NB_440_19_13 - NB 440-19-13 PGM – Land Records Reconciliation and Boundary Protection Project
NB 440-19-13 PGM – Land Records Reconciliation and Boundary Protection Project
National Bulletin: 440-19-13 Date: April 4, 2019
Subject: PGM – Land Records Reconciliation and Boundary Protection Project


Action Requested By: September 30, 2019
 
Purpose.  This bulletin is being issued to inform NRCS State offices that the Easement Programs Division (EPD) is fully exercising the existing interagency Agreement (IAA) for the delivery of survey-related services, as related to legacy stewardship land easements, with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cadastral Survey office.    
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2020
 
Background.  EPD is using the 5-year IAA with BLM for surveying related services to aid in rectifying known easement boundary issues.

The intent of this project is to have BLM Cadastral Survey assist NRCS EPD implement step I of a national-scale effort that requires survey-related expertise and services to aid in the reconciliation of discrepancies or disparities found in geospatial fabric, data entry of geospatial files, easement document reviews, and locational and geographical information system (GIS) aspects of land records for legacy stewardship land easements involved with this project.

This NRCS EPD strategy is a three-step approach. Step I is designed for NRCS to use the BLM and other professionals as specialized expertise to verify, validate, and improve NRCS record data; improve the geospatial fabric; provide specialized educational opportunities and complete reports that will ultimately aide in the completion of steps II and III of this project. All steps have the ultimate goal of protecting NRCS resources and easement interests.

Independent of an audit review, the EPD analyzed national easement boundary data for potential issues that have acreage discrepancies greater than 2 percent or 20 acres between the National Easement Staging Tool (NEST) and the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG), as well as boundaries that were entered in the NEG with a “Method” as being derived from a source other than a legal survey.

The national boundary data analysis resulted in the EPD identifying a total of 7,597 easements for potential boundary issues and divided them into two groups of easements. Group 1 contains 3,263 easements with either a 2-percent or 20-acre acreage difference between the acreage entered from the warranty easement deed (WED) into NEST versus the geospatial acreage (GIS acreage) for the easement boundary listed in the NEG. Group 2 contains 4,334 easements attributed or listed with a “Method” in the NEG with geospatial boundaries that were derived or determined from a source other than a legal boundary survey. Group 1 also contains 2,309 easements from group 2 that were listed with a “Method” as derived from a source other than a legal boundary survey and have either a 2-percent or 20-acre acreage difference between NEST and the NEG. These easements are also considered duplicate with group 2. Therefore, they are only found in group 1. This initial portion of our project comprises step I.

To date, the BLM team has visited 20 NRCS State offices (40 percent) and reviewed approximately 80 percent of the easement case files in the above-mentioned groups 1 and 2.
 
Explanation.  These step-I reviews have found disparities along with other geospatial and tabular discrepancies that have caused NRCS-EPD to develop a national strategy to determine their extents, develop remedies, and to ultimately resolve these issues.

Essentially, this strategy will have a three-step approach involving a records research aspect (step I) currently being conducted by the BLM; a secondary aspect (step II) involving additional office records research and data reconciliation; and a tertiary aspect (step III) involving field-going actions that could result in the delivery of new field observations, an official resurvey, or the creation of additional official records.

Step I Records Research (Discovery and Information Collection)

This initial step will require an onsite visit by BLM employees to select State conservation offices to personally inspect case file records. This effort is “discovery” in nature with the intent to verify the apparent discrepancies in legacy systems, to substantiate the condition and completeness of the casefiles, and to determine the extents of potential challenges.

The BLM reviewers collect, at minimum, the following categories of information:

a) Existence of a boundary survey plat fully executed by a land surveyor in good standing
b) Existence of georeferencing data or information
c) Evidence, or lack thereof, indicating the parcel is unsurveyed
d) Evidence indicating the parcel was “surveyed” by a means other than a by a licensed land surveyor
e) Pertinent bits of information which may provide insight to unique conditions
f) Evidence the conservation easement shares a boundary with a public right-of-way
g) Evidence of proper positioning (bearing and distances) of ingress and egress on the survey plat
h) A comparison of the acreage reflected on the face of the survey plat and the warranty easement deed

The BLM will be required to review all pertinent files or data sets for each subject easement casefile to include items such as title reports, easement deeds (vesting), assessor maps, aerial photography, boundary surveys, and other controlling documents in determining the aforementioned categories.

After initial contact with NRCS-EPD, the BLM will be responsible for scheduling and arranging such visits with the appropriate NRCS State office representatives. The amount of time necessary to review the easement files at the individual State offices will be determined by the number and complexity of cases. Moreover, this portion of the strategy is strictly an office exercise and will not require field visits or observations.

The BLM will provide NRCS-EPD with a report of findings, resolutions, or both that will be used in determining which easements can be immediately remedied and which will then be subjected to subsequent steps of this strategy for resolution.

Step II Office Records Reconciliation (Office-Related Actions)

Any easements containing issues or concerns not resolved during the step I review of this strategy will be evaluated to determine if they will be subjected to this next step for potential resolution.

Essentially, this portion of the strategy will be an attempt to resolve or reconcile disparities and discrepancies between legacy systems, existing records, and the geospatial fabric with whatever means are available without incurring field visits or creating new field records. This step will be completed using existing NRCS State staff in conjunction with either the BLM through the interagency agreement or using other equally qualified experts.

EPD will be providing further guidance, decision factors and procedures pertaining to step II of this process.

Step III Acquisition of New Information (Field-Related Actions)

Any easements containing issues or concerns not resolved in the previous two steps of this strategy will be evaluated to determine if they will be subjected to this step for remedy.
Essentially, this portion of the strategy will obtain additional field information, establish new record data, bolster existing boundary evidence, or obtain new resurveys in a final attempt to resolve or reconcile disparities or discrepancies which could not be reconciled in the previous two steps. This step will be completed using either the BLM through the interagency agreement or other equally qualified experts.

EPD will be providing further guidance, decision factors, and procedures pertaining to step III of this process.

This strategy is not an audit. The findings will not be used for punitive actions. It is meant to be a cooperative and collaborative development and effort between National Headquarters and the individual State offices as an effort to verify, validate, and improve existing casefiles, their contents, and other record sets to allow for the national-scale transformation of raw data into actionable and dependable information. This strategy is strictly NRCS improving the quality of its product to further enhance our clients’ experience.
 
Contact.  Any questions pertaining to this bulletin should be directed to John Glover, Land Stewardship and Programs Branch chief, at john.glover@wdc.usda.gov; Greg Pipkin, land stewardship specialist, at greg.pipkin@wdc.usda.gov; or Tate Jenkins, realty specialist, at tate.jenkins@wdc.usda.gov.
 
 

 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs

 
 
   
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