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Thread: Trespass Law Changes

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    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    Angry Trespass Law Changes

    I don't post much anymore, but I have not seen anyone posting about Senate Bill 201/House Bill 375 that will remove the requirements for a "no trespass" signage. Originally it would have removed any posting requirements. In its current form it will remove section c (see below). The only signage requirement will be reduced to "notice against trespass is given by posting in a reasonably conspicuous manner under the circumstances." I really don't want every landowner, trooper or prosecutor to come up with their own definition of what reasonably conspicuous means.
    These bills are a result of the state trooper/trapper incident last winter. The landowner could have simply make a cardboard sign that meets the requirements and posted it as directed. If these bills pass expect a lot more conflict over trespass issues in the future. The bills seem to be sailing through quickly, so contact your representatives right away.AS 11.46.350. Definition.

    (a) As used in AS 11.46.300 - 11.46.350, unless the context requires otherwise, "enter or remain unlawfully" means to (1) enter or remain in or upon premises or in a propelled vehicle when the premises or propelled vehicle, at the time of the entry or remaining, is not open to the public and when the defendant is not otherwise privileged to do so; (2) fail to leave premises or a propelled vehicle that is open to the public after being lawfully directed to do so personally by the person in charge; or (3) enter or remain upon premises or in a propelled vehicle in violation of a provision in an order issued or filed under AS 18.66.100 - 18.66.180 or issued under former AS 25.35.010 (b) or 25.35.020. (b) For purposes of this section, a person who, without intent to commit a crime on the land, enters or remains upon unimproved and apparently unused land, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, is privileged to do so unless (1) notice against trespass is personally communicated to that person by the owner of the land or some other authorized person; or (2) notice against trespass is given by posting in a reasonably conspicuous manner under the circumstances.
    (c) A notice against trespass is given if the notice (1) is printed legibly in English; (2) is at least 144 square inches in size; (3) contains the name and address of the person under whose authority the property is posted and the name and address of the person who is authorized to grant permission to enter the property; (4) is placed at each roadway and at each way of access onto the property that is known to the landowner; (5) in the case of an island, is placed along the perimeter at each cardinal point of the island; and (6) states any specific prohibition that the posting is directed against, such as "no trespassing," "no hunting," "no fishing," "no digging," or similar prohibitions.

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    You're going to have to help clear some things up here for me. Subsection (b) would appear to allow hunting on private land if the land owner chooses not to post it as private/no tresspassing or chooses not to fence it. It seems to me that subsection (c) simply sets a standard of posting on the ladowner.

    What is the current system and how is it better than this proposed system?

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    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    The section quoted above is the current law. You are correct that subsection b allows use of the land unless it is posted. The new bills would remove section c which defines what a legal sign is. That would leave it open to interpretation as to what a legal posting should be. Originally they wanted to remove section b as well, but that did not fly.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Personally I am in total support of the new version of the trespass law. The hunting regs state that it is your responsibility to know whose land you are on, but despite that up until now the onus has been on the landowner to post the land in an unreasonable manner. I mean really, if you own 640 acres is it realistic to have to have "x" number of signs per mile all the way around it?
    There are more than enough resources easily available to determine the ownership of any piece of land, and it has been absolutely ridiculous how impossible the old statute made enforcing trespass laws.
    YOU are responsible for knowing where you are. The "old days" where you can receive permission for politely asking are not gone, they have just been so disregarded that it never occurs to most folks to look up the landowner and ask. Instead they have fallen back on the regs, and then lamely pointed out that the land was not "legally" posted.
    I have no sympathy.

    i mean what's with the frown face? You upset you can no longer trespass with impunity? So sad for you....
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    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    "i mean what's with the frown face? You upset you can no longer trespass with impunity? So sad for you...." You make ASSumptions as usual homerdave. I don't mind that you would like the change, but to imply that I trespass is a personal attack and without merit. I will consider the source and give it the appropriate consideration. I have disagreed with most of your posts here, so perhaps I should be happy to have you in opposition. The fact that you can not have a discussion without a baseless personal attack? So sad for you...

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I liked the premise of the original law and find it frustrating how many people would destroy legitimate signage. The problem with not requiring contact information on the signage is that it opens the door for people to anonymously post public land as no trespassing and makes that violation nearly impossible to prosecute.

    Both violations are frustratingly common.

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    Well, I can see that both sides have merit, but there needs to be some "standard" to which signage should meet.

    This is not unlike the old "open range" vs "closed" or "fenced" or (going WAY back to the middle ages) "enclosure" system.

    If AK is an open range, then it is the landowner's responsibility to protect "his" land. I believe many states in the west are still using that system.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I'm with HomerDave on this one.
    Yes putting signs up is relatively cheap and easy. Keeping them up is a challenge at times. I have personally put up signs that tresspassers tore down.
    By the old rules they can tear down your signs and throw them away then tresspass all they want to until you discover the missing signs and replace them. Only to have them ripped down once again.
    I once witnessed where my Uncle had signs up along the road bordering his property and they cut down every tree with a sign on it and cut it up for firewood. They left plenty of nice birch on his property line just cut down the ones with signs and hauled them off.
    If you don't know where you are in the woods maybe you shouldn't be in the woods?
    Yes occasionally accidents happen but hauling out moose heads and traps/snares onto private property was no accident.
    I would guess 90+% of those opposing this have never owned property or at least not more than an acre or two.
    When you have tresspassers shoot game on your property then leave trash behind and tear up the place it changes your opinion of letting others use your property.
    When they tresspass after being told no and shoot through the neighbors house while doing so makes you wonder what kind of people are in this crazy world.
    If you can't tell where you are and need a sign to tell you you have wondered onto private property maybe you should stay on the couch playing video games.
    Sorry for the rant but thats just my 2 cents.
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I'm with HomerDave on this one....If you can't tell where you are and need a sign to tell you you have wondered onto private property maybe you should stay on the couch playing video games.
    ........+1
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I'm with HomerDave on this one.
    Yes putting signs up is relatively cheap and easy. Keeping them up is a challenge at times. I have personally put up signs that tresspassers tore down.
    By the old rules they can tear down your signs and throw them away then tresspass all they want to until you discover the missing signs and replace them. Only to have them ripped down once again.
    I once witnessed where my Uncle had signs up along the road bordering his property and they cut down every tree with a sign on it and cut it up for firewood. They left plenty of nice birch on his property line just cut down the ones with signs and hauled them off.
    If you don't know where you are in the woods maybe you shouldn't be in the woods?
    Yes occasionally accidents happen but hauling out moose heads and traps/snares onto private property was no accident.
    I would guess 90+% of those opposing this have never owned property or at least not more than an acre or two.
    When you have tresspassers shoot game on your property then leave trash behind and tear up the place it changes your opinion of letting others use your property.
    When they tresspass after being told no and shoot through the neighbors house while doing so makes you wonder what kind of people are in this crazy world.
    If you can't tell where you are and need a sign to tell you you have wondered onto private property maybe you should stay on the couch playing video games.
    Sorry for the rant but thats just my 2 cents.
    Except this change does nothing to fix your complaints and only muddies the water regarding what constitutes "reasonably conspicuous". Meanwhile it is increasing the effectiveness of posting public land as private because allows for anonymous signage to pass as valid.

    Your examples of people trespassing after being told to vacate or destroying legitimate signage were both illegal under the previous verbiage.

    What did you win here?

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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    Personally I am in total support of the new version of the trespass law. The hunting regs state that it is your responsibility to know whose land you are on, but despite that up until now the onus has been on the landowner to post the land in an unreasonable manner. I mean really, if you own 640 acres is it realistic to have to have "x" number of signs per mile all the way around it?
    There are more than enough resources easily available to determine the ownership of any piece of land, and it has been absolutely ridiculous how impossible the old statute made enforcing trespass laws.
    YOU are responsible for knowing where you are. The "old days" where you can receive permission for politely asking are not gone, they have just been so disregarded that it never occurs to most folks to look up the landowner and ask. Instead they have fallen back on the regs, and then lamely pointed out that the land was not "legally" posted.
    I have no sympathy.

    i mean what's with the frown face? You upset you can no longer trespass with impunity? So sad for you....
    I have to agree with homer. There is no other land use activity where you are allowed to utilize someone else's land just because they didn't post proper signage. Imagine if timber/firewood harvesting had that legal setup.


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    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    private is private. Stay off my land

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    Except this change does nothing to fix your complaints and only muddies the water regarding what constitutes "reasonably conspicuous". Meanwhile it is increasing the effectiveness of posting public land as private because allows for anonymous signage to pass as valid.

    Your examples of people trespassing after being told to vacate or destroying legitimate signage were both illegal under the previous verbiage.

    What did you win here?
    If someone is on my property illegally aka... "TRESSPASSING" then they can be charged with tresspassing regardless of the fact that I may or may not have had signs or if the tresspasser rips them down or they became weathered and unreadable etc. etc.
    So if a state trooper sets up a bait station of moose heads on my land and surrounds it with traps and/or snares they can be charged with tresspass regardless of whether or not I have signs of X size with a signature etc. placed at every single mouse trail into my property.
    If the bill passes it will now be easier to prosecute tresspassers on my property by eliminating a often used loophole in regards to signage thats how I win.
    If I take you to court for tresspass you can no longer say there was a sign missing somewhere or that it wasn't quite large enough or whatever and walk away because of it. You will now be held accountable if a landowner decides to press tresspass charges regardless of whether or not you knew you were tresspassing or saw a sign etc.
    Nothing in the previous law stoped me from posting public property as private either. Just that in the past they had to have signs of a certain size marked a certain way. Easy enough to do if a person really wanted to. And being they would still be illegal signs then it matters not what they looked like or where they put them.As they were unenforceable.
    Where are you recreating that you have found people putting up private property signs on public land? Is it a rampant problem in the valley or elsewhere? I have not seen or heard of this being a problem around the Kenai Peninsula.

    We have had a few issues with mining claims. People let the claims go but kept their signs up as if the claim were still active.
    I believe that was the Hope Mining Company who was doing that to save some $$$ on his annual claim fees. When confronted the new miners checking the claims out for possible staking just told him they knew he had let the claims go and he backed off and let them proceed.
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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    you should have to know where your at at all times. its not the landowners job to have to educate everyone during hunting and fishing season on how to read a map. with that said signs dont seem to work anyways and neither do fences. we watch people walk right up to no tresspassing signs at my wifes familys fish camp. they look around and just keep on walking... i guess warning shots are next if ammo want so **** expensive. if most of these people just stopped, said hi and asked theyd be pleasantly surprised as i dont think my father in law has ever told anybody no. im not talking about using the highwater mark either which is perfectly legal im talking cutting through acre/acres of property to get to the water.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    It won't make it any easier to prosecute because it doesn't define what qualifies as "conspicuous". There is no net change that will help landowners in any way that I can see.

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    Ah, hell, the party's over.....maybe to ease my frustration I'll go cut a few trails down section line easements on native land....no law against it....
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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It won't make it any easier to prosecute because it doesn't define what qualifies as "conspicuous". There is no net change that will help landowners in any way that I can see.
    But it does make any "No Tresspass" Sign valid.
    Whereby in the past if my sign was only 120 square inches or if my name and address were not on it then it was not legally binding.
    Now I only need a sign that says "No Tresspassing".
    I do wish the law would define "Conspicious". I also believe the law should not require sinage other than your main entrance and your four corners.
    I also was wondering where you have seen people post public property as private? I have not seen that myself and am curious where it was and what you did?
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    For those opposed to the law change here is a question for you:
    If I am hunting on the edge of a GMU and the laws differ significantly depending on which side I am on, who is responsible if I get caught with a dead animal on the wrong side of the line in a closed GMU?
    Who is responsible to determine if I am in the correct GMU while I am hunting?
    Do you really think a judge should excuse you if you shot a moose 50 yards on the wrong side of the imaginery line?
    What happened to Jeff King? Thats right he was busted and had to pay the piper for being on the wrong side of the line.
    So why should it be any different when it comes to private property?
    Why should I have to maintain sinage that meets certain criteria so it is easier for you to determine where you are at any given time?
    It is your responsibility to determine that you are in a GMU open for hunting the species you are after but, you want private landowners to pony up and place signs that have very specific criteria at every conceiveable entrance to their property?
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    I don’t see how there will be an overall improvement for people on either side of the issue. It will only make the posting requirements more vague and open to interpretation. Do you think anyone will be prosecuted if they trespass on property that has posted 2 square inch signs written in Chinese?
    In the first place, signs only keep honest people honest. Someone who is bent on trespassing will do so regardless of signs, fences or anything else as noted above. Not having legal requirements clearly stated in law might even give the trespasser an out by saying that the property was not posted in “a reasonably conspicuous manner under the circumstances.” Most people, myself included, will not trespass if they see a sign posted, regardless if it meets the legal requirement. I am reasonably certain of where I am when I am hunting, but being human I am sure I have make mistakes. I would venture a guess that anyone who has spent a lot of time hiking in the woods has unknowingly crossed private property.

    The trespassers who tear down signs are also guilty of destruction of private property. Having some hidden trail cams will do much more to catch them than the proposed changes to the current law. If you can’t afford a trail cam, just adding “You Are On Camera” to the “No Trespassing” sign will at least make them more paranoid.
    Comparing a GMU that is hundreds of square miles in river drainages to a five acre parcel is like comparing apples to peanuts. The fact is that most Western states require private property to be posted. At least Alaska's requirements are far easier to meet than most other Western states.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I also was wondering where you have seen people post public property as private? I have not seen that myself and am curious where it was and what you did?
    Oil Well Road. Mile 10.3 on the left hand side of the road going toward Amber Lake. There is a public access along a property line easement that accesses Brother-Sister Lake. The guy who owns the property adjacent to the easement put up chains across the public access and posted it private property/no trespassing. The only ways to force the issue is to get arrested for trespassing, hire legal counsel, assemble all of the public documents, and prove in court that the guy has illegally posted the lake access as private property. The other option is to sue him in civil court and convince a judge to issue a cease and desist. Both options require considerable cost. Meanwhile, yo go up to your cabin and find it burned to the ground.

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