PLSS in Google Earth (PLSGE)
This page briefly describes a free application that runs in
the Google Earth desktop client. Please install
and return to this page to learn more. Additional documentation is provided
by the PLSGE white paper
01/01/2017 – GeoCommunicator was decommissioned on 12/31/2016 and replaced by
BLM Navigator. We are working with the BLM to restore PLSGE tools.
01/11/2017 – Townships
overlay is restored.
tool will not be restored.
01/18/2017 – Special Surveys
overlay is restored, but lacks labels.
Principal meridians are not currently available in a BLM map
overlay is replaced by Alaska SDMS
09/07/2017 – Section Geocoder
- Point Search
The principal component of PLSGE is a Google Earth implementation of the
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) GeoCommunicator
It retrieves multiresolution images of the BLM Public Land Survey System
Protracted townships west of the antimeridian are provided by the Alaska
Spatial Data Management System
Position the area of interest (AOI) in the viewer.
Check the radio button beside the Townships, Meridians,
or Special Surveys network link. Use the Townships overlay to find
townships and sections. Use the Special Surveys overlay to find other divisions.
On subsequent uses, reposition the AOI and ensure that the network link
is checked and selected.
When Refresh Mode is Automatic, the
overlay is refreshed two seconds after camera movement stops.
When Refresh Mode is Manual, choose Refresh
from the Edit menu, or right-click
and select Refresh in the context menu
© Google -
Image State of Oregon
Figure 1. Townships Overlay
Coverage includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho,
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota,
Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Check the Meridians
overlay to display the
coverage area. Click on the Availability
folder name to test the PLSS map service.
The map service will not return an image for the Townships overlay if the target
resolution is greater than 1 millidegree per pixel. Service parameters are adjusted to allow
township displays at target resolutions up to 2 millidegrees per pixel with a corresponding
decrease in label size. Zoom in to display sections, aliquots, and lots where available.
PLSGE also includes an implementation of the GeoCommunicator Identify service and a facility
to draw approximate PLSS boundaries with links to BLM land records.
The Point Search network link is a Google Earth implementation of the GeoCommunicator
Derive LD and Find LD
This feature should be used in conjunction with the Townships overlay to ensure that
the point of interest (POI) is contained within a section boundary. Click on the
Availability folder name to test the Find LD data service.
Position the POI in the center of the view. One way to
do this is to double-click an unmarked location. To precisely position the
POI in the center of the view, add a placemark at the desired location;
then edit the properties of that placemark and reset the view
For best results, disable automatic tilting (Tools, Options, Navigation,
Do not automatically tilt while zooming) and minimize elevation
exaggeration (Tools, Options, 3D View, Elevation Exaggeration, 0.01).
Check the box beside the Point Search network link.
The section boundary that contains the POI will be added to the
Search Results folder.
A successful point search will also update initial values in the
TRS Search form.
On subsequent uses, reposition the POI and ensure that the network link
is checked and selected. Then choose Refresh from the Edit menu,
or right-click and select Refresh in the context menu
© Google - Image USGS
Figure 2. Section Geocoder
The TRS Search application is a Google Earth implementation of the GeoCommunicator
Find LD data service.
This feature should be used in conjunction with the Townships or
Special Surveys overlay to ensure that the requested township, section, or
(aliquot, lot, donation land claim, exchange, homestead entry, land grant,
mineral survey, protracted parcel, small holding claim, townsite, tract, unprotracted
parcel, or water) exists. Use the Townships overlay to find townships and sections.
Use the Special Surveys overlay to find other divisions.
Optionally, use the Point Search network link to preset initial values to
the section level.
Click on the TRS Search folder name to open a form with input fields for state,
meridian, township, range, section, and subsection.
Mouse-over input fields for brief instructions.
An aliquot number is a series of digits that represents a quartered subdivision with
1 = NE, 2 = SE, 3 = SW, and 4 = NW, e.g.
23 = SESW, 411 = NWNENE, etc.
Subdivision to the 1/4-1/4-1/4-1/4 (2.5-ac) level is supported where available.
Subsection numbers may include an optional suffix preceded by a dash, e.g.
MT20 T4N R7W S031 Mineral Survey 8154-02.
Press the Search button on the input form to add the requested parcel
to the Search Results folder.
Find LD does not currently support suffixes with letters,
e.g. WY06 T55N R100W S032 Lot 64T-B.
Note: To save geocoder results from one Google Earth session to another, right-click
on Search Results and select Save to My Places or Save Place As.
All images and data are retrieved from remote servers. Data errors,
accuracy, and availability are beyond the control of this application.