Data Update: PLSS Corner Control Points

In 2015, the Division of Land Surveys was merged with the Arkansas GIS Office. The Division of Land Surveys was created in 1973 with one of its primary goals being maintenance and perpetuation of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) of Arkansas. Many modern-day legal boundaries, used in GIS, are tied to the PLSS including county lines, parcels, court districts, municipal boundaries, congressional districts, school board zones, and more. In most cases, the PLSS is the framework from which other boundaries are created.

Arkansas’s PLSS was first established by the General Land Office between 1815 and roughly 1845. During this period, survey crews traversed over 200,000 miles and set survey marks at an estimated 209,000 section corner locations, laying the foundation for most of Arkansas’s modern-day land boundaries.

Since 1973, the Division of Land Surveys has archived over 18,000 records detailing field restorations of these roughly 200 year old survey markers. For most of the Division’s history, these records have been in paper form. Within the last decade these paper forms were digitized and made searchable in a tabular online database. Over the last two years, the Arkansas GIS Office and the Division of Land Surveys have taken the next step to convert these tabular records into a geospatial layer.

During this two-year period, staff developed a programmatic method to map roughly 80% of these records. About 15% were positioned manually and the remaining 5% were positioned using precision data obtained through traditional field survey methods. Many of these precisely positioned PLSS records were strategically chosen due to their coincidence with important administrative boundaries such as county lines.

It is the agency’s goal to continue to improve the spatial accuracy of this PLSS layer through high precision field survey methods. This is done through in-house and contracted projects as well as through surveyors who participate in the Division’s Corner Restoration Program. This enhancement to spatial accuracy will also improve spatial accuracy of the numerous boundaries tied to the PLSS.

Please see below for additional information regarding how to download and/or view this data.

PLSS Corner Control Points