Improving the Spatial Accuracy of Reclamation's Land Records Geographic Information System (GIS) Database

Project ID: 6958
Principal Investigator: Bruce Whitesell
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Funded Fiscal Years: 2006 and 2007
Keywords: None

Research Question

* Using commercial off the shelf software, is it possible to convert data housed in electronic spreadsheets and text documents to produce a more accurate GIS database of Reclamation's lands managed by the Oklahoma-Texas Area Office?

Need and Benefit

Reclamation's official land records are housed in the Foundation Information for Real Property Management (FIRM) database. As a part of the Western Water Information Network (WWIN) research project, the tabular data in FIRM were converted to a GIS compatible format, or map layer, based upon the legal land description field and the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) grid. These data form a foundation layer in the WWIN project's Web map services available on Reclamation's intranet. In the near future, this will be a fundamental layer in Reclamation's Enterprise-wide geospatial data holdings as a part of the Bureau of Reclamation Geographic Information System (BORGIS) system.

Without a good representation of where Reclamation's realty interests are found, it is difficult to analyze where we may have issues with endangered species habitat, encroachment, water service contracts, grazing and mineral leases, or any other variables.

Because the FIRM database was not designed or ever intended to be used to generate a GIS data layer, many of the legal land descriptions it contains do not accurately represent the land parcels when mapped. For example, Reclamation actually owns 5 parcels near Norman Dam on Lake Thunderbird, Oklahoma, in the northeast quarter of Section 1 of Township 8 North, Range 1 West. These parcels range in size from 4.4 to 132.07 acres. Due to limited information contained in the legal land description field in FIRM, all 5 of these parcels are drawn as the same 160 acre quarter section of land.

Like many Reclamation Offices, the Oklahoma-Texas Area Office has a variety of land records information in the form of paper documents and maps that are used on a daily basis for managing the lands related to the 11 Reclamation projects the office oversees. Mike Berggren, the Realty Specialist in the Area Office, has produced a set of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets which contain legal land descriptions pulled directly from the deeds and contracts which govern Reclamation's land interests. These legal descriptions include the metes and bounds information which are highly accurate and, if mapped, would produce a much better representation of Reclamation's realty interests than what is currently contained in FIRM. However, this information is not in a format that can be ported directly into the commercial off-the-shelf software (e.g., LandLink and CarteView) used to convert the FIRM data to a GIS compatible data layer.

The purpose of this Science and Technology (S&T) Program research project is to define a methodology for converting these data into a format that can be mapped with commercial off-the-shelf software. It is also hoped that the improved legal land descriptions can be used to update the records housed in the FIRM database. Of the 11 Reclamation projects managed by the Oklahoma-Texas Area Office, one will be selected for processing as a part of this proposal. Because the information in the Word files and Excel spreadsheets is similar for each project, the methodology developed as a part of this project should be directly applicable to the remaining 10 projects. It is also hoped that the process developed here can be applied to realty information which has been or will be compiled in other Reclamation offices.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20