It was the best of times, it was the wettest of times… Much like a famous novel by Charles Dickens, the motif of this story hinges on two important, simultaneous events. For just over a year, Continental Mapping worked simultaneously on multiple large boundary survey projects — miles and miles of boundary survey. This story covers two of the largest surveys in the company’s book of work, one at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the other at Fort Polk, Louisiana. A tale of two boundary surveys, if you will.
Re-establishing property boundaries is no small task: completing just one mile of boundary survey involves several factors including legal research and historical record review; coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies and adjacent property owners; establishing monuments; and dealing with wildlife, weather, and other natural perils.
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
After the Civil War, American military focus shifted to the immense task of settling the west. In early 1869, Major General Phil Sheridan staked out a patch of land deep in Indian Territory that would become Fort Sill. At the time, Oklahoma was virtually off limits to settlement and would not become a state for another 38 years. Fast forward almost 150 years, and the Army’s Fort Sill is stronger than ever at a sprawling 323,760 square miles. Fort Sill is considered one of the premier training facilities in the military, tasked with training the best artillery soldiers in the world.
Fort Sill has grown regularly through the years, but formal tracking of the fort’s real estate holdings had not kept pace. Prior to the project, the most recent boundary survey was performed by the Army in 1936. This meant that in 2014, approximately 25% of the fort’s boundary was missing from the official record. Additionally, a roadway realignment completed several decades prior had never been surveyed. That roadway, as seen above, cuts right through the fort and the adjacent Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On top of that, encroachments and inferior security fencing in remote sections of the base dictated the need for boundary survey.
Continental Mapping was tasked by the US Army Corps of Engineers to perform 75 miles of boundary surveying at Fort Sill. Work has included site investigation, land records research, coordination with local, state and federal agencies, establishing monuments and signs at every corner, and delivering a final survey for recordation at the county courthouse.
The survey research proved to be a significant task involving many historical documents, some dating back to the late 1800s, describing the history of Fort Sill’s boundary. At that time, the boundary was marked by four stones at each corner of the property. Continental Mapping is using all available sources to accurately retrace the boundary including resurvey information from the Bureau of Land Management and US Army as well as local surveys.
Fort Polk, Louisiana
Established in 1941, Fort Polk is a product of World War II. The fort is currently seeing a construction and renovation investment in excess of $300 million over the next several years to bolster operations related to its role as Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The JRTC function allows the Army and the Air Force to coordinate and train with other branches of the military in life-like combat scenarios. These scenarios replicate the challenges inherent with battle, such as media coverage and terrorist activity. The base is critical to military actions around the globe. Also notable is the fort’s economic impact estimated at just over $1.5B for 2014.
Fort Polk has been expanding and renovating through the US Army Land Purchase Program, including the acquisition of roughly 45,000 acres, the largest land acquisition in US Army history. In 2014, the US Army Corps of Engineers requested approximately 16 miles of boundary survey services from Continental Mapping to support that land acquisition.
Work for this project has included establishing angle points, points on line, points of curve, points of tangent, any related witness corners, and reference posts. Significant line clearing was required because of the density of the trees along the boundary line. Those clearings provided line of site between set points on line and angle point monuments. A point on line spacing of 300 feet was used to estimate the number of required fence posts to be set. Surveyors also recorded sealed plats at the local county courthouse.
Beyond internal quality checks and assurance policies, Continental Mapping surveyors also complied and assisted with random monitoring performed by the USACE designated inspector and a monthly 100% inspection of generated documentation and current project data.