I was sent a detailed map in dwg format that shows a river in the country. The model has a layer called sheets that has 17 rectangles in many orientations which overlap and cover the data i wish to print. There is a layout tab called "Sheet 2 to 17" which show page 17 with a tempalte when the pointer is over the tab similar to Windows 7 Aero, but if you open the layout the page space is blank. I'm not familiar with the use of a layer to break the drawing into multpile overlapping sheets and my end goal is to print the model as the 17 defined sheets on 11 x 17 paper.
Can anyone point me in the correct direction to learn this feature?
The person that sent you the DWG file deleted all the paperspace tabs (except for #2 out of the 17): you need to ask them to share those with you in a new file.
Or as you asking for help recreating all 17 paperspace layouts from scratch? There is no magic to it, you have to create a new layout tab for each of the 17 views you wish to isolate, create a viewport and match up/align with each of the 'rectangles' in modelspace, then while inside each viewport start the LAYER command and viewport-freeze all the layers you do not want to see.
Viewport Freeze: when you start LAYER command while in a viewport, extra columns appear to the right. Expand the pop-up, see then, and explore each's category. One of the columns is for freezing layers only inside the viewport you are in.