Land Use Information: A Critical Survey of U.S. Statistics Including Possibilities for Greater Uniformity

By Marion Clawson; Charles L. Stewart et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
Land Location and Parcel Identification

Ricardo and other early economists stressed the immutable and permanent characteristics of land. Today, we realize that the character of land may be changed by man in ways and to a degree which Ricardo never dreamed of, because the technological capacities of the present are beyond those of his day. By excavation and fill, water areas may be made into land, and vice versa; by drainage or irrigation or both, and areas can be made to produce crops as if they were humid; by treatments which modify the internal structure of the soil, infertile land can be made productive; and in many other ways, some of the basic characteristics of a piece of land may be modified greatly. This is in addition, of course, to structural improvements on the land.

Yet it still remains true that many of the characteristics of land are as immutable and permanent as ever. Above all, the physical location of a piece of the earth's surface cannot be modified by man. Its position in relation to the equator, the poles, and the oceans, and all that depends upon these major location characteristics, is as fixed as ever. In particular, basic climate and geologic history are beyond man's power to alter. By transportation and communication technology, man can materially affect the relation of one piece of land to another, yet the location of each on the earth's surface is unchangeable.

Location is critical to any data regarding land. One must know the boundaries or geographic location of every area to which land data are applied, whether it be a nation, a state, a county, a city, a farm, or a smaller parcel.1

Location is relative, and must be judged in terms of the scale of the study and its purposes. For the novelist, a location in North America or Europe

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1
For the social and economic consequences of uncertain property boundaries and other uncertainties as to land records, especially in the earlier settled States of the Union, see Francis J. Marschner, Boundaries and Records--Eastern Territory of Early Settlement with Historical Notes on the Cadaster ( Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 1960).

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