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Know trespassing laws; seek permission

Forgive us our trespasses is more than a prayer for some foresters. It is a hope that after doing the right thing by notifying neighboring forest landowners that all will go well when crossing one property to get to your client’s.

Let me relate this to what happened in August 2022.

Our job for the day is to conduct an inspection of a client’s property which includes a statistically sound timber inventory. The property is situated one-quarter mile east from the nearest public road, which meant we had to cross an adjacent landowner’s property to access our client’s property. (We telephoned the adjacent owner the prior afternoon for permission to cross his dad’s property and he gave his blessing.)

We located an old woods road through the south half his property that travels toward our client’s property; however, it was gated and locked on the public road. We decided to park off to the side of the one-lane, narrow parish road and walk onto our client’s property to complete our work.

Upon completion of our inspection and timber assessment, we returned to the public road to find two parish sheriff’s vehicles with lights on and our truck, trailer and four-wheeler blocked by a small tractor behind the trailer, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in front of our truck and a pickup truck in front of the ATV on the road. Apparently we were not going anywhere.

A deputy approached me as I was walking toward the scene in my timber cruising vest and hip pack with my logger’s tape attached and his first words are “Get over here! — is that a weapon in your hand?” (pointing to my Biltmore stick) ... “Do you have any other weapons?”

The interrogation ensued which put me in an upsetting and frustrating defensive position. I answered his barrage of questions and told him I was going to our truck to where there was another deputy with a family.

We were being charged with criminal trespass. Thankfully the deputies let us go after answering the questions which provided a defense to this prosecution.

Below is a short and selected excerpt of 2022 Louisiana Laws Revised Statutes Title 14 — Criminal Law §14:63 criminal trespass below. You can review the entire detail of the law by searching online Louisiana Revised Statute 14:63 (2022).

For landowners, this excerpt includes how to legally post your property, placing your name and address or hunters’ name and address on the “POSTED” sign.

For forestry personnel, I recommend continuing to locate and notify landowners you may have to cross and have your vehicle well identified as to who you represent. This law does not include hauling of timber and a temporary right-of-way agreement between landowner and timber company will have to be in effect prior to crossing another’s property.

RS 14:63 — Criminal trespass

A. No person shall enter any structure, watercraft, or movable owned by another without express, legal, or implied authorization.

B.(1) No person shall enter upon immovable property owned by another without express, legal, or implied authorization.

C.(1) No person shall remain in or upon property, movable or immovable, owned by another without express, legal, or implied authorization.

D. It shall be an affirmative defense to a prosecution for a violation of Subsection A, B, or C of this Section, that the accused had express, legal, or implied authority to be in the movable or on the immovable property.

E. The following persons may enter or remain upon the structure, watercraft, movable or immovable property, of another:

(1) A duly commissioned law enforcement officer in the performance of his duties.

(2) Any firefighter, whether or not a member of a volunteer or other fire department, and any employee or agent of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry engaged in locating and suppressing a fire.

(3) Emergency medical personnel engaged in the rendering of medical assistance to an individual.

(4) Any federal, state or local government employee, public utility employee or agent engaged in suppressing or dealing with an emergency that presents an imminent danger to human safety or health or to the environment.

(5) Any federal, state or local government employee, public utility employee or agent in the performance of his duties when otherwise authorized by law to enter or remain on immovable or movable property.

(6) Any person authorized by a court of law to enter or remain on immovable property.

(7) Any person exercising the mere right of passage to an enclosed estate, as otherwise provided by law.

F. The following persons may enter or remain upon immovable property of another, unless specifically forbidden to do so by the owner or other person with authority, either orally or in writing:

(1) A professional land surveyor or his authorized personnel, engaged in the “practice of land surveying”, as defined in R.S. 37:682.

(2) A person, affiliate, employee, agent or contractor of any business which is regulated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission or by a local franchising authority or the Federal Communication Commission under the Cable Reregulation Act of 1992 or of a municipal or public utility, while acting in the course and scope of his employment or agency relating to the operation, repair, or maintenance of a facility, servitude or any property located on the immovable property which belongs to such a business.

(3) Any person making a delivery, soliciting, selling any product or service, conducting a survey or poll, a real estate licensee or other person who has a legitimate reason for making a delivery, conducting business or communicating with the owner, lessee, custodian or a resident of the immovable property, and who, immediately upon entry, seeks to make the delivery, to conduct business or to conduct the communication.

(4) An employee of the owner, lessee or custodian of the immovable property while performing his duties, functions and responsibilities in the course and scope of his employment.

(5) The owner of domestic livestock or his employees or agents while in the process of retrieving his domestic livestock that have escaped from an area fenced to retain such domestic livestock.

(6) The owner of a domestic animal while in the sole process of merely retrieving his domestic animal from immovable property and not having a firearm or other weapon on his person.

(7) Any candidate for political office or any person working on behalf of a candidate for a political office.

(8) The owner or occupant of a watercraft or vessel traveling in salt water engaged in any lawful purpose for the purpose of retrieval of his property or for obtaining assistance in an emergency situation.

J. Although not required by this Section, notice that entrance upon any structure, watercraft, movable, or immovable property owned by another is prohibited may be indicated by either of the following:

(1) A sign or signs posted on or in the property at a place or places where such sign or signs may be reasonably expected to be seen.

(2) The placement of identifying purple paint marks on the trees or posts on the property, provided that such marks are:

(a) Vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width.

(b) Placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground nor more than five feet from the ground.

(c) Placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than one hundred feet apart on forest land, as defined in R.S. 3:3622, or one thousand feet apart on land other than forest land.

(Steve Lenox is a consulting forester for Muslow Forestry. His email address is


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