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Land Survey Glossary
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UNAPPROVED SURVEY - A cadastral survey which has not, for whatever reason, reached the status of an accepted survey. See ACCEPTED SURVEY. 

UINTAH SPECIAL MERIDIAN - The Uintah Meridian governs surveys in a small part of Utah. It was adopted in 1875. 

UMIAT MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in the northern part of Alaska. It was adopted in 1956. 

UNITED STATES CODE - A compilation, under 50 subjects, or titles, of the general and permanent laws of the United States in force as of an indicated date. Most of the statutes governing the operations of the Bureau of Land Management appear in Title 43, "Public Lands," and title 30, "Mineral Lands and Mining." Many laws relating to Alaska are found in Title 48, "Territories and Insular Possessions." 

UNITED STATES COURTS OF APPEALS - Sometimes U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The middle level of the federal judicial hierarchy. There is one such court in each of the 11 judicial circuits into which the United States is divided. As the name indicates, the jurisdiction is exclusively appellate; they have no original jurisdiction. In cases where a court of appeals has held a State statute invalid because of repugnancy to the Constitution or a law or treaty of the United States, an appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court. In all other cases its decisions are final except as they may be reviewed by the Supreme Court at the latter's discretion. See UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTS and SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTS - The lowest level of the federal judicial hierarchy, whose jurisdiction may include a whole state or only part of it. No "district" crosses state boundaries. These are the only Federal courts where juries are used. They have no appellate jurisdiction; District courts have original jurisdiction of civil cases at common law, in equity, in admiralty, in the enforcement of Acts of Congress and of all prosecutions for crime recognized under the authority of the United States. See UNITED STATES COURTS OF APPEALS and SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. 

UNITED STATES LOCATION MONUMENT - When a U.S. Survey or a Mineral Survey is situated in an area where there are no corners of the public land surveys and no other monuments within two miles, a "location monument" is established for permanent reference of the surveys in that vicinity. Similar monuments were formerly designated United States Mineral Monuments. 


UNITED STATES STATUTES AT LARGE - Laws passed during each session of Congress are, at the end of the session, printed in a bound volume entitled United States Statutes at Large. The public laws and private laws are printed in separate sections. Within each section the laws are arranged chronologically by the date of their approval. When cited, the volume number should precede the abbreviation, Stat., and the page of the volume on which the statute appears should follow it. For example, 17 Stat. 91 is a citation to a statute which may be found on page 91 of Volume 17 of the Statutes at Large. 


UNIVERSAL TRANSVERSE MERCATOR PROJECTION - A special case of the transverse Mercator projection. Abbreviated as the UTM grid, it consists of 60 north-south zones, each 6o wide in longitude. 

UNORGANIZED MINING DISTRICT - Where land office forms, or other forms, have a space to indicate "Mining District" and there is, in fact, no organized mining district, the form is completed by writing the words, "unorganized mining district." See ORGANIZED MINING DISTRICT and MINERAL DISTRICT. 


UNRECORDED DEED - A conveyance of title not registered or recorded according to state statutes. 

UNRESERVED PUBLIC LANDS - Public lands which have not been withdrawn or reserved for general purposes. The public lands which are not affected by a general order of withdrawal, by a mineral withdrawal for classification, or by inclusion within a grazing district under the Taylor Grazing Act, are considered unreserved public lands since they are subject to classification and disposal. 

UNSURVEYED LANDS - Lands not yet surveyed. Fractional section surveys, for example, leave unsurveyed land within a section. The land is known to exist, but the survey has either not yet been authorized or has not yet, for whatever reason, been completed. See COMPLETION SURVEY. 

UPLANDS - 1) Land situated above ordinary high water. 2) Land situated above riparian land or land adjacent to riparian areas but remote from the body of water and having no riparian rights. See ORDINARY HIGH WATER. 

URBAN DISTRICTS - Thickly settled areas (whether in cities or suburbs) or areas where congested traffic often occurs. A highway, even though in the country, on which the traffic is often very heavy, is considered to be urban. 

URBAN SUBDIVISION - A division of property into two or more parcels, usually with street dedications, performed and recorded by a surveyor according to state law and local regulations. 

USE PLAT - A copy of the master title plat and any supplemental master title plats of a township. Use plats show, in addition to the status shown on the master title plat, information concerning use of the lands, such as applications, leases and permits. See MASTER TITLE PLAT and SUPPLEMENTAL MASTER TITLE PLAT. 

U.S. SURVEY - A metes and bounds survey executed to comply with one of various regulations for entry of Public Lands.

USQUE AD FILUM AQUAE (OR VIAE) - Up to the middle of the stream (or road).

UTE MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in a small area in Colorado; it was adopted in 1880. 


VACANT AND UNAPPROPRIATED PUBLIC DOMAIN LANDS - Public domain lands which have never left Federal ownership and have not been reserved, withdrawn, dedicated or set aside for a specific purpose. These lands, some 450 million acres, are mostly in the 11 Western States and Alaska. The vacant and unappropriated public domain is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. 


VARA - A Spanish unit of measurement of various lengths.


VEIN - In mining law, a continuous body of mineral or mineralized rock, filling a seam or fissure in the earth's crust, within defined boundaries in the general mass of the mountain (boundaries which clearly separate it from the neighboring rock), and having a general character of continuity in the direction of its length. A requirement that a miner shall locate his claim "along the vein" means along the out-crop or course of the apex and not along the strike. "Lode," "ledge" and "vein" are synonymous in mining law as well as in common usage. 

VEIN, DISCOVERY - In mining law, that vein which served as a basis of the discovery and location of a mining claim.

VERSUS - A Latin word meaning against. In the title of a cause of action, the name of the plaintiff is put first, followed by the word "versus," then the defendant's name. The word is commonly abbreviated "vs." or "v."

VIS FLUMINIS - In the civil law, the force of a river; the force exerted by a stream or current; water power. 


WAGON ROAD GRANT - A grant of public lands made to a State to aid in the construction of military wagon roads. 

WARRANTY - A promise that a statement is true. In conveyancing, a warranty deed conveys fee title (to the land described) to the grantee and in addition guarantees the grantor will make good the title if it is found wanting. See DEED, BARGAIN AND SALE and PATENT. 

WASHINGTON MERIDAN - 1) The Act of September 28, 1850 (9 Stat. 515), provided for the adoption of the meridian of the observatory at Washington, which passes through the old Naval Observatory at 24th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., as the American Meridian for all astronomic purposes. The meridian of Greenwich was, under this act, adopted for all nautical purposes. The act was repealed August 22, 1912 (37 Stat. 342). During the nearly 62 years the act was in force, the meridional boundaries of the Territories and States of Arizona, Colorado, Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming and the States of Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah were referred to the Washington Meridian, which is 77o 03'02" .3 west of Greenwich, according to Geological Survey Bulletin 1212. Aaron L. Shalowitz, LL.M., Coast and Geodetic Survey, says it is 77o03'06" .276. 2) The principal meridian, adopted in 1803, which governs surveys in the southwestern part of Mississippi is also named the Washington Meridian. 

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES - All waters within the United States which are navigable for the purpose of commerce, or whose navigation successfully aids commerce. 

WAY - A road, street or other passage. Technically, a right of passage over land. 

WAYLEAVE - A right of way over or through land for the carriage of minerals from a mine or quarry. It is an easement of the class called "rights of way," and is generally created by express grant or reservation. 

WEEKS LAW LANDS - Federal acquired lands within National Forest boundaries acquired under 36 Stat. 961, the weeks law. 

WHARFING OUT, RIGHT OF - A right to the exclusive use of submerged lands as by the affixing thereto or the establishment thereon of a permanent structure to some point within a navigable body of water. It presupposes exclusive use and to that extent it may interfere with fishing or navigation. 

WHARF PERMIT - A permit which authorizes the use of a shore-space reserve for wharfage purposes. 

WILDLIFE REFUGE - A reservation for the protection of wildlife. 

WILDLIFE REFUGE EXCHANGE - An exchange whereby the Federal Government receives title to lands within a wildlife refuge. 

WILLIAMETTE MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in Oregon and Washington; it was adopted in 1851. 

WIND RIVER MERIDIAN - The principal meridian governing surveys in a small area in Wyoming; it was adopted in 1875. 

WINZE - In mining, a vertical or steeply inclined passageway driven to connect a mine working with another. 

WITHDRAWAL - An action which restricts the disposition of public lands and which holds them for specific public purposes; also, public lands which have been dedicated to public purposes. See WITHDRAWAL, GENERAL ORDERS OF; RESERVATION. 

WITHDRAWAL, GENERAL ORDERS OF - Under Executive orders Numbers 6910 (Nov. 26, 1934), and 6964 (Feb. 5, 1935), known as the "General Orders of Withdrawal," all vacant public lands in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming were withdrawn for classification. 

WITHIN LIMITS - At less than allowable linear and angular errors of closure as set forth in the Manual of Surveying Instructions. Also within rectangular limits. 

WITNESS - A person who testifies as to what he has observed. See EXPERT WITNESS. 

WITNESS CORNER - A monumented survey point usually on the line of survey near a corner established as a reference when the corner is so situated as to render its monumentation or ready use impracticable. 

WITNESS POINT - A monumented station on a line of the survey, employed to perpetuate an important location without special relation to any regular corner, except that the bearing or distance may be known. 

WITNESS TREE - According to the General Instructions of 1846, and other instructions prior to that year, "Witness trees are signalized and marked as (bearing trees), but the course and distance to them, as well as the small chop, are omitted." Later, all trees used as corner accessories were marked as bearing trees, and the distance and bearing from the corner was recorded. The term "Witness tree" became obsolete. See BEARING TREE. 

WRIT OF ERROR - A process of common law origin, it is a precept issued in writing by an appellate court to a lower court for supposed error in law apparent on record. A writ of error removes nothing to the higher court for reexamination except the law. See APPEAL. 


X - The departure or distance along the east-west axis in a coordinate system. 


Y - The latitude or distance along the north-south axis in a coordinate system. 


ZONE - The unit of division in State Plane Coordinate Systems created where state boundaries extend beyond limits imposed in the design of the projection system. Where the scale error between a geodetic distance and its grid representation exceeds 1 in 10,000 a state was usually divided into two or more zones. A new origin is used for each zone. See DANGER ZONE. 

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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