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Hello, what is the connection between the USGS, Geodetic Survey and the US Power Squadron? The P/S has reported finding numerous BM's in the 1995-1996 time frame.


On the surface it doesn't seem like there would be a connection, until you understand the entire scope of the program. The Power Squadron entered into what is called a cooperative charting program with the NOAA (The mother agency of the NGS) many years ago. The PS voluntarily perform all kind of in-the-field things that help the NOAA update/maintain many important things. Since geodetic control points are under the control of the NOAA, it makes perfect sense that the Power Squadron would help with these too. You need to remember that the NGS before 1970 was called the US Coast and Geodetic Survey...... and the coast is where the boats are.


If you are just beginning in benchmark hunting, it is a good idea to understand exactly what the geodetic control points are, and what the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) is.....and why the NGS maintains it. Here is a good link to it. Make sure to click on the tabs in the middle of the page to learn/read more, especially the survey marks tab.




Now in your beginning post, you referenced the USGS, which stands for US Geological Survey. This is an entire different government organization than the NGS (formerly known as USC&GS or CGS for short). I know all the government acronyms can get confusing.


The database of listed benchmarks you see on gc.com is maintained by the NGS. They do have some USGS benchmarks in their database that met their standards for inclusion in the NSRS. The Power Squadron will look for any marks in the NGS database, which may include the ones from the USGS. The same goes for us geocachers who benchmark.


Here is a article from about ten years ago, explaining the cooperative charting program between the two organizations. Hope this helps everyone reading who may not know the correlation.




The NOAA Ocean Service and United States Power Squadrons are ready to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of one of the most successful partnerships that has existed between a federal agency and a private organization. Imagine volunteering your own time to spend six hours anchored in a small boat and measuring the speed and direction of tidal currents every 15 minutes. Then you go home, fill out a slew of paperwork and report the results to a government agency. Or perhaps you can imagine volunteering to drive 100 miles in your own car, search for a geodetic survey marker that was set in 1933, and report its condition to that same government agency. Well, if that's your idea of community service, then you should look into joining the United States Power Squadrons.


In 2003, NOAA and USPS will recognize the accomplishments that have been achieved through a program called Cooperative Charting. Under the NOAA Cooperative Charting Program, USPS members submit reports to NOAA on the condition of nautical charts, geodetic control points and the adequacy of tide and current predictions. NOAA uses this information to update its suite of 1,000 nautical charts and the U.S. Coast Pilot, a series of nine books that cover a wide variety of information important to navigators of coastal and intracoastal waters and the Great Lakes. These books contain supplemental information that is difficult to portray on a nautical chart. Topics in the Coast Pilot include channel descriptions, anchorages, bridge and cable clearances, currents, tide and water levels, prominent features, pilotage, towage, weather, ice conditions, wharf descriptions, dangers, routes, traffic separation schemes, small-craft facilities and federal regulations applicable to navigation.


Who are the Power Squadrons?


Organized in 1914, the United States Power Squadrons is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching safe boating classes to the public and teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects to its own members. USPS members are boating families who contribute to their communities by promoting safe boating through education. USPS has some 60,000 members organized into 450 squadrons across the country and in some U.S. territories. USPS is the world's largest non-profit boating organization.


In 1963, NOAA's predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, recognized that maintenance of the suite of nautical charts that cover the U.S. was a challenging task with the sparse resources at hand. Many charts would go uninspected by C&GS surveyors for decades. The idea behind the establishment of the Cooperative Charting Program was for local Power Squadron members to scrutinize their local charts for accuracy and report discrepancies to the government.


Over the years, the program has grown to include reporting of geodetic survey mark recovery to the NOAA National Geodetic Survey. In a typical year, more than 12,000 geodetic marks are recovered and reported to NGS by USPS members. In addition, USPS members conduct tidal current measurements and report the results to the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. More than 2,500 USPS members throughout the country participate in Cooperative Charting each year.


One of the cornerstones of the NOAA Cooperative Charting Program is the "Adopt a Chart" program. Under this activity, local squadrons take ownership of selected NOAA nautical charts in their area. Each year, USPS members inspect their adopted chart for discrepancies and file reports with the NOAA Office of Coast Survey. After a specified number of reports have been submitted, a written acknowledgement of a particular squadron's work is published on new editions of charts. Power Squadrons throughout the country have adopted more than 125 NOAA nautical charts.


Over the last decade, Power Squadron members have become very sophisticated in the type and quality of data they provide to NOAA. Most nautical charting reports are positioned using Differential or Wide Area Augmentation System receivers. Many members collect depths with echo sounders, merge these depths with GPS positions on a computer and forward the data digitally to NOAA.


Most recently, NOAA and USPS have undertaken an initiative to check the accuracy of navigational ranges throughout the country. While steering a boat in a straight line, a series of GPS positions are recorded while on the range. These positions are entered into a text file in a prescribed format, and then forwarded to Coast Survey in an e-mail attachment. Cartographers upload the data into a chart production system and review the data for adequacy. If a discrepancy exists — and they do 20 percent of the time — cartographers reconcile the problem with the U.S. Coast Guard.


NOAA and USPS are preparing to enter a new era in Cooperative Charting. NOAA computer programmers have worked closely with members of the Power Squadrons to develop a Web based data entry system called CCWEB (Coop Charting Web). USPS members will soon have the ability to report all Cooperative Charting activities through this system. CCWEB should drastically increase the ease in which reports can be submitted to NOAA. In addition, the data will arrive in a standard format, making it more readily usable by Coast Survey cartographers. The new system is being beta tested by USPS members in North Carolina. NOAA's Coast Survey has already hosted about six regional workshops on CCWEB. More will be scheduled before the system's full implementation in April 2003.


The celebration of the 40-year partnership between NOAA and USPS has already begun. On June 5, 2002, NOAA and the USPS officials dedicated a commemorative geodetic survey marker at USPS headquarters in Raleigh, N.C. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Tim Keeney attended the event along with USPS Chief Commander Ted Smith. North Carolina congressmen, David E. Price and Bob Etheridge both spoke at the ceremony and praised the constructive partnership between USPS and NOAA.


USPS has proved to be a tremendous asset to NOAA's navigational services programs. In many locations throughout the country, USPS members serve as the agencies '"eyes and ears." Other parts of NOAA are beginning to recognize the value of using Power Squadrons to enhance local marine-related observations. For example, the NOAA National Weather Service is looking into establishing a marine weather observation program with USPS

Edited by LSUFan
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Wow – LSU fan – excellent comprehensive reply! Based on this post and your many previous informative posts I nominate you to be our Educational Ambassador to the World for all new recruits.


WHV714, - I would just like to add one thing. If you see that the Power Squadron has listed a benchmark as “Mark Not Found” do not automatically think that the mark is not there. Many, many times when the Power Squadron has listed a mark as “Not Found” other people have later found the mark. Do not let a Power Squadron “Not Found” dissuade you from looking for a benchmark – it could still be there.

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And lastly, the Power Squadron is no longer actively reporting marks. They used to have incentives for their members to find and report marks, but they discontinued that program a couple of years ago. I don't know exactly what the incentives were -- whether they were carrots or sticks -- but they tended to generate a lot of reports, many of which were dubious accuracy.

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There is irony in this subject matter... I know that the USCG Auxilliary is the civilian arm of the USCG, and the Power Squadron was the voluntary/educational arm, basically like a Coast Guard Club (privatized if you will, and no offense of course). Now I get the connection with the P/S and NOAA.

The irony you ask? I retired from the regular Coast Guard about 17 years ago, mercy sakes... Never knew that the P/S went on survey hunts... cool! Thanks for the info!

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And lastly, the Power Squadron is no longer actively reporting marks. They used to have incentives for their members to find and report marks, but they discontinued that program a couple of years ago. I don't know exactly what the incentives were -- whether they were carrots or sticks -- but they tended to generate a lot of reports, many of which were dubious accuracy.


As I understood it, the Power Squadron would provide lifetime memberships to members that completed a certain amount of 'community service'.

Posting recovery notes on benchmarks (on the NGS site) was considered 'community service'. Unfortunately, the quality and/or accuracy of the recoveries was not a criteria...just the quantity of notes posted/uploaded/reported.


Certainly in many cases the reports were accurate, and the effort to find the mark(s) was appropriate.

Unfortunately, in 'some' cases, the effort to find the mark was limited to slowing the vehicle to 25mph as they passed by...'Nope, I didn't see it!' <_<

Why bother when it didn't matter whether you found the mark or not?

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Wow – LSU fan – excellent comprehensive reply! Based on this post and your many previous informative posts I nominate you to be our Educational Ambassador to the World for all new recruits.



ROFL. Thanks for the comment Tillamurphs. Does this honorary position pay as well as Holograph's Chief Statistical Analyst? It surely couldn't pay less. :lol:

Edited by LSUFan
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