In the maiden issue of Tree Talk way back in 1997, a feature article discussed Idaho trespass laws and the steps landowners can take to minimize trespassing on their property. Since this continues to be a hot topic and, in 2014, Idaho Senate Bill 1241 modified trespassing statutes, we felt it would be appropriate to revisit this topic.
Please note that the posting information is specific only to the State of Idaho.
The requirements to legally discourage trespassing in the state of Idaho are somewhat confusing. Three different statutes discuss “No Trespassing” posting requirements.
Although the spacing of “No Trespass” warning notices in all statues is consistent at 660 feet, the type of notice varies.
While two Idaho statutes only mention the use of “No Trespassing” signs as a sufficient warning, a third statute is more specific and identifies legal requirements for posting property to include one of the following:
• Posting “No Trespassing” signs.
• Posted with at least 100 square inches of a high visibility shade of orange paint. In the case of metal fence posts, the top 18 inches must be painted.
• Posted with “…other notices of like meaning” with at least “one sign, paint area, or notice every 660 feet. (That’s every 10 chains if you read the Spring 2015 edition of Tree Talk.)
• Cultivated or irrigated agricultural land is automatically posted and does not require any of the above measures.
What Idaho Senate Bill 1241 did was add a convenience option for landowners with large acreages that front along public access roads so fewer signs and/or less paint would be required. Rather than quote the statute verbatim, it can be paraphrased as follows:
Posting a conspicuous sign where a public road enters the property with wording similar to “Private Property, No Trespassing off (relevant compass direction, i.e. North) Side of Road Next (fill in distance) Miles.” And where a public road exits the property, a similar sign which reads “Leaving Private Property” must be posted.
So, rather than a seemingly continuous wall of signs or orange paint, one sign placed where a public road enters the property that defines the side of the road and the length of property and another sign at the exit point of the property now fulfills the requirement for a legal posting.
By eliminating the need for a property owner to hang signs or paint blazes every 660 feet, it is believed that this will be aesthetically more pleasing for the public.
Because multiple sections of Idaho Code address these issues, we encourage you to consult the State of Idaho website to read the specific state statutes relating to trespass. These include Title 36-1603, 1604 Fish and Game Recreational Trespass and Title 18-7008, 7011 Trespass and Malicious Injuries to Property.
Problems with trespass are handled by the local sheriff and/or conservation officer if hunting or fishing are involved. If you detect someone trespassing on your land, it is best to first warn them verbally. If this fails, record pertinent information about the violator (and vehicle, if applicable) and inform the local sheriff. Above all, do not allow this initial contact to escalate into a confrontational situation.
Property ownership comes with many responsibilities; one of which is keeping unwanted trespassers off of the land. But it also allows many privileges. Certainly spending time enjoying the beauty of your forest during these nice fall days ranks among the best of them.
—Mike Wolcott and Bill Love