Know & Identify Your Property Boundaries.
Simple enough, right? But you might be surprised at the number of landowners I encounter that have never been to their property and don’t even know exactly where it is. Normally, these folks inherited it and they’ve either not been interested enough to do research and locate it or they don’t know where to start. Many live far away, which further complicates the situation. I get several calls each year from landowners who either have never seen their property or haven’t been to it in many years. If they can offer some basic information, like a legal description from their tax assessment, I can pinpoint their property, make an onsite inspection, and report back to them. If they don’t have a legal description, I can look it up at the local courthouse as long as I have the ownership name recorded on the deed.
Many landowners know where their property is, but aren’t familiar with its boundaries. It’s critical to not only know the boundaries, but to have them marked and easily identifiable. This is crucial for doing work on your property and showing the neighbors where theirs stops and yours begins. Having boundaries that are clearly marked can go a long way in heading off a host of problems like accidental timber cutting and accidental trespass. I say “accidental” because someone who is intent on stealing your timber or poaching the animals that live there may do it even if the boundaries are evident. However, marking them not only displays ownership but it represents to others that you are active on the property. This gives the impression that you or a representative could show up at any minute, which often gives pause to the ill-intentioned.
While simply locating and marking corners might suffice on residential properties, doing so is inadequate for forest property, where corners can be thousands of feet apart. As a forest landowner, establishing and maintaining well-marked boundaries can save you money, and litigation. The likelihood of the following issues can be greatly lessened by well-marked and posted property lines.
Unwanted trespass and poaching can be minimized by marking and posting property lines. Louisiana land owners are no longer required to post their property in order to prosecute someone for trespass, however, posted signs send a message to “stay out” and also increase the visibility of the boundary.
Unmarked property boundaries can lead to a loss of land by the original owner.
Timber Theft or Accidental Trespass
Unmarked property can be susceptible to timber theft (timber trespass). Most of the time this is accidental but, occasionally, outright theft does occur. The best protection against this is a well-marked, maintained boundary line that is frequently checked for encroachment.
The following events require or are greatly aided by well-marked property boundaries.
Selling timber entails a precise location of the sale’s boundaries to conduct a legal and legitimate business transaction.
Timber harvesting, site preparation, and prescribed burning operations must be conducted within the confines of one’s property. Clearly defined property lines will help avoid conflicts and potential encroachment on adjoining lands.
Prospective buyers want to see exactly where a property begins and ends. They want to know that there are no encroachment or adverse possession issues they’ll have to deal with after the purchase.
Preserving Expensive Surveys
Often, landowners will pay a lot of money to have a property surveyed but won’t go to the trouble of marking the corners and boundaries. Over time, saplings and brush obscure most evidence of the survey. The small iron rods that the surveyor places at corner locations become very hard to find and any marks they put on trees along the boundaries become dim and hard to see.
I tell landowners this, “if you don’t use your land, someone else will”. It’s pretty easy to identify property that is neglected and rarely visited. These are the parcels that thieves, trespassers, and even trash dumpers prey on. Don’t let yours be that property! Know the location of your boundaries and keep them plainly marked.