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How To Access Usgs Benchmarks On Private Property?


tossedsalad
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If a USGS benchmark is on private property, is there any right to access it? I know of one that is in a private wooded area. But I am concerned about going there to GPS it. Why would USGS put a marker on private land? I am sure this has been private for a long, long time. I don't, however, know how old the marker is. It is in Frederick Co, MD. at a waterfall.

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There is no right to access it. Every person must ask for permission to look for and photograph the mark. A surveyor who wants to use the USGS mark must ask for permission, and even the USGS must ask for permission to use it.

 

When asking for permission to find a benchmark is discussed in this forum, most benchmark hunters report that they have very good success when asking for permission to find benchmarks.

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One gray area that I tend to take advantage of is marks along roadways. Usually they are on the road right-of-way, so if the property is rural, farm, or other unoccupied land I may step in and look for the mark without trying to figure out who the owner is. I am pretty sure that although the property is state or local or whatever ownership the road is, that going off the paved road and shoulder may still result in a trespass as some deeds include the right-of-way--it is simply reserved under right of eminent domain to be used for road widening.

 

When a mark is clearly on private property or the ownership is clear I will stop and ask permission. As mentioned by BDT, success rate is typically high. I have never been turned down (although I have had people postpone my search a couple times until someone else was available for permission).

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A licensed surveyor does have a legal right to access marks when practicing their profession. They will always ask for permission. If they don't get it, they will do everthing they can to work around it. If they can't that's when they will enforce their rights. Joe Benchmarker doesn't have the right. You need to ask permission. If it's not forthcoming you don't have the same ability as a surveyor to access the mark. I'm assuming that you are not seeking a mark that might stradle your property line. That changes things.

 

(When it gets ugly Surveyors will often be accompanied by a LEO while doing their job in the hot zone).

Edited by Renegade Knight
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A licensed surveyor does have a legal right to access marks when practicing their profession. They will always ask for permission. If they don't get it, they will do everthing they can to work around it. If they can't that's when they will enforce their rights. Joe Benchmarker doesn't have the right. You need to ask permission. If it's not forthcoming you don't have the same ability as a surveyor to access the mark. I'm assuming that you are not seeking a mark that might stradle your property line. That changes things.

 

(When it gets ugly Surveyors will often be accompanied by a LEO while doing their job in the hot zone).

Renegade,

 

In some States, there is a provision under the Law that can be carried by a bonafied employee of a Licensed Survey company and or engineering form which can be helpful in granting access, but, it is not iron clad. They can still be denied access.

 

In some States, There is no such provision under law, and the Surveyor must take their chances.

 

In any case, even where provided by law, it is not a free pass. There are plenty of things which can go poorly for the Surveyor.

 

Here is a webpage with some helpful info regarding this matter.

 

http://www.rispls.org/Articles/Surveyor%20...0of%20Entry.htm

 

Even with the Law on your side, If a big man with a rifle and a ornery disposition visits you with his big dog of similar disposition, and says he don't whant chew on his poperty. You best git!

 

Permission, up front, is always best to have in any instance.

 

Good luck,

 

Rob

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...In some States, there is a provision under the Law that can be carried by a bonafied employee of a Licensed Survey company and or engineering form which can be helpful in granting access, but, it is not iron clad.  They can still be denied access....

I should have qualified my original post since my knowledge is specific to Idaho. Consulting surveyors on state business and direct employees have the access I described, but I didn't go into detail on the process of how they go from asking permission to being escorted by the sheriff. That process can involve the courts and it can take a long time and it's to be avoided if possible. Essentially it's eminent domain that grants the right. Idaho doesn't appear on your list of states with right of entry laws. That's too bad. Recently on a project I had occasion to learn about this first hand. I learned that while there is a provision for survey work, there is none for environmental work. Our surveyors merely avoided the properties in question since they could easily adapt.

 

That was a good link. The lack of a right of entry law explains why we would virtually at all costs avoid the issue of access without permission.

Edited by Renegade Knight
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Here in Kentucky, where I believe surveyors have to notify the landowner to access land, we had surveyors openly trespass, leave ribbons and steaks (in somewhat abundance), ride ATV's, and done whatever they pleased without notifying us. Needless to say we weren't happy about it.

 

The survey company in question has a very tarnished reputation, claims of trespassing, court cases against them, and possible insurance fraud all come to mind when their name is mentioned.

 

So the moral of the story, don't do what they did, ask permission to go on private property.

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Here in Kentucky, where I believe surveyors have to notify the landowner to access land, we had surveyors openly trespass, leave ribbons and steaks (in somewhat abundance), ride ATV's, and done whatever they pleased without notifying us.

I'm not much of a meat-eater myself, but I think most people would be delighted if surveyors left them a bunch of steaks. :huh:

 

Patty

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