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Land Legal Desc. To Gps Coord.?

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I'm wondering if it is possible to convert a legal land description to a GPS one. I am going searching for a 5 acre plot of land in NM, and have the full legal description (section, township). Problem is, the plot is out in the middle of nowhere, with few features to identify it.

Are there websites or resources anyone knows of to convert the property description to GPS numbers?

Thx, S'marty

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It is not possible to 'convert' a legal property description to a 'GPS one' for a multitude of reasons, but simply put: a legal and recorded property description does not change unless the property (boundary) changes. But I can tell by your question that this is not your intent. It seems to me that you are just looking for approximate coordinates to find the approximate location of the property. Because you are in New Mexico and it is a Public Land Survey State, it would be possible to get the coordinates for the section corners from a USGS Quad map. Topozone is a good source for quad information. Doing a bit of thinking, or possibly some math, you should be able to derive to approximate coordinates to the five acre parcel in question (provided it is a PLSS-type description). Put the coords into you GPSr and go have a look.


If you are, in fact, looking for the exact corners of the property, the only way to truly do this would be to hire a Professional Land Surveyor to do a Boundary Survey. He would take the original property description and 'retrace' it to find the parcel and locate its corners. He may or may not use GPS to to perform the survey, but if you are looking for coordinates (Lat/Long, State Plane, UTM, etc.) for particular property corners, the surveyor can accomodate you. While the GPS is a relatively new tool for the surveyor to use, he is still bound by the old rules (and tools) which were in place when the property was originally defined.


As far as changing the legal property description to include coordinates, that may or may not be possible. Many States and local jurisdictions DO NOT accept coordinates as legaly binding for property measurement. Coordinates, usually State Plane, can be included with a property description, however in the grand scheme of what defines property, coordinates are at the bottom of the list. (Physical monuments and boundary course calls [bearing and distances] or PLSS desciptions being primary.) Again, a local Professional Land Surveyor would know what is binding for your area.


Hope this helps.


- Kewaneh

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There is a utility which will work in Western States including New Mexico that I use all the time. It will convert a township, range, meridian and section into a lot long position within a quarter mile or so. The original program was a DOS program, but a university in Montana has web enabled a version of it and it is very useful, and can also go to reverse, from lat long to TRS.


The web version report gives you a lot of other information including the quad it is on and adjacent quads. It does not effectively link to any maps, so I usually then go to topozone to hone in on the area and extract coordinates, or use usaphotomaps with topo or photos with the lat long provided.


The program is primarily useful for getting you in the right area. Topo maps and photos are much more specific in identifying and locating the actual section lines if they are locatable.


Here is the link:




or TRS2LL web


- j wahl


PS Tadpole, if you want to post or email me the legal, I can go through the process. I have done this several times for similar users in NM. I see this system converted my http to a link so now it is there twice.

Edited by jwahl
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In addition, TopoZone Pro subscribers can just search for Township, Range, and Section coordinates and be taken directly to the topo map showing the center of that section. The UTM coordinates will be displayed directly above the map, and you'll have the answer in a few seconds. If all you ever want to do with TopoZone Pro is convert one set of coordinates once, I don't think it's worth it, but it is certainly possible to do the conversion.


You can get details about TopoZone Pro at the TopoZone Pro page.


- Ed

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