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During the Board’s May 2021 meeting, Dr. Sean St.Clair, PE was elected to serve as the Board President, effective July 1, 2021. Tim Fassbender, PLS, CWRE, was elected to serve as the Board’s Vice President. The nominations were held as a result of the previous Board President and Vice President leadership terms ending on June 30, 2021.

St.Clair joined the Board during the spring of 2017. Prior to becoming Board President, he served as the Board’s Vice President from 2019-2021.  St.Clair also chaired the Examinations & Qualifications Committee and served on the Joint Compliance Committee with the Geology Board of Examiners, Legislative Committee, Rules & Regulations Committee, and Professional Practices Committee.

St.Clair moved to Oregon in 2004 from Georgia where he was an instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and worked as a Structural Designer for Starzer, Brady, Fagan Associates. Currently he is a professor within the Civil Engineering Department at Oregon Tech, and was previously was the Department Chair for ten years.

St.Clair has spent time as a member of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying’s (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam Development Committee, FE Content Review Study Committee, and has authored sections of the FE Reference Handbook for NCEES. He is also currently a member of the NCEES Education Committee.
Vice President-elect, Fassbender joined the Board during the summer of 2019. During his time with the Board, Fassbender has chaired the Professional Practice Committee and the Legislative Committee and served on the Law Enforcement Committee, Rules & Regulations Committee, and the Oregon-Specific Exams Task Force.

Very active in his profession, Fassbender is the Chair of the Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon, a position he has held on four (4) separate occasions. He has also been awarded the “Surveyor of the Year” award two (2) times, in 1992 and 2019, by the organization. Recently retired, Fassbender was previously the City Surveyor for the City of Eugene.
A graduate of Oregon Tech, he initially gained employment with Orville Caswell in Eugene, OR before transitioning to a position with the Lane County Surveyor’s office. After serving 10 years with the Surveyor’s office, Fassbender returned to the private sector to form the firm of Ford-Ness-Fassbender. Following his partnership with Ford-Ness-Fassbender, Fassbender was hired by the City of Eugene as the City Surveyor, a position he held for over 19 years.

The OSBEELS would like to thank former President, Daren Cone, PE, PLS, for his excellent leadership. He will be continuing to serve as a valuable Board member.

Reflecting back on his term as Board President, Cone said, “I am excited that the OSBEELS will soon be launching a new database system to modernize the licensing and renewal processes and I would like to give praise to the staff at OSBEELS for keeping the core business functions of the agency going during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Board would like to thank Jason Kent, PE, for his eight (8) years of service on the Board. First appointed in the fall of 2013, during his time with the Board, Kent served as the President of the Board from 2015-2017 and Chaired the Law Enforcement Committee in recent years. In addition to his Board leadership roles, Kent served on the Examinations and Qualifications and Rules and Regulations Committees, as well as the Digital Signatures Task Force and the Joint Compliance Committee with the Oregon Board of Geologist Examiners. Further, he’s also served as a Board representative on several committees with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES).  

Currently, Kent is a water resources engineer who serves as a Senior Consultant with Kleinschmidt Associates. Possessing over 20 years of experience in water resource engineering and as a project manager, he has conducted water resources projects in Oregon, the western United States, and Europe involving stream restoration, fish passage and deterrence, dam removal, fish habitat analysis, flood hazard mapping, and bridge and culvert design.     
Kent is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, where he has been active in his local chapter and the Environmental & Water Resources Institute. He is also actively licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.  
Reflecting on his time with the Board Kent said, “the most impactful action the Board took during my tenure was the retooling of the registration statutes and rules in 2015 and 2016, particularly SB 297 that simplified the registration rules and matched them with the updated NCEES testing procedures for FE, PE, FLS, and PLS examinations. The result is a registration process that is much easier to understand and follow”.

With his time on the Board behind him, Kent is looking forward to traveling more with his family post-pandemic and plans on remaining active as a professional engineer and helping advance the visibility of the profession in Oregon.      

“Jason Kent has been an invaluable member of the OSBEELS Board. He has provided tremendous leadership, and has been a model of what an active and passionate board member should be. We will greatly miss his contributions.” Said Board Administrator, Jason Barbee.

The Board and OSBEELS staff would like to thank Jason Kent for his dedication to improving the engineering, land surveying, and photogrammetric mapping professions and wish him the best in future endeavors. 

​Well, it appears as though we’ve made it through the pandemic. As of June 30th, the statewide mask mandate is a thing of the past and we are all able to begin transitioning to whatever the new normal will be. Even with the end of the mask mandate, many state agencies, including OSBEELS, will remain closed to the public until September 1st, 2021. Of course, you can always call or email us if you need assistance.

For the last couple of Examiners, you’ve been receiving updates on our new system, MyOSBEELS, that we had hoped to launch in the first half of 2021. Unfortunately, this project has been delayed by a number of items (like many things during the past 16 months) such as the pandemic, severe weather interruptions, reduced resource availability and employee turnover. These events have caused us to push our launch date into later this summer to early fall. While we all know that anytime a new system is launched there are bound to be unforeseen issues, we want to make sure you know that we are taking plenty of time to test the system before we launch to minimize those issues.

So rest assured we are continuing to work very hard to get this new system up and running to better serve you! Keep an eye out for announcements in the coming weeks regarding an official launch date and additional information about the new online system.

​Each year, with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic, the NCEES issues annual awards to recognized programs that best reflect the organization’s mission to advance licensure for surveyors in order to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

In June, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) announced the recipients of the 2021 Surveying Education Award. For the fifth year in a row, Oregon Tech’s Geomatics program was among the recipients.
Oregon Tech was one of seven college programs from across the country to receive the annual award, and the only program representing the Northwest.

In addition to the award, the NCEES also donated $10,000 to Oregon Tech to assist with the program’s continued efforts to promote the value of licensure in the land surveying profession. The award committee selected the University of Maine School of Engineering Technology program to receive this year’s grand prize.

Located in Klamath Falls, Oregon Tech’s Geomatics program offers students four-year degrees in Surveying and Geographic Information Systems. While completing their coursework, students in the Geomatics program are able to gain valuable land surveying experience through hands-on fieldwork that prepares them for employment and licensure as professional land surveyors.

​Authored by: Tim Fassbender, PLS, CWRE, Board Member

Periodically, the Board is asked whether bathymetric surveying is the practice of land surveying, requiring a Professional Land Surveyor’s license or Professional Engineer’s license.  Using bathymetry is not, in and of itself, the practice of a licensed profession. Instead, bathymetric mapping is a tool, which can be used for activities that require licensure, and for activities that do not require licensure. Whether the surveying done with bathymetry requires OSBEELS depends on whether it falls within the statutes defining the practices of licensed surveying, and whether it then falls within a statutory exemption from licensure.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may explain it best:
Bathymetry is the study of the “beds” or “floors” of water bodies, including the ocean, rivers, streams, and lakes. The term “bathymetry”…has [generally] come to mean “submarine topography,” or the depths and shapes of underwater terrain. In the same way that topographic maps represent the three-dimensional features (or relief) of overland terrain, bathymetric maps illustrate the land that lies underwater.

Surveying under PE Registration
Under OSBEELS’s laws, using bathymetry to perform surveying:

  • To determine area or topography;
  • To establish lines, grades or elevations, or to determine or estimate quantities of materials¹  required, removed or in place; or
  • Required for design and construction layout of engineering and architectural infrastructure,

all requires the individual surveying to be a licensed Professional Engineer (see ORS 672.005(1)(c) to (f)).

Surveying under PLS Registration
Subsection (2) of the law, ORS 672.005, also describes the type of bathymetric surveying work which only a licensed Professional Land Surveyor may undertake, which includes:
(2) “Practice of land surveying” means doing any of the following
(a) Providing or offering to provide for others professional services that…involve:
(A) The making of geometric measurements and gathering of related information pertaining to:
(i) The physical or legal features of the earth;
(ii) Improvements on the earth; or
(iii) The space  above or below the earth; or
(B) The development of measurements and information described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph into graphics, data, maps, plans, reports, descriptions, projects or other survey products.
(b) Performing geodetic surveys [marine geodesy] for others.
(c) Establishing, reestablishing or replacing boundaries or geodetic control monuments or reference  points.
(d) Locating, relocating, establishing, reestablishing or retracing any property lines or boundaries for any tract of [underwater] land… or [“bed or bank”] easement.
(e) Making any survey for the division or subdivision of a tract of land or for the consolidation of tracts of land.
(f) Locating and laying out for others alignments, positions or elevations for the construction of fixed works.
(g) Performing or offering to perform for others any investigation, interpretation or evaluation of, or any consultation about, any of the services described in paragraphs (a) to (f) of this subsection.
(h) Collecting, preparing, manipulating or modifying data related to activities described in paragraphs (a) to (f) of this subsection for others, other than acting as a scrivener.
(j) Making surveys that involve horizontal or vertical mapping control or geodetic control.

However, even if someone is using bathymetry to engage in one of the activities listed above, those activities will not require OSBEELS licensure if they fall under one of the below 18 subsections contained within ORS 672.060, activities not requiring registration.
ORS 672.060(1)
ORS 672.060(2)
ORS 672.060(3)
ORS 672.060(4)
ORS 672.060(5)
ORS 672.060(10)
ORS 672.060(11)
ORS 672.060(12)
ORS 672.060(13)
ORS 672.060(14)
ORS 672.060(16)
ORS 672.060(17)
ORS 672.060(18)
ORS 672.060(19)
ORS 672.060(20)
ORS 672.060(21)
ORS 672.060(22)
ORS 672.060(23)

Discussion Examples
One example previously discussed by the Board of how licensed surveying and exempted surveying can connect in the world of bathymetry was that of using bathymetric surveying to find underwater marine craft or sunken treasure. The Board members opined that, if bathymetric surveying was used to find a sunken ship or sunken treasure, it appeared to fall under the “depicting the distribution of natural or cultural resources, features or phenomena” exemption of ORS 672.060(18), and no OSBEELS license would be required. However, if bathymetric surveying was used to determine who owned the seabed, riverbed, or lake-bed property on which the ship or treasure rested, the exemption would not apply, and the law likely requires a PLS license.

Similarly, if a Professional Land Surveyor and a Professional Engineer were in a boat crossing a river and taking soundings to find the deepest part of the river for the best fishing spot, then their activity may fall under the exemption of ORS 672.060, and it would seem likely neither of them would need to be licensed to locate that spot in the river.  However, if the Professional Engineer used bathymetry to gather information on the riverbed topography to design a bridge for a municipal client, then no exemption appears to apply. And it is likely the Professional Engineer would need to stamp the bathymetric topo map they produced. If the Professional Land Surveyor used bathymetry to determine the thread of the river, itself used to determine the boundary location between the two land owners of both sides of the river then – again – no statutory exemption appears to apply and the Professional Land Surveyor would need to prepare a map showing the information and location, stamped by the Professional Land Surveyor.  

In conclusion, the activities surrounding Bathymetry can be confusing to the lay person and a point of argument between Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors. The Oregon Revised Statutes defining the gathering and use of information for either engineering or land surveying are clear. The confusion comes when separating bathymetric mapping activity from the purpose or use of that bathymetry. It is not bathymetry itself that requires licensure. Instead, licensure is required when the use or purpose of the bathymetric mapping requires professional registration, and determines which type of registration that is (e.g., if used for determining the location of any type of property boundaries or ownership -- then the law typically requires the gathering, mapping and determination to be performed by, or under the direct supervision of, a licensed Professional Land Surveyor).

¹ Note: the OSBEELS has not yet formally addressed the question of
whether water is a “material” within the meaning of this section of law.

Authored by: Tim Fassbender, PLS, CWRE, Board Member

For the purpose of these best practice recommendations, an “approximate corner” is an unofficial property marker set by a Professional Land Surveyor. Approximate corners are sometimes used for things like estimating construction of utilities during subdivision development or when a property owner wants to know how much room they have for landscaping purposes, etc. While land surveyors may have a good reason for setting these approximate corners, it can be confusing and damaging to property owners. This issue has been discussed in the land surveying community for decades. However, the public is not educated on the guidelines and laws that govern land surveying, and often do not understand just how “off-the-record” approximate corners are.
Best Practice Recommendation
A best practice is for Professional Land Surveyors to approach the setting of approximate corners the same way you set true corners. Take all the actions involved in making a survey that establishes a boundary corner.

The Good
Typically, when property owners hire a land surveyor to find their property corner, they depend on the land surveyor to do the necessary work to correctly locate the corner.

The Bad
However, sometimes property owners hire a land surveyor and then tell that land surveyor to simply “look for our corners so we know where they are.” This is often when an approximate corner is set. Under this second scenario, perhaps the land surveyor does not find a monument in the search location, and inserts a lath or hangs flagging at the location, for the property owner to see where the search area was and where their property corner was preliminarily located. The property owner may then decide not to pay the costs of a survey to complete the work and officially set the corners. At that point, the work stops, but the landowner believes that what the land surveyor left behind (the marker that says, “approximate corner,” flag, hub, etc.) is or has matured into their property corner.  

The Ugly
Even when a land surveyor is locating approximate corners for good reasons (e.g., to prepare for construction that will ultimately destroy any monuments set, estimating for subdivision utilities, etc.) leaving behind a marker for the approximate corner can lead the landowner to believe their corner has been established. Then the situation comes to OSBEELS attention because a neighbor hires a land surveyor to execute a true boundary survey and finds the approximate corner in gross error, resulting in a heated discussion with the neighbor, litigation, and sometimes law enforcement or worse.

To avoid the “ugly” side of surveying, and to avoid the possibility of an OSBEELS investigation, it is best to practice diligently and prudently, and avoid the trap of the “approximate corner.”

The Oregon Examiner Newsletter

 Summer 2021

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