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Steve Zorichak

With increasing frequency, large surface area measurements are using acres as the most commonly and easily related to unit of area in discussing real estate, open space, forest cutting and water volume if it is at a depth of one foot.

As general information, I would like to offer the following explanations of the relative sizes of the terms used, and a possibly easier method of mentally imaging the real size of large numbers expressed as acres.

As general information, it should be noted that there are 640 acres in a square mile, which is referred to as a “section” or the square one mile on a side that is used for the grid on maps used by surveyors. An acre is 43,560 square feet, or a square measuring about 210 feet on each side. (Visualize roughly the area inside the quarter mile track around a football field.)



In my opinion, it would be a service to your readership to use square miles when the acreage number exceeds 5,000. When 43,560 square feet is divided by 640, the result is 7.812 square miles, or a square about 2.8 miles on each side that would contain 5,000 acres.

Visualize the distance from the Main Vail Rounder to the West Vail Rounder as one side of this square.



Ten thousand acres is about 15.6 square miles, or a square about 3.95 miles on each side. This should show how rapidly the square acres number increases with a small increase in the square miles number.

It then follows that 50,000 acres is about 78 square miles, or 8.8 miles on the side of a square. (The Village at Avon was developed on Lindholm’s 50,000 plus acres.) This would be slightly more than the distance from West Vail to Avon as one side of the square. At an average walking speed of 3 mph, it would be about a 3-hour trip.

208+feet times 208+feet equals 43560 square feet =1 acre



640 acres =1 square mile =1 section

36 sections =1 township = six miles times six miles = 36 square miles

I am sometimes dismayed by those who use the larger numbers while expressing land areas in an effort to make something sound relatively huge, when if it were to be expressed as square miles it may be related to in a much easier and more reasonably modest square mile figure, which is the common measure in geography.

It would appear to me that the environmentalists and real estate brokers are far more prone to use the grander numbers instead of the less sensational and modest appearing number of square miles.

Thank you for allowing me to rid myself of this vexing notion of size description, and I hope that this will be of value to those who are not surveyors and real estate developers.


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