Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: There is a better way to post private property

Vermont should adopt the Purple Paint Law (PPL) to replace the annual posting of private property.

The PPL allows landowners to “post” their property with stripes of purple paint applied according to specific instructions on trees or fence posts. Most states stipulate the stripes must be vertical and not less than eight inches long and not less than one inch wide. They are to be placed no lower than three feet and no higher than five feet above the ground and must be readily visible to anyone approaching the property — no more than 100 feet apart in forested land and 1,000 feet apart in open land. 

This system would allow a welcome alternative to the current yellow posted signs but would not replace the current system. Under the PPL, landowners could choose which method they want to use to protect their property. If a property were sold and the new owner wanted to allow access, the stripes could be painted over.

Posting with “signs” that are permanent and do not have to be updated every year would be beneficial for many landowners who wish to prohibit hunting on their property. The present posting regulations are arduous and challenging for many people for a variety of reasons. Signs made of metal or plastic are extremely expensive, especially for large properties or farms. The less expensive Tyvek signs degrade over time and must be replaced. They are also easily damaged or removed, which may make property no longer legally posted.

Under the current system, every single sign must be dated annually and must include the name and address of the property owner. Landowners must file annually with their town clerk and pay a small fee. If these conditions are not met every year, your land is not posted legally, and you have no control of what activities may take place there. People can legally hunt without permission, in some cases at night, for most months of the year on unposted, or improperly posted, land.

I am 69 years old and have 30 acres surrounded by properties open to hunting and trapping. I have a herd of rescued equines including five minis about the same size and coloring as bears or deer. I enjoy walking my property every day year-round with my dogs, who also resemble bears or deer in size and coloring, and especially enjoy the autumn months (i.e.: hunting season) when the foliage is so beautiful. 

To ensure the safety of my animals and myself I do not want hunting or trapping on my property. So, every year I must walk the perimeter of my 30 acres and update my posted signs. Due to the regulations about placement, some signs must be in areas that can be challenging to access due to the terrain. I’m fine now, although this task is time-consuming, but I worry about the future and what will happen if I am unable to physically maintain the posted boundary of the land I own and on which I pay hefty property taxes.

An additional concern is that Vermont leads the nation in incidents of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Forcing people to traipse through fields of high grass and shrubs, the perfect habitat for ticks, to post their property, is unfair and unsafe. Painting a stripe is clearly more economical, efficient, equitable, and physically easier, than the current posting system. People who are physically challenged due to age or disability would benefit from this law.

As an alternative option to the present posting regulations, the Purple Paint Law would offer a fair and effective means of posting and protecting private property. 

If you agree with me and would like Vermont to join the 17 states that have already adopted this law, please contact your state legislators, and let them know you support the implementation of the Purple Paint law in Vermont.

Jennifer Lovett

Starksboro

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