Legal Insight. Business Instinct.

The Value of Knowing What an Acre of Land Is

The Public Land Survey System is a survey method developed for platting and selling land in the United States. It is grid system that enables land to be identified based upon its location in relation to a starting point.

The Boise meridian, located approximately 19 miles from Boise, between the Snake River and the Boise River, governs all land surveys in the State of Idaho.

From the Boise Meridian the entire State of Idaho has been surveyed into Townships that are approximately 36 square miles in size, or six miles on each side. In turn, each square mile, or section as they are known, is surveyed into quarter sections that are 1/4 mile on each size.

Each section consists of 640 acres. An acre of land is equivelant to 43,560 square feet, or 160 square rods. A rod is an old English measure of distance equal to 16.5 feet.

It is said that an acre has its origins in the typical area that could be plowed in one day with a yoke of oxen pulling a wodden plow. Originally an acre was understood to be a parcel of land 66 feet by 660 feet. Today, as a unit of measure, an acre has no prescribed shape; any area that is is 43,560 square feet is an acre.

Unless located in a subdivision, a legal description for a parcel of real property will typically reference the section, township and range of a parcel of real property. A legal description may be as simple as a description of a section or a portion of a section. A surveyor may also describe property using a “metes and bounds” description. Such a description will describe the boundaries of a parcel of real property using features of the geography, along with directions and distances.

In the end, we use surveys and metes and bounds descriptions to describe the location of land. Knowing the location of land is imperative under the law.

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