Public Land Survey System (PLSS)*

The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a way of dividing up large parts of the United States into regular square sections that was created in 1785. Participating areas were divided into 6-mile by 6-mile squares called townships, which were then each divided further into 1-mile by 1-mile squares called First Divisions. Each of these were then divided into 1/4-mile by 1/4-mile squares called Second Divisions.

The PLSS data set contains several layers. The PLSS divides large areas of the country into 72,655 Townships, 2,341,948 First Divisions, or 23,574,751 Second Divisions. Also included in the data are the layers Survey System, which covers parts of the country not in the PLSS, Meandered Waters, and Conflicted Areas, a layer made necessary by the imperfect origins of the PLSS which contains a field describing the nature of the area's issue.

Also available is the Texas variant of this system (TXSS).


  • Widely used methodology to categorize large swaths of featureless areas of the country.
  • Standardized system that translates large areas into comprehensively understood geographies.
  • Applications include state oil and gas commissions for administering lease programs, right of access management programs, local government parcel mapping, and Internet search and discovery.
  • Easily tag all your points with their location based on the PLSS coordinate system.

Available File Formats:

Available in Caliper CDF format for use with the latest version of Maptitude and TransCAD. To learn about data availability in other GIS file formats (e.g., shapefile, KML, KMZ, GeoJSON), please contact a Caliper data expert today by emailing or by calling us at +1 617-527-4700.

Price: FREE For Maptitude 2020 and current TransCAD users

Maptitude map with PLSS layers

PLSS Data Map

"Over the past several years I’ve spent dozens if not hundreds of hours trying to figure this out. But the Maptitude PLSS data is wonderful because it covers most of the US and not just Oklahoma and includes Texas which is unique and covers quarter sections and below. Miraculous. I’m not sure that you Yankees understand just how useful this data is to us folks in flyover country. But it’s great. Thanks."

Larry D. Lahman | Mitchell DeClerck | Oklahoma’s Oldest Law Firm Founded 1893

*Requires Maptitude 2020 or current license of TransCAD