Legal Issues for  Landowners  Paul Kloppenburg, Wisconsin DNR       John Exo, UW-Extension
Learning Objectives• Know how to identify your  property boundaries;• Understand the common laws  that affect woodland own...
Identifying Property BoundariesWhy identify boundaries? – Timber harvests – Reduce trespass – Avoid adverse possession (ex...
History continued• Township exteriors surveyed first• Interior sections surveyed later• County surveyors   – Established i...
Original survey notes
Legal Descriptions                       township           6      5     4    3    2    1           7      8     9    10  ...
Identifying Property BoundariesHow to read a legal description:The tax bill lists S1/2, NESE, 24, 33N 9E, 20.00.The legal ...
SE1/4NW1/4 , Sec 21, T2N, R3W
Evolution of Plat Maps• Original plat  map of a town• Note no  roads, but  water features• Used for  original land  claims
Evolution of Plat Maps• Moderate  division• Still large  parcels
Evolution of Plat Maps• Modern plat map• Unique section lines…• Extensive land division
Identifying Property Boundaries   Historic section or ¼ section corner                 markers:
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
Find the corner post
When Should a Property be Surveyed?• Property is divided for sale• Sale, purchase or mortgage• Property improvements  plan...
When Should a Property be Surveyed?• When regulations or programs  require a survey and map• When location of boundaries o...
What will a survey do or show?Surveys can:  – Locate ownership boundaries  – Establish property corners  – Locate parcel i...
How is a Survey Obtained?• Must be performed by a Registered Land  Surveyor• Phonebook, by reputation, or Wisconsin  Socie...
Survey CostDepends on:• Previous surveys-of-record• Condition of record• Land terrain• Weather• Complexity of survey (e.g....
Notes on Access to LandAccess to land not guaranteedEnsure you have access when purchasingLandlocked parcels  – Written ea...
Final note on boundariesGood idea to walk your property lines at least once a year
Laws                         • Wisconsin’s trespass law:                            – State Statute 943.13                ...
Trespass Law (943.13)Trespassing is:   • entering enclosed or cultivated land   • to use the land   • without permission.•...
Trespass Law (943.13)• 1996 Revision   • Shifts responsibility onto recreationists to     check first   • Not required to ...
What to do in cases of trespass• Ignorance of the law is not a defense• Call the county sheriff• For hunters:   – If a sho...
Recreational Use Statute (895.52)• AKA- “Berry picker law”• Limits private landowners’ liability• Landowners do not have a...
Recreational Use Statute (895.52)You can be liable if you:1. Allow access and don’t disclose a known   hazard or create on...
Recreational Use Statute (895.52)On private, Managed Forest Law lands:• Although not required, courtesy to ask permission•...
Fencing Issues for Woodlot Owners• When is a fence  required?• Who pays?• What is a legal fence?• Procedure to resolve  di...
WARNINGS !• Fences are not  boundaries!• Nobody wants to pay for  a surveyor!• Woodlot owners may  need to build fences!
Fence Law• Chapter 90   – Old law with very few updates   – “common sense” approach   – Used now more than ever   – 2008 c...
When is a fence required?• If either property is used for:   – grazing   – farming• Neighbors may mutually  agree to not h...
How is a fence divided              between neighbors?• “Partition”   – Legal term   – Divided evenly- you pay for     hal...
“Legal Fence”• Lots of choices:   – Woven wire   – Woven wire with barbed or high tensile wire   – Board   – Board and wir...
Resolving disputes• Significant room for  interpretation  – Water may be fence  – Shallow water• Allow recreational use• F...
FARM A – Fence responsibility       NNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAA       A                      N       A                      N     ...
Moral of the story• Good fences make good  neighbors
More resources• www.slideshare.net/jexo• DNR Publications  – 10 Ways to Protect Your Woodland Property• UW-Extension Publi...
Questions?Paul Kloppenburg, 608-355-4476    John Exo, 608-355-3554
A Word About Timber Theft•   Harvesting across the property line•   Cutting unmarked timber•   Skimming off the top•   Und...
Boundaries and Legal Issues for Wisconsin Woodland Owners
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Boundaries and Legal Issues for Wisconsin Woodland Owners

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Presentation for Wisconsin woodland owners on legal and boundary issues.

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Boundaries and Legal Issues for Wisconsin Woodland Owners

  1. 1. Legal Issues for Landowners Paul Kloppenburg, Wisconsin DNR John Exo, UW-Extension
  2. 2. Learning Objectives• Know how to identify your property boundaries;• Understand the common laws that affect woodland owners;
  3. 3. Identifying Property BoundariesWhy identify boundaries? – Timber harvests – Reduce trespass – Avoid adverse possession (extremely rare) – Not everyone knows where boundaries are
  4. 4. History continued• Township exteriors surveyed first• Interior sections surveyed later• County surveyors – Established interior section corners from original surveys
  5. 5. Original survey notes
  6. 6. Legal Descriptions township 6 5 4 3 2 1 7 8 9 10 11 12 18 17 16 15 14 13 1 Section = 640 acres 19 20 21 22 23 24 30 29 28 27 26 251 mile 31 32 33 34 35 36 1 mile
  7. 7. Identifying Property BoundariesHow to read a legal description:The tax bill lists S1/2, NESE, 24, 33N 9E, 20.00.The legal description is: “south half of the Northeast quarter of the Southeast quarter, Section 24, Township 33N, Range 9E (range is E or W), 20 acres”
  8. 8. SE1/4NW1/4 , Sec 21, T2N, R3W
  9. 9. Evolution of Plat Maps• Original plat map of a town• Note no roads, but water features• Used for original land claims
  10. 10. Evolution of Plat Maps• Moderate division• Still large parcels
  11. 11. Evolution of Plat Maps• Modern plat map• Unique section lines…• Extensive land division
  12. 12. Identifying Property Boundaries Historic section or ¼ section corner markers:
  13. 13. Find the corner post
  14. 14. Find the corner post
  15. 15. Find the corner post
  16. 16. Find the corner post
  17. 17. Find the corner post
  18. 18. Find the corner post
  19. 19. Find the corner post
  20. 20. When Should a Property be Surveyed?• Property is divided for sale• Sale, purchase or mortgage• Property improvements planned or to be developed• Burning desire to find corners…
  21. 21. When Should a Property be Surveyed?• When regulations or programs require a survey and map• When location of boundaries or corners is uncertain• When trespass or encroachment is evidenced or suspected.
  22. 22. What will a survey do or show?Surveys can: – Locate ownership boundaries – Establish property corners – Locate parcel improvements – Create a map with parcel legal description – Create a map filed or recorded with county
  23. 23. How is a Survey Obtained?• Must be performed by a Registered Land Surveyor• Phonebook, by reputation, or Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors• Ensure surveyor is licensed (wsls.org)
  24. 24. Survey CostDepends on:• Previous surveys-of-record• Condition of record• Land terrain• Weather• Complexity of survey (e.g. finding or replacing monuments/corners, marking lines, etc.)
  25. 25. Notes on Access to LandAccess to land not guaranteedEnsure you have access when purchasingLandlocked parcels – Written easement (best) – Good will of neighbor (might change) – Prescriptive easement (costly legal process) – Town board condemns right-of-way (unlikely)
  26. 26. Final note on boundariesGood idea to walk your property lines at least once a year
  27. 27. Laws • Wisconsin’s trespass law: – State Statute 943.13 – Revised in 1996 • Recreational Use StatutePhoto by Matthew Davis – State Statute 895.52For more information: • Fence Law Woodland Management(WWOA) Fall 2000 issue – Chapter 90
  28. 28. Trespass Law (943.13)Trespassing is: • entering enclosed or cultivated land • to use the land • without permission.• Entering with a vehicle without permission is also trespassing.• These actions constitute trespass even if the land is not posted.
  29. 29. Trespass Law (943.13)• 1996 Revision • Shifts responsibility onto recreationists to check first • Not required to post “No Trespassing” • Or identify your property boundaries… • Unless your land is surrounded by or borders public lands
  30. 30. What to do in cases of trespass• Ignorance of the law is not a defense• Call the county sheriff• For hunters: – If a shot deer runs onto an adjacent property – If can’t locate the owner or can’t get permission to pursue
  31. 31. Recreational Use Statute (895.52)• AKA- “Berry picker law”• Limits private landowners’ liability• Landowners do not have a duty to: – inspect the property, – keep it safe, or – give warning of an unsafe condition.
  32. 32. Recreational Use Statute (895.52)You can be liable if you:1. Allow access and don’t disclose a known hazard or create one.2. Accept more than $2,000 in compensation3. Invite guests expressly and individually for a specific occasion.*Because of these exclusions, liability insurance is still recommended
  33. 33. Recreational Use Statute (895.52)On private, Managed Forest Law lands:• Although not required, courtesy to ask permission• Allowable recreation on open MFL land -hunting -hiking -fishing -sight-seeing -cross-country skiing Other activities permissible only by consent.
  34. 34. Fencing Issues for Woodlot Owners• When is a fence required?• Who pays?• What is a legal fence?• Procedure to resolve disputes
  35. 35. WARNINGS !• Fences are not boundaries!• Nobody wants to pay for a surveyor!• Woodlot owners may need to build fences!
  36. 36. Fence Law• Chapter 90 – Old law with very few updates – “common sense” approach – Used now more than ever – 2008 challenge: woodlot owners
  37. 37. When is a fence required?• If either property is used for: – grazing – farming• Neighbors may mutually agree to not have a fence.• YES, if you have woods and your neighbor has livestock, a fence is required
  38. 38. How is a fence divided between neighbors?• “Partition” – Legal term – Divided evenly- you pay for half the fence• Neighbors may agree otherwise – In writing, filed with town clerk – Previous oral agreements not binding on present owner
  39. 39. “Legal Fence”• Lots of choices: – Woven wire – Woven wire with barbed or high tensile wire – Board – Board and wire – Wire and picket – Barbed wire – High tensile wire – Electric (both agree in writing, 2 wires) – Other
  40. 40. Resolving disputes• Significant room for interpretation – Water may be fence – Shallow water• Allow recreational use• Fence viewers resolve disputes• Town Boards often mediate
  41. 41. FARM A – Fence responsibility NNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAA A N A N A N N A N A N FARM A A AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA road-road-road-road-road-road-roadRule of Thumb-“Whenever practicable…when facing afarm, going around the farm to the right, the first one-half of the line fence belongs to the farm faced.”
  42. 42. Moral of the story• Good fences make good neighbors
  43. 43. More resources• www.slideshare.net/jexo• DNR Publications – 10 Ways to Protect Your Woodland Property• UW-Extension Publications – Wisconsin’s Recreational Use Statute – Learningstore.uwex.edu
  44. 44. Questions?Paul Kloppenburg, 608-355-4476 John Exo, 608-355-3554
  45. 45. A Word About Timber Theft• Harvesting across the property line• Cutting unmarked timber• Skimming off the top• Under-reporting timber volume• False reporting of a species• Failure to accurately report volume• Failure to report all deliveries• Falsifying mill slips• Stealing from log decks

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