Hubbard County Land Surveyor Ryan Miller reviewed his department’s yearly progress with county commissioners on Dec. 3.

Monumentation is the process of establishing boundary lines and fixing the corner positions of each township section.

He reported that three county property corners in Schoolcraft Township had to be returned to their correct positions.

In 2010, Miller said he had done an extensive survey in this area and set the property corners “because there was an issue with where the boundary lines were.”

This fall, prior to a county timber sale in that area, a county employee discovered that northwest, northeast and southeast corners were off by 51, 78 and 110 feet, respectively. The southwest stake was “pounded down so you couldn’t see it,” Miller said. Property signs were posted as well.

When Miller returned the stakes to their original locations, two of them dropped into the hole that had been there, “so it was pretty obvious that they had been moved.” Miller said he talked to a nearby property owner who “claimed to know nothing about it.”

“I just let them know it is illegal to move property corners, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it. I let them know it’s frustrating. We’re trying to do this for the public, and then for them to be moved it costs us money and time to go out there and double-check them,” he said. “That was just an unfortunate incident, and hopefully isolated. I just wanted you to know this is an issue that can and does happen.”

County commissioner Char Christenson asked what would be the advantage of moving a marker a few feet.

Miller speculated that, since this area is tax-forfeited land, moving the markers would keep hunters off “because the hunters don’t really know where the lines are.”

Total monumentation

Miller reported that 3,041 of the county’s 3,664 total corners – or 83 percent – have been certified, as of Nov. 26.

Corners are marked with aluminum-capped rebar. The majority of certified corners (2,992) have GPS coordinates.

Miller said a recent study found that the statewide average of monumentation is roughly 50 percent completion. “A lot of the surrounding counties are in the maybe 30 to 40 percent,” he said.

Christenson asked if the low completion rate was due to lack of staffing or difficult land characteristics, like sloughs.

Staffing is a major issue, Miller replied, adding that Crow Wing and Hubbard counties are the only two in northern Minnesota with a full-time surveying office and full-time surveyor. Other counties must rely on private surveyors to certify corners.

Some counties are simply bigger, Miller noted, like St. Louis County and its 30,000 corners, and therefore take longer to certify.

County commissioner Tom Krueger asked about any issues with the remaining 17 percent of uncertified corners in Hubbard County.

There are some corners that have issues, but nothing specifically with landowners, Miller replied. “It’s more so there’s some conflicting evidence that we’re still looking into.”

Monumentation was finished in Henrietta Township this year. Miller said his 2020 goals are to complete White Oak, Lake Hattie and Gutherie townships.