National Wildfire Coordinating Group

6.11 Base, Township, Range, Sections, & Corners

Base and meridian lines are similar to latitude and longitude lines. Use geographic locations, such as prominent features of the area, as reference points.

Townships are rectangular blocks of land about 6 miles square. The squares are gridded and numbered according to their position north or south of the base line.

Ranges are columns of townships set side by side. They are numbered starting at the meridian that runs through the point of origin of each system. Ranges run east and west.

Sections represent further divisions of a township. A township can be divided into 36 sections. Each section is about 1 square mile. Sections are numbered from the top right, or northeast section, then to the left, and down in an "S" formation. The section below is taken from T.2S., R.2E. Any township can be found by identifying the township number, then the range number, and finally the base and meridian system.

Corners describe areas within a section to provide more specific location information. Corners can be described as northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest. There are corners within corners. For example, the figure below indicates a lightning strike at the point labeled "X" in section 22. The lightning strike is located in the northwest corner of the northwest corner of section 22 of T.2S., R.2E. 

The legal description of land begins with the smallest unit and ends with the largest unit. In the case below, the section location is written as T.2S., R.2E., M.D.M., which describes Township 2 South, Range 2
East, Mt. Diablo Meridian. 
base / meridian chart

Example 1 - What is the township, range, and section of the lightning strike labeled "X" in the figure?

Step 1. Write the township.

Step 2. Write the range.

Step 3. Write the section.

Example 2 - What would you tell the dispatcher is the exact location of the lightning strike using corners?

Step 1. Write the corners.
Northwest corner of the northwest corner

Step 2. Write the section.

Step 3. Write the township and range.
T.2S., R.2E.

NW corner of the NW corner, Section 22, T.2S., R.2E.