NO BOUNDARIES: A Brief Discussion of Alaska Boundary Law

Land surveying has long been considered both an art and a science. It is an art involving elements of history, law, evidence and their interpretation; and a science due to the mathematical and scientific methods employed. This is especially true in Alaska.

As a fairly young state, Alaska has a limited inventory of case law surveyors can pull from and Supreme Court decisions related to boundaries are virtually non-existent. Some guidance can be found through treatises based on case law throughout the federal and state court systems, but this is limited when it comes down to survey and boundary establishment methodology and application specific to Alaska.

Written by Senior Land Surveyor John Bennett, PLS, SR/WA, No Boundaries focuses on the legal guidelines available to the Alaskan surveyor, or the lack thereof, to re-establish boundaries. Two legal cases are referenced as examples, including Lee v. Konrad and Collins v. Hall (Colt Island Juneau), in which R&M provided the survey review and court testimony.

The case examples both represent boundary disputes between adjoining neighbors and illustrate the lack of established guidance in Alaskan boundary law, leaving interpretation open to the court.

Read the entire publication here.

John was scheduled to present on this topic at the 2020 Alaska Surveying & Mapping Conference, which has since been canceled. Check back for updates on future presentation dates.

References
Lee v. Konrad – Alaska Supreme Court 2014
Collins v. Hall – Alaska Supreme Court 2019
The Judicial Function of Surveyors – Justice Thomas M. Cooley 1876

PowerPoint Slides
2020 No Boundaries – Slideshow

John is a Senior Land Surveyor in R&M’s Right-of-Way Services Group, working out of our Fairbanks office. Prior to joining R&M, he served as the Chief of Right-of-Way for the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Northern Region, supervising titles, plans, utilities, appraisals, negotiations, relocations, property management, pre-audit and surveying activities for the aviation, highway and public facility programs. John is a recognized leader in the research and analysis of historic rights of way and has testified as an expert witness in title defense cases. He has made presentations relating to access law and highway rights-of-way in Alaska on behalf of the International Right of Way Association, Alaska Surveying & Mapping Conference and Alaska Society of Professional Land Surveyors.