Township, Range and Section user guide

Introduction to PLSS

One of the databases that makes it easy to map your farm or ranch is PLSS. You can read more about it in Wikipedia

A basic building block with which we work is a quarter quarter section (qqsection), which is oftentimes a 40 acre parcel. You can add any of them to your farm definition. For standard qq sections we have an algorithmic approximate generation of quarter quarter quarter quarter sections (q4section), which allows building blocks down to a 2.5 acre parcel.

Our database also contains lots, which are irregular size and shape due to the curvature of the Earth.

In order to use full PLSS functionality and search by township, range and section you will need to log into the system using a Google, Facebook or Twitter account. This will also allow saving of the project so that you can work in stages.

Farm parcel identification

Our system identifies every qqsection by drilling down some hierarchical information about it:

  • Meridian - identified by the name, for example "Boise Meridian"
  • Township - identified by Township index and direction from baseline, for example "7S", which means seventh township south of baseline
  • Range - identified by Township index and direction from the principal meridian, for example "4E", which means fourth township east of the meridian
  • Section - identified by Section number within a township, for example "22"
  • quarter quarter identified by four letter location designator, for example "NENW", which means northeast quarter of northwest quarter of the section

On our items list display the qqsection is represented as "Boise Meridian 7S 4E 22 NENW"

To identify q4sections we just add additional four letters to location designator for example "Boise Meridian 7S 4E 22 NWNWSWNW"

Searching for PLLS legal descriptions on the map Show mobile version

Main view with qqsection found
Figure 1: Main view with qqsection found - click to enlarge

When you click any point on the map it send the query to our backend system with the coordinates of clicked point. We try to find any qqsection (or other shape) that contains this location. If we find it we will display it - see figure 1. We also display a box with qqsection description. There is a link inside it which allows you to add this qqsection to your current farm project.

Near the top left corner of map you will find a checkbox allowing you to enable q4section lookup. If you check the box our algorithms will also search among generated q4sections. If we find a qqsection you will see something similar to figure 2. The q4section is selected, but we also display a qqsection containing it. If there are no q4sections containing the clicked point we can display normal qqsection or lot instead

Main view with qqsection found
Figure 2: Main view with q4section found - click to enlarge
Nothing is found in PLSS database
Figure 3: Nothing is found in PLSS database - click to enlarge

Sometimes we cannot find any parcels in our database. In that case you will see a message like on figure 3. In this case, you are encouraged to use the drawing tools to simple draw the parcel shape and make your own custom description.

Using a legal description dialog Show mobile version

Invoke legal description dialog
Figure 4: Invoke legal description dialog - click to enlarge

You can find the Legal description dialog in the dropdown menu on the left - see figure 4.

When you open this dialog you should see something similar to figure 5 You can see three areas in this dialog:

  • section selection area
  • section map area
  • pending changes area

Data in section selection area is pre-populated based on PLLS database, so you will find only valid options for State, Meridian, Township, Range and Section fields. Available values change dynamically according to your selections. For example when you choose Meridian and Township values, then Range and Section fields will contain only values compatible with your choice.

Legal description dialog, areas
Figure 5: Legal description dialog, areas - click to enlarge
Legal description dialog, section map area
Figure 6: Legal description dialog, section map area - click to enlarge

When you have your section selected its map is displayed in the section map area. We will take a closer look at figure 6. In the section map area you can quickly mark qqsections, or lots, you would like to add to your farm. It's enough to touch the right qqsection square. All qqsections added to your farm will be marked with a checkbox.

If your farm contains all qqsections from a single quarter section then you can switch to qsection view. You can also select and deselect all elements using a single button.

Regular qqsections contain additional Q4 link which opens the map of q4sections within this qqsection. You can see this view on figure 7. It works in the same way as the main section map, but on the smaller than 40 acre elements. When you click "Finish q4 edit" button your changes will be moved to the section map.

Legal description dialog, areas
Figure 7: Legal description dialog, q4section view - click to enlarge
Legal description dialog, section map area
Figure 8: Legal description dialog, section map tab with some elements selected, pending changes area with some sections - click to enlarge

On figure 8 you can see the following elements added to the farm:

  • whole southeast quarter of northwest quarter of the section (SE NW)
  • whole northeast quarter of southwest quarter of the section (NE SW)
  • 3 qqsections from northeast quarter of northeast quarter of the section (NE NE)

It is important to note that your changes introduced in the dialog are not saved until you click Save button. You can also discard them using Cancel button. It's possible to introduce changes in more then one section at once.

To make it easier for you to manage larger projects with multiple sections we introduced the third area - pending changes. It contains the list of sections which were selected in section selection tab together with the summary of changes done for each of them. An example list of such changes is visible on figure 8. Every entry in this list is a link. If you click it the section is selected automatically in section selection area

When you click Save button you will see how all changes done in the dialog are applied to your farm definition.

You can use this dialog not only to add new items to your farm definition, but also to remove existing ones. It's enough to open this dialog, uncheck unneeded elements and click Save.