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ALTA/ACSM Standards
When the ACSM Bulletin magazine was still in publication it included a column call "ALTA/ACSM Standards." In the column, Gary Kent, who is Chair of both the NSPS ALTA/ACSM Committee and the joint ALTA/NSPS/Lenders Council Committee, responded to questions raised about some aspect of the standards. NSPS has reinstated this column in NSPS News & Views on a regular (if not weekly) basis.

Please send questions/comments you may have about the standards to NSPS Executive Director Curt Sumner via email at

In a recent edition of NSPS News & Views, our resident ALTA/ACSM survey expert responded to the question below. Subsequently, we received the perspective of another friend, Ed Pagan, an attorney who provides advice to surveyors.


I have a question about ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys for sites that are rapidly changing, i.e. under construction. We are surveying a property that was formerly a large retail store – it was demolished this summer, along with much of the parking lot. Our client's corporate requirements require an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, and they are asking for it now. But at this point, the site is now basically a dirt field at sub-grade, with some curb starting to be built for the new parking lot. For the land title survey, should we "back-date" the survey and show the improvements/conditions that existed before demolition? (We do have that information). Or should we just try to map the site as it exists now, and treat it as a current ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey based on conditions at the site on the day of survey?
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Did you know that the CST Program is recognized by the Department of Labor?

NSPS Radio Hour — Nov. 18, 11 a.m. EDT
Join host Curt Sumner at 11 AM Eastern at as he converses with Carla Meritt, Janet Wilkins, and Erielle Lamb (surveyors in Oregon) about their careers, and their current engagements as surveying instructors at Clark College.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcasted, listen to the archive of the show at Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.

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SHS Rescues Last Bilby Tower
Chas Langelan
Surveyors Historical Society (SHS), assisted by a group of long-time former USC&GS "tower guys," re-erected the last Bilby Tower at Osgood Indiana in October. It now stands in a city park at the hometown of legendary USC&GS surveyor Jasper Bilby, who came up with the ingenious "tower-within-a-tower" design in 1927. It incorporates an inner tower for holding the instrument stable, which never touches the outer tower upon which the survey crew climbs. This solved the problem of accurate long-line triangulation surveying.

U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey's distinctive Bilby Towers were used all over America, and all around the world, for the next 60 years. But after GPS became available, almost every one was sold for scrap.

This is the "Station Couba" tower, which was never scrapped because of inaccessibility. It was rescued by boat from the swamps outside New Orleans in an amphibious demolition & recovery operation conducted by SHS in April 2012, through permission and cooperation from the State of Louisiana. After salvaging the weathered old tower, all its parts were fully reconditioned and re-galvanized. Critical missing pieces were found from various sources, and today "Station Couba" stands once again, shining like new in Indiana — as a monument not only to its visionary surveyor-designer, Jasper Bilby, but to all the intrepid "tower guys" of previous surveying generations, who built and climbed them.

Surveyors Historical Society preserves and celebrates the history of land surveying — our storied profession. A dedication ceremony is being planned for Osgood Indiana on June 14. Please watch for updates about it.

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Senators Oppose Davis-Bacon Policy on Survey Crews, Seek Labor Department Explanation
U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), have added their voices to the chorus of those expressing concern for the new Labor Department policy classifying members of survey crews as "laborers and mechanics" under the Davis-Bacon Act. The Senators sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor requesting documents and asking to be briefed on the policy. For complete background on the Davis-Bacon issue, see the special information page created on the NSPS website.
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FAA Unveils 'Roadmap' for UAV Approvals
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released its first annual Roadmap outlining efforts needed to safely integrate unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) into the nation's airspace. The plan includes numerous references to surveying, aerial photography, and aerial mapping as major anticipated applications of UAV technology.
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Water Resources Bill Goes to Congressional Conference Committee
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced the team of "conferees" that will represent the Senate in conference with the House to resolve differences between the two chambers' water resources bills. The water resources bill provides for the civil works projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including authorizing flood control, inland waterway navigation, flood damage reduction, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery that require considerable surveying and mapping services.
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White House Seeks Input on Future Earth Observation Systems
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a White House agency, has issued a request for information (RFI) on development of the U.S. National Plan for Civil Earth Observations. The Plan will provide a routine process, on a three-year cycle, for assessing the Nation's Earth observation investments; improving data management activities; and enhancing related interagency and international coordination. In particular, the notice states, "The U.S. Government also intends to consider how current and future reference measurements (e.g., bathymetry, geodesy, geolocation, topography) can enable improved observations and information delivery."
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Second Webinar Helps NSPS Members Prepare for Capitol Hill Day

To prepare members for visiting Congress, NSPS Government Affairs consultant John M. Palatiello & Associates, Inc. (JMP&A) conducted a webinar, "Steps to Successfully Secure a Congressional Appointment" on Tuesday, October 15. That webinar has been recorded and is available to all NSPS members, click here (audio begins at 1:45). For the preliminary schedule for the NSPS Fall Business Meeting and Hill Day, click here.

There will be another webinar on Monday, November 18 at 1:00 PM (EST). It will provide guidance on the logistics of Capitol Hill Day and a briefing on the issues to be discussed with Congress. To register for the webinar and Capitol Hill Day, click here. This training will also be presented on the evening before Capitol Hill Day, Wednesday, November 20, at 5:30 PM (EST) at the Sheraton Four Points – BWI, site of the NSPS Fall Business Meeting. To view summaries of the four issues NSPS members will discuss with their Congressmen and Senators, click here.

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NSPS Apparel through Lands End
Click here to order directly from the NSPS Lands End eStore.

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Looking for a Job?
NSPS website links to job opportunities.

Employers interested in posting job opportunities on the NSPS website should contact John D. Hohol at

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Upcoming Seminars/Conferences
Arizona Professional Land Surveyors Association Annual Conference
April 10-12, 2014 - Tucson Marriott University Park
Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers
New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors
Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors
Registration is now open for the 2014 PSLS Surveyors' Conference!
Please join PSLS in Hershey January 12-15 at the 2014 Surveyors’ Conference - our biggest event of the year!
Texas Society of Professional Surveyors - TSPS Annual Convention and Tech Expo, Arlington, TX - October 30 - November 2, 2013
Connecticut Association of Land Surveyors - 46th Annual Meeting, November 1, 2013, Saint Clements Castle, Portland, CT - Keynote Speaker – Wendy Lathrop
For more information contact Kathy Kurland

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Senate committee approves relaxing satellite remote sensing resolution restrictions
Directions Magazine
NOAA is the authority in this matter and DigitalGlobe made a formal request for a change in restrictions earlier this year. Also, the DoD may have concerns about lowering the legal resolutions captured and shared.
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What happens to Google Maps when tectonic plates move?
Scientific American
By George Musser: A couple of weeks ago, I was writing up a description of Einstein's general theory of relativity, and I thought I'd compare the warping of spacetime to the motion of Earth's tectonic plates. Nothing on Earth's surface has fixed coordinates, because the surface is ever-shifting. Same goes for spacetime. But then it struck me: if nothing has fixed coordinates, then how do Google Maps, car nav systems and all the other mapping services get you where you're going?
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Galileo satellites put to the test
GPS World
Europe's next pair of Galileo satellites have been the focus of a busy autumn at the European Space Agency's technical center in the Netherlands, continuing a full-scale campaign to ensure their readiness for space. With the first four Galileos already in orbit, these new versions are the first two of a total 22 Full Operational Capability satellites being built by OHB in Germany with a payload from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in the U.K.
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Best practices for very large boundary surveys
The American Surveyor
When it comes to very large boundary surveys, distances can become distorted over large areas. Because effective boundary surveying requires accurate measurements, anyone doing very large boundary surveys should therefore consider using a bit of geodesy. Let's say you've been tasked with a boundary survey for property in PLSS Sections 2, 3, and 4 along an area known as Three Meadows Creek.
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News & Views
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Dennis Hall, Senior Content Editor, 469.420.2656   
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