NETR logo

Public Land Survey System


The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) also known as the Rectangular Survey System is a way of subdividing and describing land in the United States. It was created by the land ordinance of 1785 to survey land ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris in the year 1783. PLSS surveys are applicable for portions of (30) states.

The PLSS is based on the establishment of a principal meridian, a north-south line dividing land to the east and west. There are thirty-seven (37) principal meridians, each with a name and a perpendicular baseline. From this axis, rectangular parcels have been measured out and divided.

Information can be found below on each of the thirty-seven (37) principal meridians by searching by the name of the [principal meridian](/glossary/principal-meridian) or geographically by state.