Administrative Boundaries

Data and Documentation

Boundary Legal Descriptions
“a method of describing a particular parcel of land in such a way that it uniquely describes the particular parcel and no other. A legal description may be a simple reference to a lot as shown on a subdivision plat, or be described by metes and bounds. To be adequate, it should be sufficient to locate the property without oral testimony.” Surveyor’s Definition

Identified elements of the Administrative Boundaries Framework dataset:

Element Name Status Steward Definition
State Complete MSL boundary of Montana
County Complete MSL 56 county boundaries
Incorporated City/Town Complete MSL boundaries of the 129 incorporated cities and towns
Federal American Indian Reservations Complete MSL boundaries for the 7 Tribal Nations located
School Districts Complete MSL boundaries for elementary, secondary, and k-12 school districts 
Fire Districts Complete DNRC boundaries for fire districts
Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFD) Complete MSL/DOR urban renewal; industrial; aerospace/ transportation/ technology, and industrial district boundaries

Administrative Boundaries are legally documented and attributed jurisdictional boundaries.  These boundaries define the rights and interests on the land. Ensuring that boundaries, any boundary in the state of Montana, are correctly recorded and drawn is essential for several reasons:

  • Legal: Establishing well-defined, consistent boundaries minimizes legal irregularities.

  • Equitable collection/distribution of funds: Fees, taxes, or grants are associated with a defined area (e.g., fire district).

  • Equitable distribution of benefits: boundary lines define benefit areas (e.g., public water/sewer districts).

  • Mapping: Accurate boundary lines are used in creating paper maps, delivering online spatial-based services, and in public policy decision-making.

  • “Bad” geography: Many new districts rely on existing, erroneous district boundary lines, thus producing a domino effect of inaccurate information.

  • Public knowledge: Public information on district boundary legal descriptions and their corresponding maps should be correct and dependable.