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Land Survey Glossary
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​FAIRBANKS MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in east-central Alaska; it was adopted in 1910. FALLING - The distance by which a random line falls to the right or left of a corner on which the true line is to close. Usually the direction of falling is expressed as cardinal. 

FEDERAL LAND - All classes of land owned by the Federal Government. 

FEDERAL POWER PROJECT RESERVATION - A reservation of public lands for use in connection with a power development project under the jurisdiction of the Federal Power Commission. 

FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS - The regulations issued by the General Services Administration implementing the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act. 

FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949 - This law, as amended, sets forth the basic contracting procedures and principles which all civilian agencies must follow. 

FEE - The true meaning of the word "fee" is the same as that of "feud" or "fief," and in its original sense it is distinguished from "allodium," which is defined as a man's own land, possessed in his own right, without owing any rent or service to any superior. In modern English tenures, "fee" means an estate of inheritance clear of any condition, limitation, or restriction to particular heirs, but descendable to the heirs in general, male or female, lineal or collateral. In American law, the terms "fee," "fee simple" and "fee simple absolute" are equivalent. See FEE SIMPLE, FEE TAIL. 

FEE SIMPLE - The estate which a man has where lands are owned by him and his heirs absolutely, with unconditional power of disposition during his life, and descending to his heirs and legal representatives upon his death intestate. Fee simple title to public lands in conveyed by a patent, approved clear list, deed or grant without condition. See APPROVED CLEAR LIST, PATENT, DEED, GRANT, and INTESTATE. 

FEE TAIL - An estate limited to one class of heirs. 

FIELD EXAMINATION - An on-the-ground investigation of certain public lands in regard to valuation, land use, application for entry, mineralization, etc. See FIELD EXAMINATION (Prior to 1910 and FIELD EXAMINER (Prior to 1910). 

FIELD EXAMINATION (Prior to 1910) - A method of checking public land survey field work under the contract system. See FIELD EXAMINER (Prior to 1910), CONTRACT SYSTEM, DIRECT SYSTEM and FIELD EXAMINATION. 

FIELD EXAMINER (Prior to 1910) - A surveyor who was employed by the Government to inspect the accuracy and authenticity of contract surveyors' work. See FIELD EXAMINATION, FIELD EXAMINATION (Prior to 1910), CONTRACT SYSTEM and DIRECT SYSTEM. 

FIELD NOTES - The official written record of the survey, certified by the field surveyor and approved by proper authority. Originally, Field Notes were prepared by hand, but they are now typewritten. See FIELD TABLETS and APPROVED SURVEY. 

FIELD RETURNS - The field notes, reports and plats submitted for acceptance or approval. See FINAL RETURNS and RETURNS. FIELD TABLETS - Notebooks in which the initial information is recorded in the field, and from which the Field Notes are transcribed. See FIELD NOTES. 

FIFTH PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. It was adopted in 1815. 

FINAL CERTIFICATE - A document which evidences that an entryman is entitled to a patent provided that no irregularities are found in connection with his entry. 

FINAL ENTRY - Where an application to acquire title to public lands has been filed in the proper manner and all the requirements of law and the governing regulations have already been complied with, it is a final entry. Final entries may be either cash entries or commuted entries. See CASH ENTRY and COMMUTED HOMESTEAD ENTRY. Also see ENTRY and ORIGINAL ENTRY. 

FINAL RETURNS - In cadastral surveying usage, the field returns are the field notes, reports and plats submitted for acceptance or approval. If some error or omission is found, the field work must be corrected or completed. the corrected and/or completed field returns are referred to as "final returns." See FIELD RETURNS and RETURNS. 

FIRST FORM RECLAMATION WITHDRAWAL - A reclamation withdrawal which embraces public lands that are or may be needed in connection with the construction and maintenance of a reclamation project. See SECOND FORM RECLAMATION WITHDRAWAL. 

FIRST PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN - Sometimes called "Ludlow's Meridian." The line surveyed north from the mouth of the Great Miami River; it is also the line between Ohio and Indiana. It was adopted in 1819 and governs surveys in parts of both Ohio and Indiana. One of six principal meridians named for ordinal numbers, it is abbreviated 1st Prin Mer. See ORDINAL NUMBER. 


FIVE PERCENT RULE - New area amounts are not usually shown on plats of dependent resurveys. They are shown if the area of a vacant subdivision as determined by the dependent resurvey differs from the former area as returned on the original approved plat by more than two acres per normal legal subdivision, or 5%. 

FIXED BOUNDARY - An unchangeable boundary created by operation of law. Examples are: 1) a standard parallel or other control line becomes a fixed boundary on return of areas in adjacent quarter sections. 2) A median line of a nonnavigable stream becomes a fixed boundary after an avulsive change. 3) Meander lines can become fixed boundaries when omitted lands have been created by gross error or fraud in the original survey. 

FLAGMAN - A member of a survey party who gives sights to or takes line from the instrument man and flags distant points along the survey line. Also called "point setter." 

FLORIDA PURCHASE - The second addition of territory originally claimed by a European power to the territory of the United States. It was ceded by Spain in 1819 under a treaty which settled conflicts with Spain in West Florida and defined the boundary between the United States and the Spanish possessions in the Southwest. 

FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ORIGINAL SURVEYOR - Retracement of survey lines using field and survey record evidence to determine the direction and distances measured by the surveyor who created the boundary. The process usually requires remeasurement of topographic calls, search for evidence of the previous survey work, determination of consistent of inconsistent chaining or bearing error in the original survey, and consideration of various conditions at the time the survey was executed as well as the methods and equipment used by the surveyor to be followed. 

FORESHORE - 1) (Shalowitz) According to riparian law, the strip of land between the high and low water marks that is alternately covered and uncovered by the flow of the tide. 2) (T.R. No. 4) The part of the shore, lying between the crest of the seaward berm (or upper limit of wave action at high tide) and the ordinary low water mark, that is ordinarily traversed by the uprush and backrush of the waves as the tides rise and fall. See BEACH, SHORE, BACKSHORE and TIDELANDS. 

FORESIGHT - 1) A sight on a new survey point made in connection with its determination. 2) a distant object intersected by a straight survey line used for checking alinement. See FORESIGHT*. 


FOUND CORNER - An existent corner of the public land surveys which has been recovered by field investigation. 

FOURTH PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN - The part of this principal meridian which was adopted in 1815 governs surveys in part of Illinois. It was extended and the portion which was adopted in 1831 governs surveys in Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. It is abbreviated 4th Prin Mer. 

FRACTIONAL SECTION - A section, which in its original form, contained one or more subdivisions of less than forty (40) acres due to irregular exterior boundaries, or due to the encroachment of a meandered body of water or other land which could not properly be surveyed or disposed of as an aliquot part of that section. 

FRACTIONAL TOWNSHIP - A township containing less than 36 normal sections, usually because of invasion by a segregated body of water, or by other land which cannot properly be surveyed as part of that township or by closing 

the public-land surveys on State boundaries or other limiting lines. Half ranges and half townships are fractional 

townships by definition. 

FRAGMENTARY SURVEYS - Surveys required to identify parts of townships and sections not completed in original surveys. This may include partially surveyed sections, omitted public land islands and other lands of substantial value and extent that for various reasons were not included in the original surveys. Surveys of this type frequently require consideration of the question of title prior to the extension of the former surveys. 

FREE AND CLEAR - The title to property is said to be "free and clear" when it is not encumbered by any lien; but it is said that agreement to convey land "free and clear" is satisfied by a conveyance passing a title. 

FRONTING - Usually signifies abutting, adjoining, or bordering on, depending on the context. Land abutting on a highway, river, seashore or the like. The land extending along a road, street, river, canal or ocean. The term, as used in statutes relating to assessments for improvements, indicates that there is no intervening land. See ABUT and ADJOINING. 

Source:  Glossary of Cadastral Surveying Terms, 1980,  Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Department of the Interior 
                 * = consult separate BLM Glossary of Mapping Terms, not included herein.

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