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Old 05-19-2011, 03:13 PM   #1
silkiechicken
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Default How to tell if land is private/public?

Short of looking up on a map if something is public/private and obeying signs/fences... let's say if you are out just driving around the mountains and want to hop out and wander around... how do you know if you are trespassing?

On google maps I see areas of the map labeled as "national forest", yet see property lines and houses within it... if I am out there, how do I know if I wander off the national forest into someone's property?

Thanks!

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Old 05-20-2011, 05:46 AM   #2
salmonfisher77
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

http://www.oregonhuntingmap.com/

This is what I use for general areas!
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Get USFS and BLM maps of the areas you are interested in, they are fairly accurate with land ownership.
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:06 AM   #4
TheRogue
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

here's some for BLM in OR/WA: Sportsmans Series PDF

paper copies: Paper BLM maps
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

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Originally Posted by TheRogue View Post
here's some for BLM in OR/WA: Sportsmans Series PDF

paper copies: Paper BLM maps
Thanks Kyle! Soooo, I was legal on my antelope kill!!

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Old 05-20-2011, 06:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Quote:
Originally Posted by silkiechicken View Post
Short of looking up on a map if something is public/private and obeying signs/fences... let's say if you are out just driving around the mountains and want to hop out and wander around... how do you know if you are trespassing?

On google maps I see areas of the map labeled as "national forest", yet see property lines and houses within it... if I am out there, how do I know if I wander off the national forest into someone's property?

Thanks!
There is no "magic bullet" method for determining ownership. You have to put some effort into learning where you are at. That entails getting some maps, and learning the area.

If you want real detail, go to your county assessor's office. They have maps (public record) showing all property ownership through tax lot information.

There is no substitute for paying attention to clues that you see when you actually on the property. Look for signs, fences, ditches, signs of human activity, differentials in land use (farmed vs unfarmed ..... clearcuts vs timbered) etc. Some find a GPS unit very beneficial.
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Old 05-20-2011, 08:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

And if (when) confronted by someone claiming to be the land owner it is best to back off and let someone with authority deal with the situation even if you are certain that the property is public.

Some people get real possessive over land even though they may only have grazing or trespass rights. Try to get the identity of the person claiming ownership, license plates, etc. and comply with their request. These situations can turn to gun pointing matches real easy...
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

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Originally Posted by crabbait View Post
And if (when) confronted by someone claiming to be the land owner it is best to back off and let someone with authority deal with the situation even if you are certain that the property is public.

Some people get real possessive over land even though they may only have grazing or trespass rights. Try to get the identity of the person claiming ownership, license plates, etc. and comply with their request. These situations can turn to gun pointing matches real easy...

Good info right there.Been there done that.
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

alyways remember that "as the land USER it is YOUR responsability to know where you are at. its not the land owners responsability to post it, fence it or mark it in any way shape or form."
found that out the hard way!
that is a quote from the judge himself.
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Old 05-21-2011, 06:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Quote:
Originally Posted by crabbait View Post
And if (when) confronted by someone claiming to be the land owner it is best to back off and let someone with authority deal with the situation even if you are certain that the property is public.

Some people get real possessive over land even though they may only have grazing or trespass rights. Try to get the identity of the person claiming ownership, license plates, etc. and comply with their request. These situations can turn to gun pointing matches real easy...
Very good info, especially if you are in Wyoming....the rancher is king, and the law don't mess with the king, from what I have been told.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:07 AM   #11
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Bone View Post
alyways remember that "as the land USER it is YOUR responsability to know where you are at. its not the land owners responsability to post it, fence it or mark it in any way shape or form."
found that out the hard way!
that is a quote from the judge himself.
Then you had a judge that has forgotten how to read. Or you where not in oregon.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:57 AM   #12
silkiechicken
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Thanks! I'll probably just try and stay within obvious boundaries of the parks when visiting the forest if I can't say for sure from a map prior to going out there. I only have a cheap little road GPS and putting in non road locations can be a challenge.
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Old 05-22-2011, 01:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

You can try this. I think my brother uses it and it works pretty well in Washington.

Last edited by Pete; 05-22-2011 at 05:33 PM. Reason: non-sponsor link removed.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

The Rams unit maps are pretty good and most sporting goods stores have them. Not very expensive and pretty durable. The blm maps can give your more detail because of the scale but other than I don't find much difference between the two.

By the time any map is published and distributed it could be out of date because it won't include any land swaps or sales that come since. It's not that often that you don't see some change in the ground or a marked boundary that you can't correlate to a blm or Rams map. It's harder in the woods than the sage or juniper country just because of the more limited sight lines. The forest service around here does a good job of marking the section lines or other boundaries in the forests, not sure if they all do.
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:42 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to tell if land is private/public?

Quote:
Originally Posted by baltz526 View Post
Then you had a judge that has forgotten how to read. Or you where not in oregon.
Please expand on that. It's my understanding that I have that responsibility.

When I first started hunting in Eastern Oregon I was a bit confused about what was public and what was private. Basic rule of thumb in Washington is if you cross a fence from known public land you are most likely on private land. I took the time and spent a small fortune buying maps that show detailed info on what, if any, agency controls the property. Funny how my hunting opportunities have grown. Oregon has small plots of public land right in the middle of private land. Since I hunt coyotes I can call them off of private land and legally shoot them.

When I lived in North Central Washington I saw where some people took the trouble to post public land mostly to keep hunters and fishers out. One particular place near the border with Canada has a big sign at the beginning of the road that states that all of the property on both sides of the road all the way to the border is private yet there are two public hunting and fishing areas on the road. In doing a little research I found that the claim was false. One guy sold access to the state then tore down their signs and posted it. Since I was an engineer placing facilities on public and private land I knew how to do the research to determine ownership. I filed a complaint and made sure the state followed up and he was fined for several different offenses.

Of course, when confronted by a gun it's best to back off but if you know you're on public ground file a complaint and but the sheriff to do his job. Buying a piece of property doesn't give the owner the right to claim all of the property around him as well but you need to respect private property rights.
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