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Protecting Survey Monuments

Monument

The City of Bellingham's right-of-way and reference monuments are the backbone of our entire infrastructure. Monuments help us establish the limits of public right-of-way, private ownership and public and private easements. Monuments are used to determine the location of our entire infrastructure and for construction and placement of new utilities.

Types of Monuments

A survey monument can control the location of private or public property lines. Many monuments are referred to in property deeds and unless protected, could result in unnecessary costs. It is important to be able to identify and protect survey monuments.

A monument's size can range from a small tack in a lead plug in concrete to a large boulder, a 150- year old Douglas Fir tree, the center of a river, or the crest of a mountain range. Monuments can be either a natural material or man made.

Monuments are not always located on the center of a right-of-way or on a right-of-way/property line. Survey control monuments can be found anywhere in the right-of-way and occasionally on private property. The City of Bellingham's survey staff use a variety of survey applications and databases to locate monuments that are buried or inconspicuous.

Remember to contact us if you think you might disturb a survey monument

Many monuments are stamped with the land surveyor's certificate number. A list of certificate numbers for Professional Land Surveyors can be acquired from the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Below are some examples of monuments.

Monument Removal Permits

A permit (PDF) is required to remove or destroy a survey monument. For more information contact the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Rules for Working with Monuments in the ROW

What is monument destruction?

Removed MonumentWAC 332-120-020 Definitions. The following definitions shall apply to this chapter:

Removal or destruction: The physical disturbance or covering of a monument such that the survey point is no longer visible or readily accessible.

Who is responsible for protecting monuments?

WAC 332-120-030 Applicability.

(1) No survey monument shall be removed or destroyed before a permit is obtained as required by this chapter.

(2) Any person, corporation, association, department, or subdivision of the state, county or municipality responsible for an activity that may cause a survey monument to be removed or destroyed shall be responsible for ensuring that the original survey point is perpetuated. It shall be the responsibility of the governmental agency or others performing construction work or other activity (including road or street resurfacing projects) to adequately search the records and the physical area of the proposed construction work or other activity for the purpose of locating and referencing any known or existing survey monuments.

To learn more see the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

What about monuments disturbed by construction activities?

RCW 58.09.130 Monuments disturbed by construction activities -- Procedure -- Requirements.

Saw CutWhen adequate records exist as to the location of subdivision, tract, street, or highway monuments, such monuments shall be located and referenced by or under the direction of a land surveyor at the time when streets or highways are reconstructed or relocated, or when other construction or activity affects their perpetuation. Whenever practical a suitable monument shall be reset in the surface of the new construction. In all other cases permanent witness monuments shall be set to perpetuate the location of preexisting monuments. Additionally, sufficient controlling monuments shall be retained or replaced in their original positions to enable land lines, property corners, elevations and tract boundaries to be reestablished without requiring surveys originating from monuments other than the ones disturbed by the current construction or activity.

It shall be the responsibility of the governmental agency or others performing construction work or other activity to provide for the monumentation required by this section. It shall be the duty of every land surveyor to cooperate with such governmental agency or other person in matters of maps, field notes, and other pertinent records. Monuments set to mark the limiting lines of highways, roads, or streets shall not be deemed adequate for this purpose unless specifically noted on the records of the improvement works with direct ties in bearing or azimuth and distance between those and other monuments of record. [1973 c 50 ยง 13.]

To learn more see the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

Have you found that a monument is unlisted, damaged, destroyed, or different than reported?

If so, please submit a Survey Monument Recovery Report (850KB PDF).  Help the City keep it's survey records up-to-date by filling out a survey monument recovery report when you visit a monument.

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