it, and staffing, and for the technicians themselves, who desire more
periodically revised and updated, is one way of preparing for than part-time work.
the inevitability of change, and of embracing it as the signs
begin to appear. Regular trends tracking is another method of Fees
preparing for change. For the technical professions, two key
areas of importance for tracking trends are market economics Of all the factors of consideration in changing economic
and technological advances, both of which it seems are conditions, it seems that too often land surveyors have first
constantly in flux. looked to their fee structure to solve the concern of a limited
work load. The idea that a continuing cash flow must be
My suggestion would be to subscribe to the Wall Street maintained (which, in itself is valid), even if it means adjusting
Journal, regularly read it and the local newspaper’s business
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 7
A Time to Re-Evaluate? continued from previous page
fees to compete for work, has been an all too common mistake. any wonder that most do not understand the profession’s role
First of all, it has never been proven that reducing fees in society? How can this problem be remedied?
guarantees more work. More importantly, fee competition for
any reason amounts to bidding for work, which is not befitting Exposure and education can come in a number of forms.
of those offering professional services. And, it is illegal. It Speaking engagements can be sought through contacting
does not provide the public with the level of protection that your local Board of Realtors, Title Companies, the Local
our qualification, licensing and regulatory processes have Bar Association, American Institute of Architects (AIA),
contemplated. Instead, professional services are to be secured International Right of Way Association (IRWA), National
through qualifications based selection procedures. When was Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Geographic
the last time the medical or legal professions engaged in fee Information Societies, and others. Many of these organizations
reduction for purposes of securing more patients or more have local chapters which hold meetings and conventions, or
clients? local conferences (just like surveyors do). Most organizations
also publish a journal or newsletter, in which the land surveyor
Marketing Professional Services could submit an article of interest to the membership, and
use it as an opportunity for education about the role of land
As an alternative to fee adjusting, initiate a concerted effort surveyors, while at the same time achieving exposure for
toward making the public aware of land surveyors and how yourself and the services offered by your firm.
their unique services benefit society. A huge part of this is to
educate society on specifically what the land surveyor’s role Join a civic or community service organization at the local level
is. It still amazes me how many people today do not know to achieve exposure, and take advantage of a forum to educate
anything of the function the professional land surveyor serves. people about the important role of the land surveyor. Perhaps
For many who do know, there is often the need to educate you could showcase a recent project in the community in which
concerning the distinction between retaining professional level you provided the surveying for a successful completion. Or
services and hiring a trade or craft person. The cause of this you could discuss a surveying related problem in your area,
lack of understanding lies squarely in our camp. No one but offering viable solutions. Two well known civic organizations
land surveyors can or will provide this much needed education. are Toastmasters and the Lions Club. Hone your speaking
Opportunities abound for this needed education, and are skills through Toastmasters while exposing members to the
limited only by one’s creativity and resourcefulness. importance of land surveying services. Become involved in the
community through services provided by the local Lions Club.
From the perspective of the average citizen, the land surveyor
is considered a loner of little exposure in the mainstream of I like the astute observation from Plato found on the
society. Consider, for example, that for probably 80 percent of Toastmasters website:
society the need to retain a land surveyor will never occur. Is it CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
8 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
A Time to Re-Evaluate? continued from previous page
Strategies for Tough
A wise man speaks because he has something to say;
a fool because he has to say something.
The idea is to immerse yourself in the local community for
name recognition, and to educate people about the need Times - Weathering
for land surveyors and the unique services they provide.
Networking within you local community can be an excellent
form of exposure that only requires a time commitment.
We asked some of our members, who have experienced previous
Other ways of achieving exposure are through an adjunct
recessions and survived to highlight some of their strategies for
teaching position at the local community college or university;
tough times. We hope you find their responses to be reassuring.
having project signs made to post on site for projects in which
your firm is responsible for the land surveying services, or Bill Beardslee, PLS, PE, PP (29 years in business) -
insisting that your firm be included on project signs which The current financial crisis is the fourth “economic downturn”
indicate the developer, architect and contractor; signs can also of my career. Each has been different and has had different
be set on any property in which your firm is involved – even effects on me. The first, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s had
boundary surveys – make this a stipulation in your contract little impact, other than to limit overtime. The second, in 1980,
for services, with a time frame for removal after completion; came just as I started my practice. As there were only three
develop brochures which tastefully showcase your firm, its of us in the firm, coping with the limited amount of work was
services and capabilities, people and successful projects. easier as our expenses were much lower. The housing market
was very slow, as mortgage rates hit 16 %. (Yes, that is 16 -
Business and Administrative NOT 1.6 or 6, but CD’s, at that time, were at 14% also.) We
spread our wings at that time to increase the number of clients
Versatility has been a by-word within the land surveying
we served so that no client was so important that the loss of his
profession for many decades. But this concept historically
work would impale us.
seems to have been applied predominantly to the technical
aspects of the profession. Survival today means new
When the savings and loan crisis hit in 1989, the economy
paradigms, even for the administrative side of a business.
hit the skids. We began decreasing size by attrition and then
Computers are so much a part of our business processes today
by layoffs. We downsized our facilities and became more
that we simply cannot do without them. Land Surveyors of
electronic. (In 1989, we were 15% auto cad, 85% hand draft) We
today are also highly computer oriented for the technical vowed at that time to become more electronic and to limit our
aspects of our practice. Versatility means adeptness in field, total staff size to ten. We found that after about fifteen people,
office and administrative functions. management spent more time on “human resource” issues
than on production. If we had more work than the staff of ten
Perhaps you have a technician who is trained, versatile, could handle, we subcontracted it to local surveyors whom we
trusted and a valuable asset to your firm – but not enough knew and trusted. We worked out a “crew pool” with them. If
work to keep him or her on a full time basis; and not enough we needed a crew for two days, we would schedule it with them
work to keep a full-time administrative staffer. If one can and then owed them two crew days. They would “cash in” that
learn technical software, one can learn administrative chip when they were rushed or overburdened. It allowed us all
and accounting software. Retain your valuable technician to limit the number of full time employees.
by apportioning his or her time between technical and
administrative functions, as demand dictates. Or perhaps you The downturn in 2000, with the collapse of the dot.com world,
have had more than one administrative staffer. Could your had little effect on us. When this current slow down began in
valued technician fill in on a part-time basis for one of those 2007, we realized we had just experienced an unprecedented
administrative positions? fifteen-year run of full employment and workload. Today, we
Size of firm will of course dictate to some degree your latitude have decreased staff and are merging with another office of the
in shifting of staff work loads. For certain smaller firms the firm that acquired us in 2006.
owner or one of the principals may have to assume more of an
administrative role. Here in New Jersey, the state government has been as big a
culprit on our loss of work as the economy. New environmental
Summary regulations over the last five years have taken over 600,000
acres of developable land out of play - 12 % of the state.
Naturally, individual firm owners are the ones best equipped Remember that when you go to the poles next time.
to evaluate their own unique circumstances in light of the
current economic climate. My purpose has been to make a few The economy is always cyclical, Prepare now for the coming
suggestions, and to encourage us all to think outside of the upturn !!.
Richard F. Smith, Jr., PLS (29 years in business) -
Survival will come to those who have 1.) planned ahead, 2.) I opened my firm during the recession of 1980. The title
developed contingencies, 3.) regularly monitored the profession insurance agents and closing attorneys ordered surveys for
and market changes, 4.) optimized the balance of staffing with buyers as they do today. The “title surveyors” of that era felt
technology, 5.) pursued marketing of services through exposure that their responsibility was satisfied when they plotted the
and education of the public about land surveying, 6.) pursued deed and plopped it down on a pipe or two. I did not share that
or are willing to consider new areas of practice, and 7.) not view, but, expenses were low for me. I had one employee that I
compromised fee structure. shared with a pharmacist.
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 9
Strategies for Tough Times... continued from previous page
Kelo v. City of New In 1982 interest rates went to 19% and the real estate market
died. Work got scarce for all surveyors. I searched for alternate
work sources. I started servicing some architects and small
London Results of engineers. I drummed up some work from the municipalities
and the County. I found column layout work for steel
Business increased as years passed, prices slowly improved.
Abuse In 1985, I had eight employees. We did mostly title surveys,
small subdivisions, construction stake out, steel and cemetery
layout. Housing prices were soaring; spectacular tax breaks on
rental property further fueled the frenzy. I hired a few more
by Terry W. McHenry, PLS people and trained them.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of Surveyors could not keep up with the demand. The real estate
New London, one of the most reprehensible in recent decades, market reacted; banks began accepting ten-year-old surveys.
has caused another dark cloud to settle over the once quiet The “No survey-survey endorsement” was discovered. October
neighborhood of Susette Kelo. 17, 1987 was Black Monday. In 1988 real estate followed Wall
Four years after the infamous decision that gave private
What did I do then? What can I do this time?
property over to the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, Inc., with
I cut back. I gave no raises, no bonuses, some employees
the City of New London, Connecticut acting as the agent for left, I let some go. I diversified. I spent my new spare time
misapplying the power of eminent domain, the area is once looking into who was doing what. I found the names of closing
again quiet - so quiet in fact it resembles a ghost town. The attorney, the title agency and the surveyor on the recently
city and the state have spent some $78 million to level the recorded mortgages. A few surveyors were getting all the
condemned properties in preparation for economic development work. The surveyors with the most work were the ones that
of high-end condos, a hotel and offices intended to enhance did not find any problems with the old deed or survey, the deal
Pfizer’s nearby corporate facility. The Court’s confidence in the always closes, and the commission is paid. And they offer next
day service. We know how they do it. It’s very difficult to sell
city’s “carefully formulated development plan” that promised
quality work. Most involved in these transactions know that
“appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not the surveys are weak at best. They reply “It’s insured” when
limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue,” would seem to questioned.
have paled, with nothing to show but vacant ground. Why?
What can we all do now?
Ironically, Pfizer, Inc. has recently announced it will close When you see a dreadful fake job that someone passed off as
its research and development headquarters in New London, a survey, put it in the mail. Let the State Board deal with the
problem. We are guilty of misconduct when we fail to report
Connecticut. The conclusion from this is that the impetus
for the whole project seems to have evaporated, along with
the promise of increased tax revenues and new jobs. More What else?
pointedly, abuse of the Constitutionally narrow and specific I think that we are missing out on a lot of survey work
power of ‘taking for public use’ has collapsed at the feet of the because we have not been diligent in policing our own
accomplices involved. Apparently, efforts at corporate welfare profession. Find out who’s doing the surveying for your Town
are not without risks. Ultimately the citizenry bears the and your County. Who surveyed the stormwater outfall
emotional trauma and fiscal burden from the actions of miss- structures that the DEP required every municipality to locate?
Who’s doing the base mapping for the Town or the County
guided public officials.
GIS? Are they licensed surveyors? Find out. Get out and sell
your work, start in your home town. Is your firm more suited
The one bright spot to the fallout of Kelo is that since the to offering these services?
ill-fated decision, some 43 states (including Nevada) have
passed legislation establishing limits on eminent domain The Obama Administration is spreading Stimulus Money all
abuse, according to the Institute for Justice, which represented over the country targeting infrastructure improvements. Who
Susette Kelo. Immediately after the decision there was concern is surveying the roadways? Who is surveying the highways
for NJDOT? Was this survey work performed by licensed
that a dangerous precedent would balloon and sweep the
surveyors? Challenge them. Send the maps to the State Board.
entire country with eminent domain abuses. Fortunately, most
states saw the danger looming and took quick steps to enact What else?
safeguards. Hopefully, this most recent development from Layoffs? Who goes, who stays? If you are an employee, you
Pfizer’s decision to close down its facility will further reinforce should know that the multi-taskers stay. What professional
the folly of ignoring the protections built into our Constitution. and personal skills do you have? How many tasks can you
cover? Are you pleasant on the phone, can you run an instru-
ment? Data Collector? Do you know AutoCAD? How about
survey math, analysis and research? In a smaller firm
employees need to be able to cover several tasks.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 u
10 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
Your deadlines are deadlines
Custom orders your way … when you need them.
When your name is on it, our name is behind it.
The professional’s choice in survey products • www.berntsen.com • 877.686.8561
Four-Year Degree Quotes to Ponder...
“You cannot legislate the poor into
By Charles “Dan” Church, PLS prosperity by legislating the wealthy out
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for higher —Adrian Rogers
education in Land Surveying, and I am in complete agreement.
My only concern is the effect that implementation of the four-
year degree requirement will have on the growth or decline of “The government cannot give to anybody
the industry. anything that the government does not first
take from somebody else.”
The New Hire
Land Surveying is somewhat unique in that the average
person that becomes a Land Surveyor did not graduate from “You cannot multiply wealth by
high school planning on becoming a Land Surveyor. He or she dividing it …”
stumbles into it as a second or third career choice and then —Adrian Rogers
falls in love with it. By this time he/she is possibly married,
perhaps with children on the way and now they have finally
found their dream job. For that person to go back to school to “Man is the only animal that blushes.
get a four-year degree while working full time and managing a Or needs to.”
family would be a Herculean task. —Mark Twain
In my thirty-nine years in this business I have yet to meet
a single person that graduated from high school and went
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must
directly to college to obtain a degree in Land Surveying. Now, be sought for with ardor and attended to
I am sure there are some, but from my observations they are with diligence.”
certainly in the minority. —Abigail Adams
With the average Bachelor of Science Degree requiring 120 to
130 credits, if you take 2 three credit classes a semester, and
“Time does not relinquish its rights, either
perhaps a three credit class in summer school, you will acquire over human beings or over monuments.”
15 credits a year. It will take 8 years of study while working —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
full time to complete your degree. It could take 10 years if you
don’t attend summer school. “The idle mind knows not what it is
So this new hire works in the field for let’s say a couple of
years then decides to take the plunge … they’re going for —Quintus Ennius
their license. Great; in 10 or 11 years they may finally have
their degree and be able to sit for the professional exam. The “Not by age but by capacity is wisdom
average person would be very discouraged with the prospect acquired.”
of investing that many years just to qualify to sit for the —Titus Maccius Plautus
It occurs to me that there could be a real shortage of qualified “To be turned from one’s course by
applicants for the licensing examination in the next few years. men’s opinions, by blame, and by
misrepresentation shows a man unfit to
It seems to me that it would be more productive to make an
Associates Degree mandatory (5 years of 2 classes per semester
hold an office.”
or 4 years if you include a summer school class) for the next —Fabius Maximus
10 to 15 years, then phase in a Bachelor of Science Degree
requirement. “Truth has no special time of its own. Its
hour is now – always.”
Recruiting and the Image Problem —Albert Schweitzer
Why don’t the young people of today graduate from high school
and go to college to become Land Surveyors? They do - for
CONTINUED ON PAGE 33 u
12 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
What’s in a BS engineering student complaint of these courses is “they require too
much reading;” my response, “literacy, such a burden.”
Degree? Recognize that the courses in communications teach more than
communications. Yes, they teach proper grammar and methods of
oral presentation, but they also teach the students how to research
Profession vs. Trade a topic, synthesize the material, question the reported outcome,
and formulate a response. Students do this both in written and
oral forms. The arts, humanities, and social sciences expose
By Charles D. Ghilani, PhD students to other cultures and ways of thinking. For example, a
student may take a course on world religions or international
Webster defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized music. Courses like these expose the student to other cultures.
knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.” Is this important? Well not if you live your entire life in your
Black’s Law Dictionary defines a profession as “a vocation or family’s town, but few of us do today. Furthermore, few towns
occupation requiring special, usually advanced, education, remain the same as new populations move into it. Cultures differ
knowledge, and skill.” Bullock and Trombley state that a not only by country, but also by geographic region. Eventual
profession is created when a trade transforms itself through “the acceptance of this fact is commonly known as wisdom.
development of formal qualifications based upon education
and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with Engineering students often take courses in mathematics and
powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of sciences. When in these courses, the students commonly
monopoly rights.” complain that they will never use this material. This
complaint is heard most often right around test time. However,
A trade is defined by Webster as “an occupation requiring what they chose to ignore is the fact that technology is changing
manual or mechanical skill.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines a and what is required of them tomorrow is not what is required
tradesman as “a mechanic, craftsman, or artificer of any kind, today. For example in physics, students study Einstein’s theory
whose livelihood depends primarily on the labor of his hands” of relativity for the past century. This theory is obviously not
and further defines a trade as “that of a mechanical employment, needed for performing a survey, but since the satellites we
in contradistinction to the learned professions, agriculture, or the use in positioning are moving at approximately 8300 mph,
liberal arts.” Wikipedia defines a tradesman as “a skilled manual their clocks and transmitted frequencies must be offset to account
worker in a particular trade or craft. Economically and socially, for this theory. Similarly, while Newton’s laws of gravity seem
a tradesman’s status is considered between a laborer and a unrelated to our work, it is the gravity field that determines
professional, with a high degree of both practical and theoretical our leveling datum; it is the gravity field that changes with the
knowledge of their trade.” latitude and height of our survey; and it is the gravity field along
our level line that must be known if we are to truly determine a
As can be seen from the above vernacular definitions, the difference in elevation.
difference between a trade and a profession is education.
Historically, the surveying profession has varied between being The closure of long north-south leveling lines will not agree
a profession and a trade. The rope stretchers of ancient Egyptian with published data if we chose to ignore the changes in the
time were among the educated elite of Egypt. Our forefathers gravity field. Higher mathematics is likewise often disdained by
such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Ellicott, and Henry David students around test time. However, it is knowledge in calculus
Thoreau were all college educated. However, many surveyors that allows them to understand error propagation in their
such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin observation and computations. It is linear algebra and calculus
Bannecker were self-educated. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that allow them to understand the basis behind a least-squares
that surveying was a trade since it still allowed entry into the adjustment, post-adjustment statistics, and the advantages
profession with no formal education in surveying. So with this that statistical blunder detection can play in isolating a bad
stated, what is in formal higher education in surveying? observation. If students do not have this knowledge, how can
they truly understand the printout from a GPS baseline report
WHAT IS IN A BACCALAUREATE DEGREE? or a GPS network adjustment? Additionally, it is this study
in higher mathematics that makes basic algebraic operations
I could easily answer that question by reciting courses that
seem trivial. Most importantly, it is these core courses that will
students are required to take, but this would not completely
allow a graduate to successfully communicate to people of various
answer the question. All universities require a core set of
educational levels and adapt to future changes in technology.
courses. These core courses are there to ensure that all graduates
have a particular level of education in communications, arts, SURVEYING GRADUATES
humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and sciences.
Students in degrees such as the sciences and engineering Not all graduates of surveying/geomatics curricula are the
are often required to take courses well beyond the core same. Surveying graduates may come from engineering
requirements in mathematics and sciences whereas someone in programs, applied science programs, or technology programs.
communication takes more courses in the other subject areas. Additionally, some curricula may be nationally accredited
Why are these core courses important to the graduate? while others simply offer courses in surveying with no interest
Believe me, this is a question students often ask. For example, in accreditation. Furthermore curricula may require two years
students in the humanities often hate and sometimes fear their or four years to complete. Finally graduates from related
courses in mathematics and science whereas engineering curricula such as civil engineering may seek employment in
students often hate and sometimes fear their courses in the surveying.
communications, arts, humanities, and social sciences. A common CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 13
What’s in a B.S. Degree? continued from previous page
Each of these programs serves a need in the profession. A two- arrangement of courses prohibits more advanced topics from
year curriculum is primarily designed to produce a technician. being covered to the depth that is possible when the technical
This graduate has enough education in one particular area of a courses are distributed throughout the student’s entire four years
profession to be productive upon graduation. However, graduates of education. Nonetheless, all baccalaureate programs have
of these curricula often lack sufficient core courses to adapt between 120 and 130 credit hours of study. This translates into
to changing technologies and sufficient courses in surveying to about 160 class hours of study with about 5000 hours of study in
easily pass licensing exams. Thus, they must seek retraining total.
and further education to adapt to changes in the profession
and progress professionally. As the flyer for the Penn State When hiring a graduate, the employer needs to be aware of
Surveying Technology program states:” The Surveying Technology the differences in these programs and what skills the position
(2SRT) major provides the basic undergraduate education requires. If a field technician is desired, then an associate
required for private and public service as a technician in the degree graduate can neatly fill this role. However, if it is desired
surveying profession. Basic knowledge is provided in the areas that the person in this position can advance in the company or
of b o u n d a r y, c o n s t r u c t i o n , t o p o g r a p h i c, a n d photog manage in new technology such as satellite positioning systems,
ram metric surveying. The curriculum is designed to develop an then a baccalaureate graduate in surveying will be needed. So
individual understanding of the skills and equipment needed to how does a civil engineering graduate fit into this position?
make precise surveying measurements.” Well if you wish to spend considerable time training,
they have the basic educational tools to learn the profession.
Baccalaureate students in surveying may graduate from However, they will not be productive immediately upon
technology, applied science, or engineering programs. Each has graduation unless your firm also has considerable engineering
studied similar courses in surveying beyond those obtained by an responsibilities that match their education. This is due to the fact
associate degree graduate. The differences in the programs lie in that the civil engineering graduate lacks the formal education
their core courses in mathematics and science and the depth of in surveying that a baccalaureate graduate in surveying has,
study that a student can achieve when lacking in some core and this will require considerably more education to meet the
knowledge. A technology curriculum generally only covers minimum requirement for licensure. Most importantly, however,
mathematics to the calculus level and its science courses are a baccalaureate graduate has the tools to adapt to changes in
based on algebra. It is designed to produce a technician who can field methods and technology.
work in the profession. An applied science curricula generally has
higher mathematics requirements than a technology program. What the preceding paragraph is attempting to point out is that
Its science courses may be either algebra or calculus based. not all graduates, even from the same institution, are educated
Traditionally, there are less mathematics requirements in the same. So what is the best hire for your company? It depends.
an applied science curriculum than there is in an engineering The baccalaureate graduate in surveying engineering will have
curriculum, but this is not always the case. An engineering all the educational skills necessary to not only obtain licensure
program must have courses beyond calculus and its science in surveying, but also to grow and develop with the business.
courses must be calculus based. For example, surveying An associate degree student in surveying technology has all
engineering students in the Penn State program are required to the skills needed to work in surveying as a technician. This
have 24 credits in mathematics at the calculus level or higher, student will need to continue his or her education in order to pass
which includes statistics and computer science, and 13 credits in the professional licensure exam. The baccalaureate graduate
chemistry and calculus-based physics. from a civil engineering program will have all the educational
skills necessary to learn surveying, but will have little, if any,
Penn State has a unique advantage over many other accredited education in surveying. Thus, this person must be educated in
baccalaureate surveying programs in that it sees its students surveying initially before they can be productive.
in their first semester of study. This allows the students in the
program to study surveying in its broadest sense. That is, we do CONTINUING EDUCATION
not simply provide the education necessary to be a boundary or
construction surveyor. The curriculum covers the breadth of what For more than 200 years, surveying did not appreciably change.
is known as surveying and is presently being called geomatics. That is, the mathematics and field procedures used to conduct
Students have three courses in the legal aspects of surveying, a survey remained stagnant. However, the same can not be
at least one course in the areas of adjustment computations, said for the past 30 years. From the advent of the affordable
photogrammetry, geodesy, and geographic information systems EDM to GPS, the profession has changed rapidly. None of our
with the option and requirement of taking additional courses in undergraduate students have known a day in their life without
each area. These additional courses include advanced topics in satellite navigation systems. As the profession changes from
these areas. Additionally, the surveying engineering graduate setting stakes to machine control in construction surveys,
from Penn State takes nearly all of the courses that an associate laying out subdivisions with total stations to laying them out
degree student has enabling them to be productive in the with RTK-GPS, the knowledge a student gathers during his or her
profession upon graduation. baccalaureate studies will allow that person to adapt to and
exploit the newer technologies.
However, the education that a baccalaureate surveying student
This brings a serious question about continuing education.
will receive will vary by degree and school. For example, a civil
For continuing education to provide an upgrade path to the
engineering graduate may have only one course in surveying
profession into newer technologies and methods, the person must
and sometimes none while a baccalaureate surveying graduate
have some “education” to continue. This explains why so many
has experienced some advanced level of education in surveying.
of the workshops done around the country are at the very
Traditionally an engineering student spends the first two years of
basic level. Simply stated, the audience often lacks any formal
his or her education taking core courses in the curriculum, leaving
education beyond high school. This was acceptable for about 200
the technical courses in surveying to their last two years. This
CONTINUED ON PAGE 22 u
14 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
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16 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
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The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 17
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K onboard software. With the complete range of GNSS and Total Station
solutions and wirelessly connected field controllers, fewer setups are
required, fewer control points are needed and your flexibility is maximized.
Las Vegas, NV Reno, NV TO A NE
4445 S. Valley View Blvd., #2 4591 Longley Lane, #1 SUIT
18 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 19
Following is a listing of sustaining members of the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors. Please remember that these
firms and businesses, through their NALS membership, are supporting the aims and objectives of our association.
Bruce L. Gandelman Tony Cuomo, PLS Seco Manufacturing Company, Inc.
California Surveying & Drafting Supply Pacific Land Seminars 4155 Oasis Road
4733 Auburn Blvd. 2832 Tigertail Drive Redding, CA 96003
Sacramento, CA 95841 Rossmoor, CA 90720 (530) 225-8155 • Fax (530) 225-8162
(916) 344-0232 (562) 431-1656
Monsen Engineering, Inc.
H&S Survey & Laser 5115 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89118
4445 S. Valley View Blvd. No. 2
Ken Miller/Mike Riley/Eddie Brown
Nevada Transit & Laser (702) 220-6505 • Toll Free: (800) 821-0672
Las Vegas, NV 89103 1140 Financial Blvd. #400, Reno, NV 89502
(800) 432-8380 5720 S. Arville St., Suite #110, Las Vegas, NV
89118 (775) 359-6671
745 East Greg St., Suite #2, Sparks, NV 89431
North American Mapping (775) 356-6060 Mitchel E. Bartorelli
4011 W. Cheyenne Ave., Ste. B, No. Las Vegas, NV 89032
www.rmtlaser.com Tri-State Photogrammetry
1925 E. Prater Way
2175 Green Vista Dr., Suite 207, Sparks, NV 89431 Sparks, NV 89434
(775) 673-6000 • Toll Free: (800) 473-0627
AeroTech Mapping (775) 358-9491
2580 Montessouri St., #104
Kenney Aerial Mapping Inc. Las Vegas, NV 89117
220 E Horizon Drive, Suite H (702) 228-6277 • Fax (702) 228-6753
Henderson, NV 89015 Trimble Navigation Limited
(702) 260-3033 10355 Westmoor Drive
Daedri Peters Westminster, CO 80021
The Blue Book of Bldg. & Construction (720) 587-4576
Russ Law P.O. Box 500
Nevada Department of Transportation Jefferson Valley, NY 10535
1263 S. Stewart Street (800) 431-2584 • Fax (914) 243-4936
Carson City, NV 89712 Berntsen International, Inc.
P.O. Box 8670
Madison, WI 53708
Joe Schmidt Toll Free: (800) 356-7388
Spencer B. Gross, Inc. Holman’s of Nevada email@example.com
5301-A Longley Lane, Suite 11 4445 S. Valley View Blvd., Ste. 2
Reno, NV 89511 Las Vegas, NV 89103
RA&MCO Insurance Services
Cartwright Aerial Surveys, Inc. 2300 Clayton Rd., Suite 1100
Executive Airport, 5979 Freeport Blvd. Concord, CA 94520
Sacramento, CA 95822 Toll Free: (800) 684-7475
President Obama profits, and organizations representing millions of scientists,
engineers and teachers that will motivate and inspire young
Promotes people across the country to excel in science, technology, engi-
neering and mathematics (STEM). ACSM is monitoring this
STEM Program and STEM related legislation working through Congress to
best determine how we can play a role promoting this program
and STEM related legislation. ACSM continues to press for
President Obama will launch the “Educate to Innovate” cam-
surveying/mapping /geomatics education being included in
paign, a nationwide effort to help reach the administration’s
goal of moving American students from the middle of the pack
to the front in science and math achievement over the next
The above obtained from the ACSM Government Affairs Update, November 2009.
decade. The President will announce a series of partnerships
involving leading companies, universities, foundations, non-
20 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The American If one were to Google terms such as projections, datums,
coordinate systems, etc. they will find primarily articles and
reports that have been put together for GIS specialists or
Association for technicians. The realization is that it is not just those using
GPS that have become Geodesists; it is also the people who are
creating the maps and data bases that we use every day to get
from point A to point B.
Working to Unite Past Activities:
During the past few years there have been a great number of
seminars, papers, and presentations done by members of AAGS
in response to the above. In light of that at each of the Annual
ACSM Conferences in the past three years members of AAGS
the Geospatial have presented Geodesy based seminars in addition to seminars
and works shops for State Survey Conferences and GIS
Conferences. Some of those include “GPS, Geodesy & The Ghost
Professions in the Machine: A Modern Surveying & Mapping Workshop”,
by Michael Dennis of Geodetic Analysis, LLC; “GPS Derived
Heights Part 1 and Part II”, by Ed Carlson and Bill Henning,
Barbara S. Littell, PLS, BLM, formerly an Associate of with The National Geodetic Survey; “Ground Truth Design &
Tri State Surveying, Ltd., Documentation of Low Distortion Map Projections for Surveying
E-mail: blittell_NALS@sbcglobal.net & GIS”, by Michael Dennis of Geodetic Analysis, LLC; “Helping
Position the Future of the NGS Through AAGS Government
Michael L. Dennis, RLS, PE, Owner/President, Geodetic Programs Committee”, by Michael Dennis, Steve Briggs, and
Bob Packard; “Precise Digital Leveling”, by Curt Smith; and
Analysis, LLC, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Orthometric Heighting with GPS”, by Thomas Meyer, Ph.D.
These are just a few of the seminars presented. AAGS has had
a presence at the ESRI Users Conferences with a high degree
As Geodetic Surveying, Land Surveying, Mapping, and other
of interest from the GIS Specialists and Technologists. AAGS
Geospatial Professions have moved further into the 21st century,
members have also presented seminars at the ESRI Surveying
AAGS has continued to meet the educational needs of those
Engineering Summit and the ESRI Users Conference and have
professions through the support of Young Surveyors, Survey
had a presence at the conference exhibit hall.
Associations, and GIS Associations. Working with various
governmental agencies, AAGS has helped to develop procedures
AAGS Government Programs Committee Activities:
and goals that will become part of the day-to-day use of the
The Government Programs (GP) Committee of the American
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and the geodetic
Association for Geodetic Surveying (AAGS) provides a
knowledge that GNSS users will require in the future. This
mechanism for users to give feedback to government agencies
paper discusses some of those educational programs, support
with regard to their geospatial products, services, and programs.
and acknowledgement of AAGS members over the past three
Although the GP Committee has focused on providing input
to the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), an effort is currently
underway to include other federal agencies, such as the US
Geological Survey (USGS), the Bureau of Land Management
In the past three years AAGS has continued working to promote
(BLM), the National Geospatial-intelligence Agency (NGA), the
a better understanding of geodesy as a science. The AAGS
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and others
mission statement is, “The American Association for Geodetic
with a strong presence in the geospatial arena. In the future the
Surveying (AAGS) aims to lead the community of geodetic,
GP Committee may provide recommendations to state and local
surveying, and land information data users through the 21st
government agencies as well.
century. This will require AAGS to develop new educational
programs, including presentations, seminars, and workshops on
The NGS (and other federal agencies) provide products and
topics related to geodetic surveying; and articles and papers that
services to a very large number of users with a broad spectrum
inform the membership of the latest scientific and technological
of needs and interests. The number of users is so large that
developments and how to implement them in the most cost-
it is impractical for these agencies to respond to individual
effective and efficient manner”. This mission statement has
demands. This provides the main rationale for the existence
become a key component in many of the seminars, workshops,
of the GP Committee — to give a more focused and prominent
and articles that AAGS members present.
voice to users who might otherwise go unheard. To help
ensure independent perspectives, the committee is composed
As we have moved into an age of Space Geodesy those that have
of members who are not employees of federal agencies, with
knowledge of Geodesy have grown fewer while the number of
diverse expertise on the geospatial professions, and who are
those applying Space Geodesy have grown greater. The need
distributed throughout the U.S. In addition, the committee also
for educating these new space geodesists has become more
has a panel of advisors who are federal employees, to help keep
imperative than ever. This could include professional surveyors,
the committee recommendations realistic, useful, and consistent
GIS specialists, and other geospatial specialists, mining
with agency missions.
surveyors, geologists, mariners, as well as hiking clubs, off road
vehicle users, geo cachers, and many others. It is no longer just
Although the GP Committee has existed since 1992, it had
under the purview of the Geodesist, but rather has become the
become inactive in the last several years. In early 2007, the
basis for all surveys whether it is construction of a home site or
NGS Director at that time (David Zilkoski) recruited Robert
the layout of a high order subsidence network.
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 21
AAGS continued from previous page
Packard and Michael Dennis to restart the GP Committee as co- AAGS resuscitated the newsletter and is in the process of again
chairs. Robert Packard retired from the committee in January putting a newsletter together to keep the association informed
2009 (although he is now on the panel of advisors), but Michael of the latest news that may pertain to them. Recognition of Urho
Dennis continues to serve as chair. Since its restart in 2007, A. K. Uotila, Ph.D. will be given to the family members during
the GP Committee has been quite active and has provided the 2010 ACSM Conference to be held in Phoenix Arizona. Dr.
feedback to the NGS on the some of the following items: The Uotila was a great influence in the Geodetic Survey world.
NGS 10 Year Plan; NGS Datasheet modernization; NGS
Bluebook Addendum; NGS 5-year Strategic Plan; Geospatial AAGS will continue to support NGS and their mission of
Industry Association of America Symposium; NGS classical real maintaining the National Spatial Reference System through the
time GNSS guidelines; Modification of NGS Bluebook Format; Government Programs Committee. This includes the goals listed
Low Distortion Projections; and NGS real time GNSS network previously as well as the collection and processing of gravity
guidelines. data that will be used in the implementation of a new vertical
datum based entirely on a purely gravimetric geoid model. This
Education: will allow for more accurate height measurements, particularly
AAGS has continued to support the education of young when using GNSS technology.
surveyors who have an interest in Geodesy through the Dracup
Scholarship and the AAGS Graduate Fellowship. Winners of Conclusion:
these scholarships in the recent years have been (in 2007) the As GNSS continues to grow and be used by everyone from the
Dracup Scholarship for $2000.00 to Nicholas Battjes of Ferris fly fisherman looking for a specific fishing hole to the Geodetic
State, and the AAGS Graduate Fellowship Award to Orrin Surveyor setting up a high order geodetic network, AAGS’s role
Thomas of CSU. will grow also. Supporting the work NGS does as well as other
agencies and programs will continue to be a priority of AAGS in
In 2008, the Dracup Scholarship went to Elizabeth McCauley of addition to the education of the public about geodesy and how it
the University of Alaska, the AAGS Fellowship Award to Karla relates to the GPS receiver they are using every day.
Edwards of Ohio State.
Reprinted with permission from Surveying and Land
In 2009 the Dracup Scholarship went to David Biswanger of Information Science (SaLIS), the Scientific and technical
CSU Fresno, the AAGS Graduate Fellowship to Jong Kilee of Journal of the American Association for Geodetic Surveying
Ohio State. (AAGS), the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS),
and the Geographic and Land Information Society(GLIS),
During the 2009 ESRI Surveying and Engineering Summit, an member organizations of the American Congress on Surveying
informal meeting between the ACSM Member Organizations, and Mapping (ACSM), Vol. 70, No. 1, January 2010.
and ESRI representative and three young surveyors was held.
The meetings intent was to discuss the creation and support of a
Young Surveyors Network such as they have in Europe. What’s in a B.S. Degree? continued from page 14
The meeting and discussion was spearheaded by a young years in this country since the technology and field procedures
surveyor, Kate Fairlie from Australia who is working on her never really changed. However, in the past 30 years, satellite
Doctorate and is the Regional Coordinator for the Young navigation systems, geographic information systems, laser
Surveyors Network for FIG. The discussion centered on how scanning, and image processing have brought about changes
to get more young people involved as well as bringing them to the way things were traditionally done. To understand and
into the surveying profession. Also attending the meeting was exploit these changes requires an education beyond high school.
Khae Saetern and Marisol Serrano, two young surveyors who Yes, we now have a continuing education requirement for
graduated from the Geomatics Engineering Program at CSU, maintenance of licensure in Pennsylvania, as do many other
Fresno this past year, and are assisting in the development of a states. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle in being
Young Surveyors Network here in the U.S. called a professional. While we should cherish our history
of being one of the oldest professions in the world, we must also
An immediate item that came out of this meeting was the recognize that it is time to require a baccalaureate degree for
decision by AAGS to sponsor a young surveyor to the 2010 FIG licensure. If not, a “For Better or Worse” comic said it all when
in Sydney Australia next April. the teacher stated that if you chose to ignore the world, it will
simply pass you by.
AAGS in the Future:
During the 2008 ACSM Awards Banquet, AAGS led the way in Charles Ghilani, PhD, is a professor of engineering in the
recognizing their members and new officers with the swearing B.S. Surveying Engineering and A.S. Surveying Technology
in of the new officers. Steve Briggs, 2007-2008 AAGS President, programs at Penn State, Wilkes-Barre. He holds a Ph.D.
awarded Presidential Citations to Jim Reilly, Dan Martin, and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from
Barbara Littell and Wesley Parks during the awards ceremony. the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a B. S. degree in
Between the two, AAGS was put into the spot light and gave mathematics and education from the University of Wisconsin-
recognition to members in front of their fellow surveyors and Milwaukee. He has been involved in education since 1974;
geodesists. teaching at various levels from elementary through graduate
Another step taken by AAGS to bring recognition to the
association was the re-formatting and design of the AAGS As seen in The Pennsylvania Surveyor, Spring 2009; reprinted from Backsights
Brochure and the website. Wendy Lathrop was instrumental & Foresights, the official publication of the North Dakota Society of Professional
in the redesign of the brochure and the website with help from Land Surveyors, Vol. 19, No. 4, Nov. 2009.
Ilse Genovese. The website has continued to be improved upon.
22 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Boundary always been accomplished by protraction from the original
section corners from the survey. Protraction is a means that
honors the intent of the original sub-divider, expressed on the
Conflict That Wasn’t plat, and is dependent upon the plat and field notes of the
original survey. Our description of a “660 x 660” is starting to
(Until They Hired a
look like it may well be an aliquot part.
We still can’t say with certainty that this description is aliquot.
Surveyor) We haven’t fully determined what the intent of the parties was
when the boundary was created. Does “intent of the parties”
speak only to the current deed? Intent speaks to the creation
By Christopher M. Wickem, PLS, RLS, CFedS of the boundary. We don’t like to think of intent in those terms
& John B. Stahl, PLS because that means that we might have to do research to resolve
the question rather than reading the current language and just
In the beginning, the US public Land Survey System was created. guessing. When patent ambiguities are found in the writings,
Surveys were conducted and monuments were set on the ground then one must rely upon the rules of construction as the first
to mark the conveyance of property over a vast public domain. clues for resolution. The rules of construction require that one
It wasn’t long before attorneys, do it yourself owners, and place themselves as best as possible in the circumstances
a few surveyors began describing 5, 10, 20, 40 acre (or more) surrounding the conveyance. Once the patent ambiguities are
parcels of the US Public Land Survey System. resolved, the language is ready to be applied to the ground.
Brown’s Boundary Control and Legal Principles, 4th Ed., 11.12,
They based their descriptions on what they knew about the lists the order of importance of conflicting elements that
system, the plats and the field notes. We’ve all seen these determine land and boundary location as:
descriptions created without benefit of a new survey. The
plat said monuments were set at 40 chains and 80 chains. 1) Right of Possession (unwritten)
They understood that meant 2,640’ and 5,280’. The scrivener 2) Senior Rights
understood a Section is 5,280’ square and contains 640 acres. 3) The Written Intentions of the Parties,
They understood a 1/4 section is 2,640’ square and contains 160 Call for a survey on which the survey is based Call
acres; a 1/4 1/4 section is 1,320’ square and contains 40 acres. for monumented corners
They didn’t consider these to be 2,640’ +/-, or 160 acres more or 4) Adjoiners
less. They dealt with them as the original government surveys 5) Direction and Distance
measured and reported them. 6) Direction or Distance
Let’s consider a description typically seen in many areas:
“A portion of the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 9,” The What?
scrivener has referenced the subdivision of the Township and I thought we were supposed to determine the intent from the
Range, the subdivision establishing the sections within, and writings! No. The writings are only one step. If they are clear,
the further subdivision of those sections. They did not visit the concise and without ambiguities, then they should govern as
ground or have a new survey conducted. They didn’t recheck the the best expression of the intent. What did the survey notes
reported measurements; they had their survey before them. Our and plats say? What did their vesting deed say? What were
description continues with, “... being more particularly described they attempting to accomplish by creating the boundary?
as; “Beginning at the NE Corner of the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4; Right of possession certainly can’t be determined from the
thence South 660’; thence West 660’; thence North 660’; thence writings. What does the field evidence tell you?
East 660’ to the point of beginning, containing 10 acres.”
Is it a mete’s description defining a parcel that is 660.00’ x This is where the physical evidence will tell us whether our “660
660.00 feet? Is it a description by area? Or, is it protracted x 660” 10 acres fits the ground and evidence as an aliquot part,
from the subdivision plat of the Township and an aliquot portion or as a metes description. What we too often find is one method
of the public land system? of describing land has been used in preference to another,
and neither fits the field evidence. This doesn’t signal any
Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., defines the Public Land System boundary issues to the land owner. It may be the appearance of
as, “Legal descriptions of land by reference to the public boundary issues where none have before existed. Do we simply
land survey.” Our description does reference the public land expose the appearance on our survey or do we apply the rules
survey. The survey plat and notes were a part of the original of evidence and the rules of law which were designed to resolve
conveyance, making it a part of any subsequent conveyance, and the conflict? We must remember that all of the rules of law
the procedures used to establish the subdivision of sections concerning boundaries were designed with one purpose in mind
are well established. Brown’s Boundary Control and Legal ... determining the intent of the parties. The writings are only
Principles, 4th Ed., 6.16, defines parcels created by protraction: the first step. If they are clear, concise and without ambiguities,
“Parcels of land or lots drawn from a subdivision map but not then they should govern as the best expression of the intent.
monumented on the ground by an original survey are said to However, when conflicted by patent or latent ambiguities,
be created by protraction.” The subdivision of sections has one must turn to the evidence which best expresses the intent.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 33 u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 23
Strategies for Tough Times... continued from page 10
Land Surveying Joseph M. Dolan, PLS (32 years in business)
As you read this, if you are starting to think about how to
keep the wolf from your business door; I can only tell you that
Prices...Am I an you are about five years too late!
Enemy Among You?
What is a deepening recession for most of the country, is a
1930’s style depression for many surveying firms. Particularly
hard hit are the smaller firms that were solely dependent on
I Hope Not the housing and real estate markets.
The evaporation of real estate sales coupled with the banking
debacle and loss of easy credit has thinned the ranks of the
surveying community. Why? Well the answer is relatively
by Richard Fisher, PE easy. Most smaller firms do not have a diversified client base.
When the realtor or attorney stopped calling the cash flow
I am a Professional Engineer. Please forgive me. dried up!
And now for the soapbox. Land Surveyors do NOT charge Some of the multi-disciplined firms have fared better simply
enough. because they serve a more diversified client base in the
government and private sector. I would note that those two
I have been around surveying for 30 years. I started out helping sectors tend to work on an opposite sine wave to each other.
my father who is a land surveyor. I pulled chains and chopped That maintains a consistent cash flow. A profitable business
bushes in SC. I have witnessed the amazing technological cannot exist without a sufficient cash flow. A business can’t
advances, EDM, data collectors, total stations, GPS, robotics, exist at all without it!
etc. I believe the technology has done no favors for the
profession, because now as a whole I believe the public views When the private sector is down as it is now, government
Land Surveyors as nothing more than technicians to all of this projects seem to be on the increase. The federal stimulus
fancy equipment. package is and will continue to drive that sector.
I have worked with surveyors most of my life and how have most What I find morbidly fascinating, is how the many surveyors
of them priced their services? Well let’s see. Okay, how much have reacted to the problem. Many of us have responded by
field time will it take, how much drafting time, how much PLS cutting already ridiculously low fees for a substantially lower
time... Okay, let me add 10% for profit... Bam, this is what I volume of engagements. Most title survey fees were not prof-
can do it for. I think in general you price it out as if you were itable to start with. I know the old axiom “We lose money on
carpenters or laborers. I believe you need to develop a different every survey, but we make it up on volume” no longer applies
strategy for pricing. You are much, much more than technicians; because there is no volume! News flash! You never made it up!
you are attorneys, archeologists, and math experts all wrapped into
one. Take a look at the realtors. They have also been negatively
affected by the economy. Their standard contract is still
Architects and engineers generally price our services based on an basically 6% for residential and 10% for commercial
estimated cost of the projects we design.. .around 10%. Why can’t properties. I haven’t seen any rush to lower commissions by
surveyors do something similar? I believe on any given project the this regulated profession. Attorneys haven’t rushed to lower
surveyor takes on the most liability and is the most likely to be their hourly rates; neither has my doctor, stock broker or
sued but represents the smallest item on the budget. insurance agent. Surveyors need to change their business
plan. Another news flash! Most of us do not have one. Sur-
In addition, I do believe there are the few, what I like to refer to as veyors need to understand all the financial aspects of running
“technician monkeys” that somehow get licensed and attempt a PROFITABLE business. We need to personally review and
to prepare surveys. You have all seen the surveys...4 lines, 4 understand every expense. If you have not done that review of
distances, no reference to monuments found or set, no bearings, expenses and your door is still open, then do it now!
no angles, no indication of where the property might be located
and a vague legal description. I have discussed this in the past The biggest thing I think you must do is diversify your client
with surveyors. Isn’t this negligence that should be reported? base. I don’t mean more realtors or real estate attorneys.
No, no that would be unethical to report another surveyor. Now is the time for surveyors to become involved in all the
However, you see the general public does not understand what aspects of our profession that we have been ignoring. GIS,
makes a strong credible survey. Isn’t it a disservice to the public scanning technology, machine control (who should be advising
when this occurs? our former clients about DTM’s, Professional Land Surveyors
or equipment salesman)? You are only limited by your
I prefer to work with quality Land Surveyors and it is frustrating imagination!
when I recommend a particular surveyor and the client comes back We are required to be licensed by every jurisdiction in the
and says well Survey Company B can do it for half what your guy United States, in order to practice our chosen profession.
The reason that we and all other regulated professions must
will and I have to explain “Well, I believe Survey Company’s
demonstrate “minimum competence”, is so that the public is
price is lower because in my experience they prepare weak, less
protected. We do not protect the public by offering less than a
credible surveys and it is important to start your project off with
professional effort in furnishing service to our clients.
a good quality survey.” The general public does not understand it is
highly unlikely that a surveyor will have the same distance for
It is time that we view those we offer our services too as
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
24 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
Pricing Work to Great Basin
Survive...Interesting Chapter Report
Concept by John Grange, PLS
by J.J. Baker, PSM
s Chapter President for 2010, I just returned from the
My opinion is work is being priced not to survive but to die. NALS Board of Directors meeting in Las Vegas where
Our profession is withering on the vine. If you bid extremely I enjoyed meeting the current Board and Chapter
low on a job just to survive, you won’t. You are putting off presidents. I had an opportunity to attend the
the inevitable and you are dragging everyone else down with Southern Chapter meeting at Big Dogs Café the previous
you. When you charge 25 cents on the dollar your real hourly night. I visited with some old acquaintances from my days
wage is less than you would make driving a UPS truck. Why as a Southern Chapter member and also met several other
members. Both meetings were well run and informative.
go through the pain, anguish, labor, and hassle of running
a failing business into the ground and taking every one of
I would like to thank Norman Rockwell for leading the Great
your peers with you. Is it pride, bull headedness, or stupidity? Basin Chapter last year as our President. This year we elected
Again, this is my opinion but those who are bidding work ourselves to the following offices:
at “survival” prices would be better off finding employment
elsewhere, either in a larger firm with some respect for the John Grange President
profession or outside the profession entirely. James Elithorp President Elect
Dan Harmening Secretary
Since I started surveying with my dad 30 years ago, I have Bill Nisbet Treasurer
seen my profession throw away the potential for higher prof-
it margins at every opportunity. Computers, EDM’s, data Some of the chapter goals for this year are to increase
collectors, CAD and GPS, these advances should have made membership, organize Trig Star at Spring Creek and Elko
our professional lives easier and more profitable. Instead, High Schools, provide some local talent for PDH opportunities
and promote the Great Basin College surveying program.
we used these advances to cut our prices, to race to the
bottom. We are bidding jobs at their cost, not at their value. The Great Basin online four-year degree Land Surveying/
In addition, today the cost we are using to calculate our bids Geomatics Program is a success with a fall 2009 enrollment of
does not take into account overhead and equipment. We are 43 students. The lab program now has enough conventional
calculating our fees based on how much money we need at and GPS equipment to offer the students the necessary “hands
the end of the month to “survive.” This is not survival, this is on” experience.
The NALS Board of Directors meeting will be held in Elko on
We shouldn’t be bidding work at the level of a year or two Friday, July 30th with our chapter picnic to follow on Saturday,
ago. We should be bidding our work higher than a year ago July 31st in the rural community of Lamoille. Our dinner
to account for increased expenses. It is simple math. There meetings are generally held the first Monday of each month at
is half the work to do. We are charging half (or less) for that 5:30 in the Star Restaurant. Any time you are in the area you
are welcome to join us.
work. Ergo there is only a quarter of the money to support
the profession than there was a year ago. There is no way
around this, no way to justify this. The only possible outcome
is failure. Have some self-respect. Respect the profession. If Strategies for Tough Times... continued from previous page
we dare to refer to land surveying as a profession we have
to start treating ourselves as professionals, not skilled labor clients and not customers! We need to view what the value of
(with no business sense). our services are to our clients and stop valuing them as what
we think they are to ourselves, as a day laborer would. If you
Reprinted with permission from The Florida Surveyor, Nov. 2009; Georgia Land do not believe that is the case, then I suggest that the next
Surveyor, Sept./Oct. 2009. time a loved one is ill; price shop the surgery they need! I am
sure you will be thrilled with the results!
Land Surveying Prices... continued from previous page We are the ones that are responsible for how our clients view
us. Only we can alter that perception. In the recovery from
record and measured for all their property lines and if it is shown these hard economic times the survivors can change that
that way it should be questioned. They say hey it has his stamp on perception and build a strong, diversified business model for
it. It is good enough for me, at least I know who to sue if I do the future. A model that will be better able to weather the next
have a problem. poor economic cycle when it occurs and that will come as surely
as the sun will rise tomorrow.
If the entire industry charged more, the public would educate itself.
And I believe it would ultimately eliminate the monkeys. Reprinted with permission from Coordiante, Vol. 31, No. 2, Spring 2009, the
official publication of the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors
Reprinted from The Florida Surveyor, Nov. 2009; Georgia Land Surveyor, Sept./Oct.
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 25
NALS State Board of Directors Tele-Conference Meeting
Friday, January 22, 2010 • State Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors • Las Vegas • 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
MINUTES OF MEETING 13.3 Continuing Education-Glen Armstrong-no report
I. Call to Order
Nancy Almanzan called the meeting to order as shown above. 13.3.1 The State will present one event for Rail Road right of way, to be
Members present: Nancy Almanzan, Matt Gingerich, Li Zhang, Ray presented in the fall of 2010.
Hebert, Robert Carrington, Vern Little, Bart Dalton, Trent Keenan,
Barbara Littell, Linda Armstrong, John Grange, and Paul Burn. 13.4 Advanced Education-Dr. Jim Elithorp: See website for report.
Absent Glen Armstrong, Jim Elithorp is now n the Great Basin Chapter Board, as President
Guest: Alan Riekki, member of the State Board of Engineers & Land Elect.
Alan Riekki swore in all the new officers and directors for 2010. 13.5 Scholarships-Ray Hébert: No report
Matt Gingerich conducted a board orientation for the new directors and
officers. 13.6 Legislative-Li Zhang & Brett Lane: Li will send out email blast
Li Zhang presented and short review of Roberts Rules of Order. to membership to solicit inputs for the upcoming 2011 Nevada State
legislature. She is also working on guide lines. Robert Carrington
II.Officer’s Reports stated that we need a lobbyist to track bills and to help us manage
11.01 President-Matt Gingerich: See website for report. Congratulations any legislation that attacks the profession. The Lobbyist can also help
are in order to Nancy Almanzan for a job well done; Nancy was given us keep in touch with other organizations that support or oppose any
2009 plaque for her service. Nancy presented lapel pins to the 2009 legislation that limit the profession. During the 2009 legislature the
officers. Our new Executive secretary Linda Armstrong was introduced. committee worked with the State Bars legislative team to protect the
interest of the public and the professions on changes to NRS 116 and
11.02 President-Elect-Li Zhang: No report 116B. Bart Dalton also indicated that we need Public and non public
entities need review the legislative wordings.
11.03 Secretary-Ray Hébert:
13.7 Publications – The Nevada Traverse-Terry McHenry: No report
11.03.1 October 16, 2009 Minutes – Previously approved via email vote Any absent reports will need to get to Terry immediately. Traverse will
January 22, 2010; brief discussion on approving minutes by email votes; go out on time March 1st. This will be an all surveyor’s issue. We will be
EXCOM (Executive Committee) meetings will be held at the beginning trying to increase the advertisers. Suggestions for an Advertising task
of each month via telephone; The April board meeting will be held via force were Steve Gurlides and Jerry Juarez. Trent Keenan volunteered
video conference and the July Board meeting will be held in Elko. to help look for advertisers. Send business cards to Terry and you can
get a spot in the traverse very simply. We would encourage as many
11.03.02 December 15, 2009 Minutes-Special Meeting Approved via people as possible to send business cards.
13.8 Conference-Nancy Almanzan: See website for report.
11.03.03 Approval of Minutes of Dec. 23, 2009 Special Meeting
MOTION 10-01: Vern motion to approve, Li Zhang 2nd, motion carries, 13.8.1 2010 NALS/CLSA:
8 ayes. Programs were mailed out last week from CLSA. Marty Crook to head
scholarship auction – need $1000 seed money for scholarship items;
11.04 Treasurer-Vern Little/Ray Hébert: See website for report. MOTION 10-04: Robert Carrington Motioned to approve the seed
Ray reiterated motion from October to move money UBS money. Action money for the scholarship fund. Trent Keenan seconded motion carried
Item: Matt will move this money before next meeting. $5000-Seed – 8 ayes.
money for 2010 conference will be forwarded to CLSA. Need NALS banner for the NALS booth.
Boy scouts to do opening ceremony. Ray Hébert will coordinate.
11.04.1 - 2009 Budget closeout: Trent Keenan indicated a quick book Bill Cuddy is the sponsorship chair for NALS.
correction to report as NALS State account closed out in the black by Li Zhang will be the exhibitor chair for NALS
$690.32 for the year. NALS will have booth at conference-with the following items for sale:
binders, lapel pins, and BLM Manuals. Glen Armstrong will address
11.04.2 - 2010 Preliminary Budget: See website for budget report. volunteers to man the booths. Talk to Glen about anything else at the
MOTION 10-02: Robert Carrington motioned to approve 2010 budget, booth. NALS will host reception for all NALS members on Sunday
Ray Hébert 2nd, motion carries 8 ayes evening of conference in the hospitality suite. CLSA will have a
President’s reception on Sunday evening.
III.Standing Committee Reports
13.1 Constitution and Bylaws (CBL)-Robert Carrington: No written 13.8.2 2011 NALS – TBA: No place has been decided yet. Possibilities
report; would like to have CBL’s reviewed right after the conference. with Utah in Mesquite, California, Hawaii. Nancy will send out an RFP
The committee would like to have all the CBL reviews complete by June when we get closer, maybe when returning from WFPS.
2010 for accompaniment with the 2010 Officers ballots.
13.8.3 2012 NALS – TBA CLSA was suggested.
13.2 Membership-Vern Little & Mike Miller: Nancy Almanzan reported
the membership cards with name, status and ID number should be out 13.9 Ethics-Barbara Littell: no report
by March 1st, 2010. A brief discussion of new licensee waiver of dues for
PLS & LSI’s ensued. Because of the timing with BOELS notification, 13.10 Communications-Ray Hébert/Glen Armstrong: no report
Vern Little would like to see year after notification of pass, be the free NALS Executive Committee now all have access to web site. All
year. This will be placed in the guidelines, not in the CBL’s. Others chapters will have ability to send blasts to members. Passwords will be
would like to hand out the free year at the BOELS ceremony. sent to all participating Presidents.
MOTION 10-03: Vern Little motioned to waive 2010 dues for new LS KT Graphics created website menus. Back issues of the Nevada
and/or LSI for calendar year 2009 providing living in the state. 2nd Bart; Traverse are to be posted on the website. We will need to talk to Terry
motion carries 8 ayes about this item.
Discussion: Membership committee will need to contact BOELS in
December to obtain list of new licensees, Vern to address the details. 13.11 High School Outreach-Jerry Juarez:
Vern Little will be working on the member data base to insure
sustaining members and regular members are getting notified and the 13.11.1 Trig Star-Jerry Juarez
data is correct. $500 Licensing fee for 2010 has been paid to NSPS TrigStar Program.
26 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
NALS State Board of Directors Meeting continued from previous page
13.11.2 Career Fairs-Ray Hébert/Shawn Corkell and Rob Foley Micki has provided statements for NALS 3 accounts, as follows:
Local HS Career fairs are being targeted. A new program “TWIST” is Approximately $72,000 NALS Endowment Account;
being looked at. This program is a 3 day event for teachers to introduce $11,000 Equipment Account; $39,000 Scholarship Fund Account. Only
them to surveying into GIS. interest proceeds will be available for scholarships. As of April we will
have an amount we can use for September.
13.12 Advanced Technology-Li Zhang
14.11 CST Program-Barbara Littell: See website for report.
13.13 Nominations-Chapter Presidents: Vern Little will be following Currently there is no activity in Reno or Southern area for interest.
up on guidelines for nominations. He would like to see some different The CST exams appear to be economy driven. Mining appears to be
procedures in place. looking at surveyors with certification. We believe the CST needs to be
put in the SOQ in order to be effective.
IV. Special Committee Reports
14.1 Great Basin Chapter-John Grange: See website for report. 14.12 NSPS Area 9 Director-Carl CdeBaca: no report
The Chapter will be having a picnic again this summer and would like Carl is a regional representative for Nevada.
all to show up. The State Board will have their third meeting in Elko
and will attend the picnic. Carl C.deBaca will be heading up the Trig V. Unfinished Business-none
Star programs for the local High Schools.
14.2 Lahontan Chapter-Glen Armstrong: See website for report.
VI. New Business
14.3 Southern Nevada Chapter-Bart Dalton: See website for report.
A. Review 2010 Board Meetings and calendar:
CSN has no surveying classes this spring. Dalton is trying to
Southern and Lahontan Chapters need to schedule their golf
create/convert traditional students from classes like Construction
tournaments. Lahontan Chapter is thinking of possibly changing their
management. The Picnic is slated for May 1st, Golf tournament Boulder
meeting date October 14 to Thursday to accommodate state board
city August. The southern chapter will have Continued Education
courses. They will try to make the events at least 30 days from State
events. This is a transition year; Skip Harness, current director, is to
B. Discussion and action on switch PO Box:
retire from LVVWD in 2 years. Dalton is looking into new people to
Switch bank accounts to Reno since Exec Sec. resides in Reno. PO
serve on the board. Economic challenges could change the status of the
Box in Las Vegas is paid through June @. $125/6 months. Noticing
will need to be sent to all affect parties including ACSM, WFPS, other
state associations, etc. We need to have Terry post address change in
14.4 Western Federation of Professional Surveyors-Nancy Almanzan/
Matt Gingerich: See website for report. Next week the WFPS meeting
is in Honolulu in conjunction with Hawaii Conference. WFPS rotates
C. Discussion and action on switch bank accounts:
their quarterly meetings in all states affiliated with WFPS to support
We are proposing to switch to banks with offices in Reno and LV.
the states so they will remain as part of the Federation. Speakers from
Possibilities are: City National and Nevada State Bank
main land to speak at Hawaii conference on varied topics.
MOTION 10-06: Bart Dalton motioned to Give Linda direction
regarding possible choices for banking upon her selection to report
14.5 National Society of Professional Surveyors-Paul Burn
EXCOM and transfer direct checking saving and education accounts,
The new BLM Manual will be distributed approximately February 21,
Seconded by Vern Little.
Discussion: revise motion. Amended motion by Bart Dalton: Move
The spring congress will be held Phoenix. The fall congress will be held
association funds to Neva State bank upon investigation and approval
in Orland, FL in October or Nov. to coincide with ASPRS. Congress will
of said bank, by the EXCOMM. Seconded by Vern Little - Motion
be out of session during scheduled lobby day, so Lobby day will be local
carried. 8 ayes.
with delegations in each state.
There will be NO electronic version of the BLM Manual; only thin out
D. Contract with Linda Armstrong for Executive Secretary position:
was promo for changes in manual, not a digital rendition. Currently,
MOTION 10-07: Vern Little motioned to approve the contract with
there are Copyright problems with digital manual as contributors are
Linda Armstrong, 2nd Li Zhang
not federal employees and do not follow the same copyright protocols as
Motion carried, 8 ayes. Linda will send pdf of contract to Matt
the government. Therefore there will not be digital version at this time.
MOTION 10-08: Robert Carrington motioned to authorize Matt
14.6 Historical-William Cuddy, absent
Gingerich, Ray Hebert, Li Zhang and Linda Armstrong as signatories to
20 boxes of data remain in the shed. Bill wants to scan all. Some data
the all financial accounts, 2nd. Trent Keenan, Motion carried 8 ayes.
dates back to 1990. The board would like Bill was to destroy older
records. Currently we are awaiting legal advice regarding shredding of
Task force for membership database: Each chapter presidents to help
these documents. We will be talking to an accountant regarding records.
updating the data base.
Robert Carrington will go to the shed and perform an inventory prior to
E. Loretta Moses Telesphere -
Loretta Moses presented an Affinity Program as a possible revenue
14.7 Past Presidents Forum-Bob LaRiverie
stream. This may not be the Affinity partner we are looking for, maybe
The Past presidents will be getting together and suggest improvements
Sams Club or Office Depot or other, Team Mobile. May want to look at
for our organization at the CLSA/NALS conference this spring.
the CLSA web site to see how Affinity Partners may benefit us.
14.8 NALS Executive Board Guidelines-William Cuddy
PDH Certificates will be offered by CLSA during the conference for $25.
Guidelines currently under review are the following:
VII. Adjournment – Matt Gingerich adjourned the meeting at
Executive secretary, Publications and Legislative are targeted for June
MOTION 10-05: Vern Little motioned to approve changes to continuing
“Executive Committee Authority”
education guide lines, Li Zhang seconded, Approved 8 ayes.
The Executive Committee, made up of the President, President-Elect,
Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Secretary, is hereby delegated the
14.9 LSI & Associate Members Forum-Kevin German:
authority by the NALS Board of Directors to act on its behalf in all
There is a need to organize study groups. LSI review helped this year,
specific matters delegated to it and routine administrative matters
but we need a program like Trent and Lisa’s 16 week session. Trent will
relative to the continuity of NALS activities and objectives, within
contact Kevin and provide study material they have amassed. Data may
NALS Board of Directors, provided that all acts of the Executive
be sent to the Executive office to be handed to individual leads.
Committee shall be subject to approval by said Board of Directors.”
14.10 NSPS Foundation- Micki Jefferson
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 27
By Paul Burn, PLS
Nevada NSPS Governor
NSPS: It’s First
What do you know about the organization that has
reetings Surveyors. The current
national and local economic represented the surveying profession on the national level
conditions notwithstanding, I for over 28 years? Here’s your opportunity to learn about
hope this once again finds you in good how NSPS evolved from a Property Survey Division (PSD) of
spirits, and good health. There seems to ACSM, to a Land Survey Division (LSD), and to NSPS in 1981.
be a little more activity these days; let’s Longtime ACSM member (since 1968) Harold Charlier has
hope it becomes sustainable! prepared a 112-page account of the controversies and debates
which have influenced the creation and development of NSPS.
I trust that you have read the highlights The account covers the successes and sometimes failures of
from the fall 2009 ACSM/NSPS meetings. Most of the the many aspects of the organization: the Board of Governors,
questions I have recently received pertain to the new BLM Consolidation, Governmental Affairs, Membership, Public
Manual of Surveying Instructions. The release date for Relations, ALTA Standards, Certified Survey Technicians,
recipients outside the federal government is scheduled for Trig-Star, and NAFTA. The book includes contributing
mid-February. If you haven’t had a chance to order your copy articles from Wendy Lathrop, John Hohol, Curt Sumner, and
from NALS, you may want to get that done right away. As the John Daley. Mr. Charlier has prepared numerous detailed
savings are substantial, they will go fast. If you miss that, but lists documenting when each state became affiliated with
still want to obtain a copy, they can be ordered directly from ACSM/NSPS; who the past NSPS presidents, Area Directors,
the ACSM website (http://www.acsm.net/). and BOG chairs and secretaries were; and who won NSPS
scholarship and other awards. Throughout the book, Mr.
As we head into the year 2010, two items to note: 1.) The Charlier has included his personal recollections of various
observance of National Surveyor’s Week is the week after meetings and encounters, some testy, some amusing. To obtain
President’s Day, as proclaimed by both sides of Congress. your personal copy of NSPS: Its First 28 Years, visit the
I am hoping that we see local and state governments ACSM eStore at www.acsm.net.
acknowledging this week with their own proclamations. As
From NSPS News & Views, Nov. 2009
the effort was substantial to achieve this designation, the
observance on more local levels is yet another chance for the
public to gain a better understanding of what we do. And
the tie to President’s Day is a huge feather in our collective
caps, generating yet more opportunity for conversation and
BLM Public Announcement
2.) Coinciding with this issue’s publication is the CLSA/NALS
Conference, to be held at the end of February, in Reno. The
events and speakers look great, and the committee has been
working long and hard to provide a rewarding time for us all.
My next congress will be in the last week of April. This series
of events will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, in conjunction
with the state conference of APLS. I will be busy preparing
for these meetings, and once again ask for your input on
any national surveying issues that you may have. I am
hoping to hear more about the new membership committee
perspectives that are expected at the upcoming meetings.
More national involvement is becoming even more important
as we all navigate through these times of economic recovery
and the new Administration in Washington. Increasing our
membership numbers is a very good way to have as much
impact on legislation as possible.
Thanks again for all your support, and please join me in
giving thanks to our state board and chapter boards. They
have toiled for all of us, and should be recognized. The
outgoing administrations should be proud of their efforts, and
the incoming boards promise to give their best in service. Also,
if you haven’t yet joined NSPS, please give consideration to
doing that today. In these times of economic uncertainty, we
still have a very good national presence thanks to our strong
membership and representation, both by committees and
affiliates. Remember, it “pays to belong”.
28 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
AREMA’s Dirty The third item on the new list is the blunder of slope chaining.
This is probably of little concern to us in the flat lands of
Ohio; however, in a mountainous state such as Colorado it
Dozen: Survey certainly would be. Given that the railroad is taxed by a linear
measurement of the track, it makes sense that the stationing
along that railroad would be on the slope, and not the horizontal.
Blunders Involving Again, this is probably not a matter of concern in Ohio, but it is
a matter which does help us understand the ultimate purpose of
the railroad valuation map.
Item number four on this list of a dozen blunders pertains to
By Michael G. Buettner the relationship of the centerline of a curving track with respect
Those of you who have attended the “I’ve Been Learning on to the centerline of a curving right-of-way. Every time a train
the Railroad” program at recent PLSO conferences know that rounds a curve, the geometry of that curve is distorted slightly;
I have relied heavily on the input and expertise of Charlie thus, after many months of many trains rounding a curve, the
Tucker in putting together that program. Charlie grew up geometry of that curve is distorted greatly. That is to say, the
in Cincinnati and graduated from the surveying program at centerline of the curving track will no longer be a simple curve,
Ohio State University. After graduation, he worked for fifteen and will deviate in some manner from the centerline of right-of-
years in various roles for the Santa Fe Railway before landing way. Even if no spiral curve is indicated by information from the
with the Farnsworth Group in Denver, Colorado. Through valuation map (also a rare find in my part of Ohio), the repeated
Farnsworth, Charlie specializes in surveys involving railroads movements of trains and maintenance equipment from tangent
throughout the western regions of the United States. His to curve—and likewise from curve to tangent—will render such
extensive experience has now led him to be a chairman for a transition. Thus, as Charlie likes to say, “Using three points on
an American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way a curve to create a centerline is forbidden.” Wherever possible,
Association (AREMA) committee that has created an excellent locating the backtangent and foretangent, creating a point of
professional development course entitled “Railway Surveying intersection, and holding the record curve data, is the preferred
101.” In January 2007, I had the opportunity to attend this method for locating the centerline of the curving track, which
full-day program at a conference in Indianapolis, where Charlie in many cases, but not in all cases, will also be the centerline of
served as the instructor. While there, I learned that the AREMA right-of-way.
committee has expanded their old “Top Ten List of Survey
Blunders” involving railroad properties to a new “Dirty Dozen” That said, this is a good place to discuss the “centerline of right-
list. I thought a review of that new list would make for a good of-way” terminology, which admittedly can be ambiguous. A
article in Ohio Surveying News, and thus—in no particular prime example is the situation where the railroad will acquire
order—I offer the following: additional land on one side of their original property, and not the
other. This was often the case in the late 1800s and early 1900s
The first item on the “Dirty Dozen” list involves blunders that when a second main track was laid alongside the original main
relate to railroad curves. More often than not, railroads define track. Thus, as in the case of the old Pennsylvania Railroad in
their curved rights-of-way by the chord definition—not by the Allen County, the total right-of-way dimension is sometimes
arc definition that would be typical for highway curves. This 82.5 feet—33 feet on one side and 49.5 feet on the other (an
difference in geometry is covered very well in most surveying additional rod was acquired about forty years after the original
textbooks, and can become significant for sharp curves. Charlie strip). In this case, the centerline of right-of-way is generally
reports that some railroads in the Eastern United States did use accepted to be the center of the original 66 foot strip.
an arc definition, although I personally have not come across
such usage in Ohio. Thus, it would serve each surveyor well to The old Erie Railroad near Lima features a more complex
confirm the pertinent definition by analyzing any curve data example. Over the course of a two-mile long curve, the location of
that is available from railroad valuation maps or other related the centerline of right-of-way changes from the eastbound main
records. to the westbound main. Unfortunately, a number of surveyors
have adopted the centerline of a certain track to control
Second on the list is the blunder of relying too much on local boundary lines, and have ignored the fact that the centerline of
tax maps. Charlie advises that such maps are sometimes right-of-way—albeit very difficult to determine—is elsewhere.
nothing more than “cartoons” that depend only on the expertise
of the particular draftsman and the quality of his or her A final example of multiple centerlines occurs when the railroad
references. Just as the diligent surveyor should get copies intentionally improves a curve to accommodate the train. The
of recorded plats for doing lot surveys and such, the diligent old Clover Leaf (TStL&KC) was one of the last railroads to be
surveyor should also be getting copies of the railroad valuation built in Northwest Ohio, wildly meandering to touch a good
maps where a railroad property is involved. These maps form number of towns not already served by a railroad. As train
the basis of how a railroad property is taxed and are considered speeds increased, the original simple curves—and there were
the most official record. The oldest maps date back to 1916, many on this line—were replaced by spiral curves. In the case of
when the Interstate Commerce Commission enacted a “Uniform one three-degree curve in Allen County, the modified centerline
System of Accounts” for all railroads. Unfortunately, only the of track is offset 0.87 feet from the centerline of right-of-way—a
largest U.S. railroad properties—including CSX Transportation significant difference that would have a proportionate effect
(CSXT) and Norfolk Southern (NS) in Ohio—are now required on the acreage of a large parcel. This is the only set of railroad
to update these maps, a matter which by itself is a hot button drawings in my home county which shows any data for spiral
worthy of another article. Ideally, these maps can be found in curves.
some county offices, and the expensive process of ordering maps
on line (I spent over fifty dollars for one illegible map from Returning to our “Dirty Dozen” inventory, the fifth item on the
CSXT) can be avoided. updated list of blunders involves a lack of understanding of how
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 29
AREMA’s Dirty Dozen continued from previous page
railroad property may have been acquired. The folks at AREMA T-rails are still being set vertically along the right-of-way lines
simply mention that not all rights-of-way were conveyed as of railroad properties, with the base of the rail being collinear
strips, but I like to expand on that somewhat further. Even with the right-of-way line and the top of the rail being turned to
within the same railroad property, the right-of-way may have the railroad side of that line. The controlling point on a T-rail is
been acquired in various ways—by a warranty deed, by a quit- where the centerline of the rail intersects the base of the rail—
claim deed, by an easement, or by some other means. Certain the only point on that monument that can be defined without
rights may have been acquired through some sort of license or any ambiguity. If there is a cross cut in the rail, more than likely
agreement, such as driveways or pipeline crossings. Reversion it was put there by a subsequent surveyor to meet his own
clauses may be included within the language of the instrument. immediate needs. Two times in thirty years in Ohio I have found
After several years working with ODOT on federally funded T-rails on railroad property, but both were in the centerline and
projects, we have learned that a solid understanding of such not at the right-of-way line. Not knowing any different, and
matters is essential when examining title. being ecstatic just to find any monument other than the two
parallel rails, I recall measuring to a found cross cut in both
The sixth item on the modified list is the blunder of giving too cases. Likely, many other surveyors have done the same.
much weight to a milepost location. Charlie likes to say that
“mileposts have legs,” and if a surveyor is finding a metal sign The eleventh item on the revised list of blunders is, in my
on a metal post, it is a pretty good bet that the current milepost opinion, also one of the most important items on the list. Just
is not in the same location as the old concrete milepost which like there are surveyors who scale convenient distances off
is shown on the valuation map. In the hierarchy of controlling unreliable tax maps while in the office, there are surveyors who
elements for railroad surveys, the stationing for a milepost is rely too much on fences and lines of occupation while in the field.
below such items as structures, crossing diamonds, turnout A great object lesson that I have presented in the “I’ve Been
locations, and points of frog. Thus, for example, if a location Learning on the
along the railroad is needed to the nearest foot of stationing, Railroad” program involves a surveyor who claimed—apparently
it would be best to determine that location based on a record based on some line of occupation—that the distance from the
station for a nearby bridge abutment or centerline of culvert. centerline of railroad right-of-way was that wonderfully nice
Holding the milepost location is very nearly a last resort, and round number of fifty feet. Had the surveyor studied the railroad
should be used only for general location purposes. valuation map, or studied the deeds by which the railroad
acquired title—and both were available—it would have soon
Item number seven on the new blunder list involves the been discovered that the correct offset distance was
misinterpretation of control points. Since I rarely find any 49.5 feet (recall the above reference to the old Pennsylvania
monument other than the track itself (see item ten below), Railroad). Thus, the reader is hereby warned to not be fooled by
I have a weaker grasp on this item. I have never had the what is found in the field. Please make it a policy to get a copy
occasion to tie to some of the concrete markers that can still of the most original railroad instrument pertaining to title, in
be found along the original Nickel Plate (NYC&StL) and Big addition to the pertinent valuation map.
Four (CCC&StL) properties, neither of which passed through
Allen County. Thus, I honestly don’t know if it is common The twelfth and final item in the AREMA inventory of blunders
practice to use the outside face of the monument or the center has to do with such instruments and maps. I offer this challenge
of the monument as a controlling point. If readers have any to not give up your research beyond the office doors of the
observations regarding this type of monument, your feedback is County Engineer or County Recorder. An important piece of
most assuredly welcome. your survey puzzle may be waiting to be discovered at your
local historical society, or perhaps in some drawer in the nearby
Eighth on the current list of blunders has to do with station ODOT District Office. Being an amateur historian as well as
equations and prorations. Again, I have a rather weak grasp a professional surveyor, I have made such discoveries in both
on this item, because I have never had to deal with it in my of those places. Thus, being a snoop who likes to look at all the
small corner of the world. Suffice it to say, however, that just oldest books and maps—pulling out this drawer and that drawer
as highway plans may have station equations resulting from just to see what is there—can eventually pay off in a big way. I
curve improvements or other alignment changes, the same thing have also obtained railroad information pertinent to my home
is possible for railroads. Watch for abbreviations such as “sc” county in the offices of an adjacent county.
or “pro” on valuation maps, which indicate scaled or prorated
distances, respectively. My favorite research tale is the true story of the City of Lima’s
mysterious “Ordinance Book Vz”. I was bound and determined
The number nine blunder also has to do with the incorrect to find this old book, because the land schedule on the original
interpretation of information on valuation maps. The new list Baltimore and Ohio Railroad valuation map (obtained from the
simply makes note that surveyors sometimes misinterpret National Archives in Washington, D.C. through the gracious
chaining and map calls. Presently, I am researching a boundary efforts of Charlie Tucker) indicated that the railroad had the
dispute where a potential client is claiming a certain distance right to lay track on a certain street as a result of an ordinance
along a property line, based on his interpretation of information recorded in this book. Given that this street is in the downtown
from the valuation map held by the County Engineer. Having area of the city, and right below our office windows at that time,
now seen the source map and a pertinent adjacent map, I am of I desperately wanted a copy of that document for our files. Two
the opinion that the number is actually a “plus” stationing for blocks away, on orderly shelves in the basement of the Municipal
the property line, and not a distance along same. The difference
is about thirty feet. Copies of copies of copies eventually render Building, there was a book one, book two, and so forth, but no
illegible numbers, and I believe that is probably what has Ordinance Book Vz. On a hunch, I went to the county museum,
happened in this particular case. where over the course of many years, I have pulled open
Blunder number ten seems to be an embellishment on blunder anything in their library section that remotely resembles a
number seven. More specifically, it involves T-rails—asking drawer. Sure enough, I found the book I was looking for in the
why were they set and where is the actual point. Out west, place I thought it would most likely be, and happily paid the few
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE u
30 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
AREMA’s Dirty Dozen continued from previous page
dimes to copy the elusive 1854 ordinance that gave the railroad
the right to use that adjacent street. How the book got there is
Another item which may have been considered for the
“Dirty Dozen” list would involve right-of-entry and related by Bartlett C. Dalton, PLS, CFedS,
safety matters. Simply put from Charlie, “You are either WRS, President
on railroad property as a rules qualified employee, a
qualified visitor with a railroad escort, or a trespasser.
There is no exception for surveyors.” Moreover, Charlie
points out that in most cases, your insurance will not cover
you while working on the railroad. If you have never done
T he year 2010 is here and with it comes challenges and
opportunities that few, if any of us, envisioned just two
or three short years ago. It is not starting out to be an
so, please go to the real estate sections of the CSXT and NS easy year for land surveyors in Southern Nevada, but we are
web sites, and review the applications for right-of-entry. If looking forward to serving the land surveying community and
you are ever authorized to be on railroad property, look forward to better times to come.
it would then serve you well to look and act like you
have been there before. Please follow the proper safety
requirements by wearing a hard hat, safety glasses, and In December the 2010 Chapter Board members were installed
steel-toed shoes. at our annual Christmas Party held at the Red Rock Country
Club. Vern Little did a great job as 2009 Southern Chapter
A final matter which may also have been considered for this President. This year’s board is looking forward to serving and
inventory is learning to communicate with the railroad in hopes to carry on the traditions and momentum of recent
terms that they more readily understand. Railroads think years. We had a good turnout for our January meeting. Alan
in terms of regions, divisions, subdivisions, stations, and Riekki, PLS member of the State Board of PE & LS spoke
mileposts, and not in terms of quarter sections and townships. and answered questions concerning the upcoming deadline
Every railroad crossing has a unique seven-character code for the full implementation of the 4-year degree statutes that
(six numbers and one letter) that is usually indicated on a take effect during 2010. As well, Matt Gingerich, 2010 State
small sign attached to the railroad crossbuck. In the case of
Association President, introduced this year’s state officers
some gated crossings, the designation may be stenciled on a
and spoke on goals and the direction of NALS this year.
nearby instrument case. Knowing this code is your best tool for
communicating with the railroad. Linda Armstong, the new Executive Secretary for NALS was
As an object lesson, I recommend choosing a railroad
intersection in your area, then going to www.QhioRail.ohio. The Southern Chapter has plans to sponsor four seminars
gov to find the pertinent information needed for filling out a and workshops through the year to complement the state
typical application for right-of-entry. It is a good practice that association’s offerings. The first one held in January was a
is bound to be helpful for some survey project in your future. high precision leveling seminar in Laughlin, co-sponsored by
For example, the grade crossing below our old office windows APLS and taught by NGS staff members.
at Market Street in Lima carries an AARDOT identification
number of 155679H. Although the railroad owner of the During 2009 the Southern Chapter expanded our High School
crossing is apparent from the AARDOT sign (CSXT), the
Outreach and Career Fair programs and held several Trig-
ownership is listed in the printout, as well as the railroad
division (Detroit), subdivision (Toledo), and milepost (130.41). Star competitions at Southern Nevada area high schools. For
Along with interesting traffic information, photographs and a 2010 we hope to match last year’s success. We recently made
roadway profile may provide other useful information. contact with Clark County School District staff from the
Construction Trades Programs at the Career and Technical
In closing, it is this writer’s hope that at least one item in this Academies in the valley. We will be working with their staff to
article will be helpful for your next survey involving a railroad help them develop a course module that introduces students
property. Careful readers will no longer have an excuse to to the land surveying profession. We have also been invited to
fall victim to one of the “dirty dozen” blunders that have been participate in a valley-wide 2 day career fair for students to be
listed above. Then, when you are authorized to be on railroad held in the infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October
property, remember to “expect a train at any time, on any 2010.
track, in any direction.” The Operation Lifesaver admonition of
“Look, Listen, and Live” can not be emphasized enough when it
We are planning several social activities this year including
comes to railroad safety.
our annual picnic to be held May 1 at Floyd Lamb (Tule
Michael G. Buettner grew up in Lima, Ohio, and graduated Springs) State Park, our annual golf tournament in August at
from the surveying program at Purdue University. He recently the Boulder Creek Golf Course in Boulder City, and we hope to
began his thirtieth year with Kohli & Kaliher Associates, Inc., once again include more outings such as hockey or baseball.
in Lima. Mike has twice presented his “I’ve Been Learning on
the Railroad” program at PLSO conferences (October 2003 at As you can see, we have need for many people to help us. If
Lima; February 2005 at Dayton), and recently presented a one- you’ve ever thought of getting more involved, now is a great
hour version of the program—based on the above article—at a
time. Please contact a member of the board.
Northwest Ohio Chapter/PLSO meeting.
Reprinted with permission from Ohio Surveying News, Vol. 37, Issue No. 2, 2008.
(Bolded and underlined emphasis is this editor’s)
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 31
2010 year. I am pleased that these fine individuals stepped up
to serve this profession and our organization.
Chapter Report The end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, unfortunately for
our profession and Chapter, appear to resemble one another.
by Glen Armstrong PLS, President Snow started in late December and regular storms, both the
weather related kind and the economically related ones have
continued. Our membership is hurting, with more job losses
he 2009 Lahontan Chapter year ended with a bang
announced weekly it seems. It is very hard to lose your job,
at the 2009 Christmas party held at D ‘Andrea Golf
be cut back in hours, and/or watch your friends lose their jobs
Club, the site of last year’s golf tournament. The event
and still be able to put a smile on your face and continue to
was well attended, exceptionally produced and was a great
participate in an association such as ours; yet I think that is
night to introduce and induct the 2010 Lahontan Chapter
exactly what we should be doing. This is a time to regroup,
Officers. The month of December showed our Chapter’s
retrain and reconnect with the local surveyors and survey
greatest strength by obtaining over six hundred dollars worth
managers in your area. Some day this economic disaster will
of Holiday presents for needy families. The funds for the gifts
start to turn, and who most likely than the individual known
were solicited by, purchased by and delivered by members of
and networking with others in the profession will benefit from
this Chapter. This is a tradition that I know will survive this
the recovery. Another casualty of the great recession has
current economic situation.
been a steep decline in the membership of this Chapter. The
membership numbers in 2009 fell below the mark that the
For those not familiar with our board it is understandable
Bylaws of the State require to maintain three representatives
since we have gone through an unexpected, but in the long
to the NALS State Board of Directors. We will no doubt lose
run necessary change in makeup. Close to forty percent
more members before this is over, but the upside is we are
of our board is new this year with a combination of new
becoming a compact and dedicated group.
professionals and experienced ones. I would like to welcome
Lance Smith of NV Energy as one of our newest board
I look forward to seeing all at the CLSA-NALS Conference in
members serving as Director this year; Kevin Almeter of Wood
Reno this year; please come up and say hello. Our Chapter
Rodgers serving as Secretary and Dan Bigrigg of Odyssey
will do its best to make sure you have a good time.
Engineering, who will perform the duties of Treasurer for the
5979 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95822
(866) 421-3465 (916) 422-9631 Fax
Digital Terrain Modeling
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Photo Lab Services
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32 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Boundary Conflict That Wasn’t continued from page 22
There are three things which will express intent: With that presumption of law in mind and with the 660 x 660
deed before us, was it the intent of the scrivener to create a new
1) What the parties said they would do line or to follow an existing line in the record? If we go out on
2) What the parties did the ground and discover evidence that the line has already
1) Whether or not they were satisfied with the been run out, occupied and now is discovered to conflict with
results. the statutorily perfect location of the mathematically defined or
“theoretical” location, are we now charged with determining
These fundamental principles are recognized under the law whether the parties “intent” was to define some “theoretical”
which defines them as: ( and unattainable) position, or is it their intent to follow the
existing line as established in accordance with the rule of law?
1) Assent Is there evidence of their “assent, good faith, and satisfaction”
2) Good Faith in the existing location which is “intended” to establish their
3) Satisfaction boundary? Probably. Did we do the necessary research and gather
all the evidence? We most likely have our answer, if we did.
Once the surveyor discovers evidence which fulfills these
three requirements of law, the boundary location is known. Every The truth lies in the ground, and that’s where it will be resolved.
boundary ever established will fulfill these three requirements. Conflict: created by scriveners, perpetuated and memorialized
with monuments by surveyors.
Several years ago, a surveyor showed me a description that
attempted to describe the “intent” as: “One acre, more or Christopher M. Wickern, PLS, is a licensed surveyor in Arizona,
less, commencing at the place where we stood in the garden Missouri, and a Certified Federal Surveyor, and is currently
yesterday.” The written intention sure doesn’t seem to be practicing with Engineering Surveys & Services in their
sufficient. A visit to the site made this ambiguous description Sedalia, Missouri office: Contact: email@example.com
something that might be manageable after all. A fence
measuring about 208 feet x 208 feet had been built next to John B. Stahl, PLS is a Professional Land Surveyor licensed
the old farmhouse. The fence and the improvements within in Montana and Utah. He is an Adjunct Professor of Land
appear to date from the time of the original conveyance. The Boundary Law at the Salt Lake Community College Land
best evidence of the parties’ intentions just may be what you Surveying AAS Degree Program in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is
discover in and on the ground. also the owner of Cornerstone Professional Land Consulting and
Surveys, Inc. specializing in boundary conflict resolution. Visit
One additional consideration when dealing with intent is, that www.CPLSinc.com
every boundary created must be “intended” to be created. This
simple requirement can form the first test of construction As seen in the Missouri Surveyor, March 2009; reprinted from Backsights &
Foresights, the official publication of the South Dakota Society of Professional Land
for every instrument. Did the scrivener “intend” on following Surveyors, Vol. 19, No. 4, Nov. 2009.
an existing boundary, or did they “intend” on creating a new
boundary? To aid us in the answer, the courts have derived a
Commentary: Four-Year Degree Program continued from page 12
“It has been held frequently by this Court that In my mind the problem has its roots in our image. Land
there is a presumption of law against a grantor Surveying does not enjoy the luxury of having a public image.
retaining a long narrow strip of land next to one Oh, you are thinking I meant to say a “good public image.” No,
of his outside lines, when the description of the I meant just “public image”. It is not that our profession suffers
land granted approximates the description under from a negative public image; it suffers from having little or
NO public image. When young people are graduating from high
which he holds. “Generally, in the absence of
school and making plans for college they often do not consider
facts or circumstances explanatory, it will not be
Land Surveying simply because most of them have never
presumed that a party granting land intends to
heard of it. Until there is increased awareness of what Land
retain a long narrow strip next to one of his lines; Surveyors do, there is not much chance that college enrollment
but if the courses and distances approximate in Land Surveying or Geomatics Engineering will increase.
closely to a line or corner of the tract owned by And since I brought it up, I am not sure I see the wisdom in
the grantor - especially if the description in the changing the name of what we do. We are already involved in
deed corresponds, exactly or substantially, with the a profession that most people don’t understand, so why change
description in the title papers under which the the name to something that doesn’t even show up in “spell
land is held - it will be presumed that the lines check” on my computer? Well, it does make me wonder.
mentioned are intended to reach the corners and
run with the lines of the tract, though the trees In my opinion until recruiting at the high school level
marked and described have disappeared before the increases, a four-year degree requirement is impractical.
making of the deed.” Western Co. v. Peytona Co.,
8 W. Va. 406 (418). Clayton v. County Court, 58 W. The author is owner and principal of Sierra Surveying, Inc., in
Va. 253 (260); Colliery Co. v. Campbell, 72 W. Va. Reno, Nevada. He can be reached at
449; Ahner v. Young, 84 W. Va. 336 (343).”GAS CO.
v. TOWNSEND, 104 W. Va. 279, 139 S.E. 856 (1927)
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 33
34 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010 35
ADVERTISER INDEX for this Issue
Advertiser Page No.
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California Surveying & Drafting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Outside Back Cover
Cartwright Aerial Surveys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
H&S Survey & Laser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
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Kenney Aerial Mapping. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
North American Mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Trimble Navigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
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To receive FREE information about
products and services from advertisers
featured in this issue of The Nevada
Traverse, you may log onto the NALS
Web Page at
www.nv-landsurveyors.org, click on
Nevada Traverse, and you will find a hot
link to the web sites of all advertisers
in this issue. Using these links, you can
go directly to the advertiser(s) of your
choice for inquiries, to request catalogs,
training schedules and
information, or placing orders.
36 The Nevada Traverse Vol. 37, No. 1, 2010
The Nevada Traverse
The Nevada Association of Land Surveyors
Editor: Terry W. McHenry, P.L.S.
NALS Central Office
P.O. Box 20522
Reno, NV 89515
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