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  1. #1
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    Default MT Trespass Laws Seriously Altered Today

    Sorry yesterday... Committee Executive Action on amendment

    REMOVING THE REQUIREMENT TO POST NOTICE DENYING ENTRY ONTO PRIVATE LAND

    HB 231

    PDF text

    They struck orange paint, no trespassing signs, etc.
    Last edited by katqanna; 01-26-2017 at 10:42 PM.

  2. Default

    Does this bill significantly change anything relating to us as hunters? It is already unlawful to trespass without permission regardless of whether it is posted or not. Does this make it easier for landowners to prosecute trespass without having to prove their property was legally posted?

  3. #3
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    Gerald, I would assume yes, because they are removing the posting requirement.

    It looks like the version on the 12th did not have all that, Webb opens the testimony about homeless people in town, she is from Billings, she introduced herself as a landlord of residential property.

    Then someone went in and gutted this to cross out all the signage and paint of property/lands, roads, etc.

    This is all struck ------"To provide for effective posting of private land through which the public has no right-of-way, the notice provided for in subsection (1) must satisfy the following requirements: (a) notice must be placed on a post, structure, or natural object by marking it with written notice or with not less than 50 square inches of fluorescent orange paint, except that when metal fenceposts are used, the entire post must be painted; and (b) the notice described in subsection (2)(a) must be placed at each outer gate and normal point of access to the property, including both sides of a water body crossing the property wherever the water body intersects an outer boundary line. (3) To provide for effective posting of private land through which or along which the public has an unfenced right-of-way by means of a public road, a landowner shall: (a) place a conspicuous sign no closer than 30 feet of the centerline of the roadway where it enters the private land, stating words substantially similar to "PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING OFF ROAD NEXT___ MILES"; or (b) place notice, as described in subsection (2)(a), no closer than 30 feet of the centerline of the roadway at regular intervals of not less than one-fourth mile along the roadway where it borders unfenced private land, except that orange markings may not be placed on posts
    where the public roadway enters the private land.(4) If property has been posted in substantial compliance with subsection (2) or (3), it is considered closed to public access unless explicit permission to enter is given by the landowner or the landowner's authorized agent."

    The act is effective on passage.
    Last edited by katqanna; 01-26-2017 at 11:25 PM.

  4. #4
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    Did I miss something? Does this affect the manner in which a law abiding person can use or access public land?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdunc8 View Post
    Did I miss something? Does this affect the manner in which a law abiding person can use or access public land?
    Appears this is similar to how I understand the trespass law in Wyoming. The responsibility is on the person to not trespass. Sometimes a property line is easy to determine whether it be by signage or prominent terrain. Perhaps your paper map or your GPS mag is ever so slightly out of date and a small chunk of land in no longer public. Is rare but public land open to access can change so no longer offers access or is no longer open to hunting. Perhaps surplus public land is sold off or a land swap takes place.

    I think an honest person making an innocent mistake while trespassing is a rarity though is a nice safety net when property lines have markings or signs.

  6. #6
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    Uh yeah, I think you guys might be worried about this.
    Last edited by RobG; 01-27-2017 at 01:40 AM.

  7. #7
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    What does this change ? I understood that you need to know if you are on public or private land in Montana (e.g. the responsibility of the hunter to know where he is hunting) and iyou need written permission to be on private.

  8. #8
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    I guess the way I've always understood it, it is legal to trespass on land that is not posted. You can't hunt it, but you can trespass. The compromise with was to have the orange on the post, so someone didn't have to go buying a ton of signs to post their property. If I'm understanding this correctly, this would make it illegal to trespass on land that is not posted. If that's the case, I really don't have an issue with it. Sure, there can be innocent mistakes made, but in some regard we can't feel entitled to other people's land. I know it could be used to access fishing areas without having to walk down the streambed, but I think most of us would get land owner permission before doing so anyways. I realize that this is something that will be used to prosecute people by some of these rich landowners, but by and large, I think unless a land-owner is having a continual problem with trespassers, it's not going to be a big issue. We should, as fellow Montanans, put a little more onus on us to know where we are.

    I would say, if there is an area that this leads to confusion, the landowner should probably take it upon themselves to paint posts orange. Everyone knows what that means, whether or not its a requirement. I'm sure they would rather take that step than call the sheriff anytime someone trespasses.
    Last edited by 2ski; 01-27-2017 at 08:13 AM.

  9. #9
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    IDK, Every state has some law that require you the person crossing to know where you are at. This is just kinda basic stuff. John
    “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  10. #10
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    It was previously legal to trespass (so walk on, but not hunt) on private land that was unmarked unless the landowner explicitly asked you not to.

    The Montana Access Guide to State and Federal Lands actually has a section about accessing private land as well - it's the third link on this page:

    http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/hunterAccess/toolkit.html

    The page sequencing is screwed up because it's meant to be a half page, folded brochure but you can get the gist if you follow the page numbers. Pages 15-16 describe what had been allowed up to now.

    One potential implication I see for hunters would be it might be easier for those folks who like to harass hunters accessing publicly accessible public land into thinking they are trespassing on private.

  11. #11
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    Decided I couldn't bite my tongue any longer. This could be a very big deal.

    For how it affects us, you do not currently need permission to remain above the high water mark or cross land that isn't posted unless you are hunting. (It used to be you could also bird hunt if it wasn't posted). This would totally change the game for recreational hiking, fishing, climbing, and other recreational uses.

    This would also make it extremely difficult to hike through private sections of land in the Crazies or other places without risking a ticket. Most of those trails don't have recorded easements.

    I also see this as a way to reverse prescriptive easements that aren't reported. Right now if the trail isn't posted you are granted access without permission, whether or not the landowner has the right to require that permission. What this would do is essentially require you to get permission to use any trail that crosses private land where there isn't a recorded easement or face getting a ticket. This is much more than merely a pain in the butt, requiring permission to enter a place is a way to undo a prescriptive easement. If you require permission long enough the public no longer has a right to use the trail without your permission.

  12. #12

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    Thanks Kat for the heads up, but this seems much to do about nothing. Landowners that don't want folks are their land are not shy about buying orange paint. In this day in age with the tools available to hunters there is no reason for a hunter not to know where he is. Might be kind of nice not to see every other tree and fence post sprayed orange.
    Last edited by tjones; 01-27-2017 at 09:33 AM.

  13. #13

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    Let me guess, Chuck Denowh showed up and opposed this one, because it was too loose for the landowners, who should be allowed to shoot on sight.

  14. #14
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    I too don't see this being much of an issue. I don't feel like I should be able to wander through someone's property to pick mushrooms, fish, or recreate in any other manner without their permission, so that's a nonissue for me. I'm guessing, I may be wrong though, that property is going to be posted in most instances where the landowner is fighting an easement (e.g,. Rob's situation in the Crazies, Indian Creek, etc.), which is going to result in a ticket either way.

    I read folks on here complaining about landowners/ranchers/politicians/etc./etc./etc. coming after hunters and we need to find some common ground. It seems like this is one instance where we could do what is being asked of others. Maybe there are ways to improve the bill to help folks making honest mistakes, but overall, I don't feel the need to fight this one.

  15. #15
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    This is an excerpt from what Hunting Wife liked to.

    "Privilege to enter or remain upon private land is extended
    either by the explicit permission of the landowner
    or other authorized person, or by failure of the
    landowner or other authorized person to post notice
    denying entry onto the land (Montana Code Annotated
    46-6-201). However, as a matter of courtesy it is
    always good policy to ask first before entering any
    private lands."

    So if this was the case, Corner crossing would have been perfectly legal if the corners were not explicitly posted.

  16. #16
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    I'm a bit stunned here.

    You guys do realize that OnXmaps is about 150' off on most of the places I checked this hunting season... All of the sections were shifted 150' north from actual location, so there is big reason why we might not know where we are. And most non-hunters aren't going to be walking around with their iPhone app open.

    Also, a friend got detained by Turner's manager for allegedly trespassing on some property above the beartrap while hunting. It wasn't posted, or fenced in that particular section. He was let go only because there were several hunters up there and it wasn't clear who was over the invisible line.
    Last edited by RobG; 01-27-2017 at 09:44 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frenchy View Post

    So if this was the case, Corner crossing would have been perfectly legal if the corners were not explicitly posted.
    Civil trespass. The code being modified is for criminal trespass. Corner crossing wouldn't satisfy the "remain" portion of the criminal trespass I'm guessing.

  18. #18
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    Finally - and I'm talking way too much - going from civil to criminal trespassing is a big <bleep'n> deal. You can lose your hunting license for 2 years and the folks in these rural counties are sometimes all in it together to keep their lands locked up.

  19. #19
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    So as I understand it...the access to Rock Creek in the Crazies could essentially be blocked by the Marlboro Ranch,or is that trail protected? Remember,the trail literally cuts through the main ranch.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    I'm a bit stunned here.

    You guys do realize that OnXmaps is about 150' off on most of the places I checked this hunting season... All of the sections were shifted 150' north from actual location, so there is big reason why we might not know where we are. And most non-hunters aren't going to be walking around with their iPhone app open.

    Also, a friend got detained by Turner's manager for allegedly trespassing on some property above the beartrap while hunting. It wasn't posted, or fenced in that particular section. He was let go only because there were several hunters up there and it wasn't clear who was over the invisible line.

    I simply stay more then 30 yards from the property line shown on ONX.

    I only have time for so many battles,,,,,

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobG View Post
    I'm a bit stunned here.

    You guys do realize that OnXmaps is about 150' off on most of the places I checked this hunting season... All of the sections were shifted 150' north from actual location, so there is big reason why we might not know where we are. And most non-hunters aren't going to be walking around with their iPhone app open.

    Also, a friend got detained by Turner's manager for allegedly trespassing on some property above the beartrap while hunting. It wasn't posted, or fenced in that particular section. He was let go only because there were several hunters up there and it wasn't clear who was over the invisible line.
    Why was it off 150'?....that's not been my experience when referencing surveyed corners. Just so you know, fencelines don't mean jack shit...I've seen fences 500+ feet into public with not trespassing signs on them. Many times fences are put in places of convenience...not on the surveyed property line.

    I would trust the onX data way before a fence line.

    I agree with you that in the case of p. easements this may be problematic.
    "...the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered, was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana." -Norman Maclean

    "They were still so young they hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy"
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzH View Post
    Why was it off 150'?....that's not been my experience when referencing surveyed corners. Just so you know, fencelines don't mean jack shit...I've seen fences 500+ feet into public with not trespassing signs on them. Many times fences are put in places of convenience...not on the surveyed property line.

    I would trust the onX data way before a fence line.

    I agree with you that in the case of p. easements this may be problematic.
    Trust me for the moment. be back in a minutue.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzH View Post
    Just so you know, fencelines don't mean jack shit...I've seen fences 500+ feet into public with not trespassing signs on them. Many times fences are put in places of convenience...not on the surveyed property line.
    This cost me a really nice buck in eastern Montana. I was hunting a new spot and was working my way towards the back of the section. Saw a nice buck just over the fence. Watched him walk away into private. Come to find out, the fence was 150 yards on to public...Turner often fences way inside his line (e.g., Beartrap) because they want to stay out of the timber and on flatish land.

  24. #24

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    I checked mine standing on the corner pin of my property and it was off a short bow shot maybe 20 yards. Anytime I am near a property line that close I just stay away from the exact line ONX shows. I pay no attention to fences. If a landowner was to hassle me he best have a survey crew in his back pocket.

  25. Default

    I certainly don't see how this bill is going to help us as hunters and has potential to cause even more public/private conflicts. Seems to me that any landowner willing to enforce trespassing and owns land intersected by public access shouldn't have a problem painting "posted" markings.

    If this bill does indeed take away previous freedoms to access and hike certain trails, we lose.

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