Hats off to surveyors

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As a registered land surveyor in Virginia since 1993, I wanted to remind the general public that March 20-26 is National Surveyors Week.

Why is there cause for celebration? Land surveyors are the backbone of our land ownership rights in the United States. Land surveyors were instrumental in delineating boundaries between European countries as the North American continent was being explored and territories were being defined. After the War of Independence, the state boundaries were created, cities laid out, and individual parcels of land continued to be surveyed and mapped by surveyors.

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George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were surveyors, as well as Abraham Lincoln. Today surveyors continue to provide an invaluable public service conducting land, hydrographic, road, tunnel, volumetric, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and light detection and ranging (LiDAR or three dimensional) surveys that provide the backbone for residential and industrial land use, ownership and development in the United States.

Through a grassroots effort by land surveyors and others, Congress approved National Surveyors Week and President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation that has been celebrated each March since 1984.

So, when you see a survey crew along the side of a road, or see a surveyor shooting a line across an open field, or see a surveyor walking around with a UFO like disc mounted on a pole (GPS), remember that surveyors are instrumental in the delineation of land, construction of building both residential and commercial structures, building of roads, bridges and tunnels, quantifying excavation of natural materials used for construction, and assisting in disputes involving all the above when needed.

Surveyors must be proficient in math skills, legal research skills, withstand working in adverse environmental conditions, provide on-the-fly arbitration and conflict resolution skills, and have good old-fashioned common sense. I have worked in the surveying field since I was 16 years old (and that was over 50 years ago) and my experiences have been something I would not trade for any other profession.

As a longtime surveyor, I encourage you to join me in celebrating this week and the noble profession of surveying, and the next time you encounter a surveyor, thank him or her for their devotion to a time-honored and cherished profession.


Ben Stagg

Virginia Land Surveyor No. 1983