This section provides information on surveying and the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in Wisconsin. Here you can access Survey Control Finder for statewide geodetic control stations, PLSS corners, and CORS data for Wisconsin. Users can also obtain information pertaining to the WI-Height Modernization Program (HMP) which improves the density of geodetic control stations listed in the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) with accurate orthometric heights (elevations) throughout the state. In addition, our resource links provide quick access to a variety of survey-related topics.
Coordinates of PLSS Corners
The ultimate goal is to obtain Survey Grade quality coordinates on all PLSS corners but it must also be understood, that for the current focus of parcel mapping in Wisconsin, alternate accuracies will suffice. The Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP) adopted the Survey Grade definition from the Wisconsin County Surveyors Association as part of their 2016 WLIP Strategic initiative Grant application.
Survey Grade Definition: Coordinates collected under the direction of a Professional Land Surveyor, in a coordinate system allowed by 236.18(2), and obtained by means, methods and equipment capable of repeatable 2 centimeter or better precision.
However, they acknowledged alternative precisions as follows:
Sub-meter: point precision of 1 meter or better
Approximate: point precision within 5 meters or coordinates derived from public records or other relevant information.
Low-accuracy coordinate values can be derived from maps such as the USGS topo maps. A statewide digital version of these points has been compiled from the 1:24,000-scale map series into a GIS data layer called the LandNet which includes not only PLSS section corners and lines but further has been mathematically subdivided down to nominal 1/4 section polygons (nominally 40 acres each). Analysis by several county surveyors has found that LandNet coordinates are typically within 50 feet of their true positions. This level of accuracy meets standards for the USGS top maps.
For more information on coordinates and/or land surveying concerns contact the County Surveyor. (Prior to the 1990’s much of this work would have been done through traditional traverse work).
Finding Modern PLSS Monuments In The Field
WHO TO ASK FOR ADVICE; TRESPASS ISSUES
Professionals are the best source for assistance in locating PLSS monuments. Land surveyors work in private practice and many counties and cities have a staff surveyor. Each county has a land information office. Be aware that in reaching the location of some monuments you may be trespassing on private land.
If you become aware of a PLSS monument that has been disturbed, report this immediately to the county (surveyor or land information office) or municipality (surveyor or engineer). Do not attempt to “repair” or “restore” any such damage as you may actually make matters worse.