NB_440_21_20 - NB 440-21-20 PGM – Geospatial Easement Boundary Editing or Reconstruction Cessation
NB 440-21-20 PGM – Geospatial Easement Boundary Editing or Reconstruction Cessation
National Bulletin: 440-21-20 Date: May 25, 2021
Subject: PGM – Geospatial Easement Boundary Editing or Reconstruction Cessation

Purpose.  This bulletin informs NRCS State Offices that the Easement Programs Division (EPD) is conducting on-going work outlined in NB 440-19-13 PGM - Land Records Reconciliation and Boundary Protection Project (National Project) to resolve or reconstruct approximately 7,600 conservation easement geospatial boundaries in the National Easements Geodatabase (NEG). Therefore, the EPD requests States cessation of further Geographic Information System (GIS) editing or reconstructing geospatial polygons representing easement boundaries on conservation easements without coordination and approval by EPD. States are still required to update the NEG with new easement boundaries on a quarterly basis.
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2022

Explanation.   The EPD has identified the need to improve the geospatial fabric of boundaries in the (NEG). EPD has an Interagency Agreement (IAA) with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cadastral Survey Division, as noted in NB 440-19-13 and has GIS contractors through national initiatives to aide in the completion of this effort. The goal of both the BLM IAA and the GIS contractors’ efforts is to resolve attribute discrepancies and improve the geometry and geographic positioning of conservation easement geospatial boundaries. This effort will establish and ensure a congruent, one-to-one relationship between the recorded easement deed, survey plat (if surveyed) and the geospatial boundary so the geospatial boundary represents the legal description and boundary as recorded. This is the boundary that will be utilized on-the-ground during monitoring events.

Through pilot project work conducted under NB 440-19-13 the EPD found the following:

1. The prior “No Overlap” topology rule has caused many existing boundary polygons to be moved inaccurately due to topology overlaps with adjacent easements without proper due diligence being conducted for the overlap. NB 300-21-13, Submitting Geospatial Boundaries and Attributes for Closed Conservation Easements to the NEG ended the “No Overlap” topology rule to avoid continued corrupting of existing boundary data and asked States to request EPD approval to modify/update existing easement boundaries.

2. The National Project reflects that since NEG’s inception, many boundaries submitted were ‘heads-up’ digitized from DOQQ or NAIP imagery even though there were computer aided design and drafting (CAD) files potentially available. EPD recognizes the process of submitting these boundaries could have been clearer in years past and we will be working collaboratively with the States to determine what files exist to allow for the resolution of as many easement boundaries as possible by uploading the best available boundary files.

3. A national standard must be established and followed to standardize procedures and methods to establish, construct, validate, or resolve geospatial boundary polygons to ensure they are congruent with authoritative source documents such as the easement deed and survey plat (if surveyed. If necessary, the use of alternate land management records on stewardship and non-stewardship lands as well as adjacent NRCS easements may also be used to finalize easement boundaries.

The National Project and the related GIS contractor efforts are in place for EPD and NRCS-State offices to collaborate to support the improvement of the geospatial fabric of boundaries in the NEG and for the continued stewardship of the easement GIS land records portfolio held by the agency to further enhance monitoring, business needs and processes.
Until further notice by EPD, all GIS editing or reconstruction of geospatial easement boundaries in the NEG by States should cease. States are no longer authorized to complete any GIS reconciliation and reconstruction on geospatial easement boundary polygons within the NEG without coordination and approval from EPD. Request for editing, reconciliation, or reconstruction of geospatial easement boundaries in the NEG must be created and submitted in Program Activity Management Solution (PAMS) using the Geospatial Boundary Modification request type. The following information should be provided with all requests:

1.The National Easement Staging Tool (NEST) or Conservation Desktop (CD) identification number for the easement

2. Description of the concern

3. The SHP file or files at issue

4. The easement deed

5. The survey (if easement was surveyed)

6. The issue with the NEG boundary

7. Any other pertinent land record information

After issues are resolved and the geospatial boundary is corrected, the new geospatial boundary will meet approval criteria and be ready for upload to the NEG. EPD will provide any additional direction needed to complete the update of the boundary.

This bulletin does not restrict the ability of States to use the reconciliation tool in Conservation Desktop (CD) to lock NEG boundaries and easement land units within CD.     

Contact.   Any questions related to easement boundary management should be directed to Greg Pipkin, land stewardship specialist, by email at greg.pipkin@usda.gov; or Tate Jenkins, realty specialist, by email at tate.jenkins@usda.gov.   


Deputy Chief for Programs  

[NB_440_21_20 - ]