PLSS in Google Earth (PLSGE)

This page briefly describes a free application that runs in the Google Earth desktop client. Please install Google Earth, download PLSGE, and return to this page to learn more. Additional documentation is provided by the PLSGE white paper.

The principal component of PLSGE is a Google Earth implementation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) GeoCommunicator map service. It retrieves multiresolution images of the BLM Public Land Survey System (PLSS). Protracted townships west of the antimeridian are provided by the Alaska Spatial Data Management System (SDMS).

  1. Position the area of interest (AOI) in the viewer.
  2. Check the radio button beside the Townships, Meridians, or Special Surveys network link.
  3. 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 (explain).

© 2014 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.

SECTION GEOCODER

Point Search

The Point Search network link is a Google Earth implementation of the GeoCommunicator Derive LD and Find LD data services. 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.

  1. 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 (explain). 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 (explain).
Alaska and many coastal areas, e.g. FL29 T31S R17E S004, are not currently supported by Derive LD.


© 2014 Google - Image USGS

Figure 2. Section Geocoder

TRS Search

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 subsection (aliquot, lot, donation land claim, exchange, homestead entry, land grant, mineral survey, protracted parcel, small holding claim, townsite, tract, unprotracted parcel, or water) exists.

  1. Optionally, use the Point Search network link to preset initial values to the section level.
  2. 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.
    • See Examples.
  3. Press the Search button on the input form to add the requested parcel to the Search Results folder.
Alaska is not currently supported by Find LD. Nor does Find LD 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.

GEOCOMMUNICATOR IDENTIFY

To review PLSS boundaries identified by the Land Survey Information System (LSIS) in the current view:
  1. Position the area of interest (AOI) in the viewer.
  2. Check the box beside the Identify network link.
  3. On subsequent uses, reposition the AOI 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 (explain).

Figure 3. GeoCommunicator Identify

Click on column headings to sort records. GeoCommunicator map controls and search features do not work in Google Earth.

All images and data are retrieved from remote servers. Data errors, accuracy, and availability are beyond the control of this application.