This past summer, the 142-acre Siuslaw Model Forest (SMF) had trespassing issues that included ATV traffic, vandalism to trail signage, and hunting within the property limits without permission. The response from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center, managers of the SMF, was tactful and transparent. Their actions can be used as a teaching tool for other woodlot owners concerned about privacy and reducing the risk of trespassing on their own properties.
CCE’s first step involved a letter to adjoining property owners that summarized the trespassing problems and outlined CCE’s plans to address them. Their letter described SMF’s role in teaching the public about sustainable forest stewardship. It warmly welcomed visitors and explained the correct way to do so: 1) Sign in at the Agroforestry Resource Center reception desk, 2) Grab a trail guide and map, and 3) Enter the property from the Route 23 entrance.
Tracey Testo (Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Program Coordinator) and Eric Rasmussen determined that multiple ATV access points existed along the eastern property boundary. Eric, who managed SMF for 50 years before donating it to CCE Columbia Greene in 2006, made sure that the property boundaries were clearly marked with blue blazes (paint splotches). In late January 2019, I joined Tracey and Kelsey West (ENR Program Assistant) to post No Trespassing signs along the eastern boundary.
The No Trespassing signs identify the landowner (CCE Columbia Greene) and the main entrance to the property. Voss Signs sells them for about a buck apiece if you buy 100+ signs.
The weather for the day was 10 degrees Fahrenheit, but it was a stunner! Bright sunshine and no wind. We had a fresh 7 inches of snow, so we put on snowshoes, grabbed our gear, and went to work. It turned out to be a really fun group activity. With all the snow on the ground, we saw many wildlife tracks. We found lots of deer sign and even a foxhole that Eric says has been used for many years!
One of many deer beds that we found in the fresh snow.
When choosing distances between the posted signs, we focused on line of sight. Our spacing ranged from 70 to 100 ft. The other property boundaries wouldn’t need to be posted as heavily. Property corners got more signage. Our team of three worked quickly by leapfrogging each other. We posted most of the eastern boundary (about 4500 ft) and were back at the Agroforestry Resource Center in half a day.
To be fair, we had the easy job because Eric had already marked the property boundaries so well. Eric used to work as a forester in Oregon, which is where the name Siuslaw comes from, before his 50-year tenure as forest manager of what is now SMF. That said, it’s no wonder he has such an intimate knowledge of the property and its boundaries. Obviously, this is an important requirement prior to posting boundaries. If you are unsure about your property boundaries or your skills in surveying and marking them, it’s probably a good idea to hire a land surveyor to do it for you.
Hopefully CCE’s communication and boundary posting efforts resolve the trespassing issues. Check out MyWoodlot.com for activities related to Privacy and Reducing Your Risk of Trespassing. To learn more about Siuslaw Model Forest, visit: http://ccecolumbiagreene.org/natural-resources/agroforestry-resource-center/siuslaw-model-forest.