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Line Maintenance
by Andrew Nix

What good are property and boundary lines? A well maintained boundary line is what makes good neighbors even better. Properly maintained lines establish property ownership and can reduce incidences of encroachment, trespass, timber trespass, and timber theft. Properly maintained lines provide clear avenues to post your property with signage that can reduce incidences of people trespassing to hunt on your property.

How do you obtain property and boundary lines? If you are newly acquiring a tract of property and are comfortable with the present location of the property lines, a formal agreement with your neighboring landowners or affirmation of the lines through your maintenance of the lines is enough to establish property lines.

The more prudent choice would be to obtain the services of a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS). For more information on Professional Land Surveyors, check the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors website at www.aspls.org or the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors at www.bels.state.al.us. A PLS will establish and mark property lines according to your deed description. The PLS will make notes of any deviations of property line from the deed description and will note other items such as encroachments onto your property.

Once you have the lines established, maintenance should be performed every 5 to 10 years. If you have a large number of lines, you should begin a cycle so that you are refreshing a portion of your property lines every year, while covering every mile of lines over a 5- to 10-year period. This maintenance would consist of freshening blazes, paint, and posting signs.

The boundary trees need to be blazed and painted close enough for the line to be easily seen by you and your neighbors. The posting of signs can be done at any interval, with 100 to 250 feet between signs adequate. Winter is a great time for doing property line maintenance due to the lack of foliage; just remember that the line needs to be visible during the peak foliage months during the summer. The recognized method of marking and maintaining boundary lines can best be shown with the following examples:

Example 1. Property Corner

A tree with three (3) blazes (Figure 1) around the circumference of the tree denotes a property corner. This does not mean the tree is the actual property corner, only that you are near a property corner and to expect the boundary line to change direction. Witness trees (Figure 2) will usually have an "X" inscribed in the bark, with the "X" pointing towards the corner monument.

Example 2. Line trees

These trees are blazed and painted where the line actually goes between trees as shown in Figures 3 and 4. Blaze and paint a face of the tree towards the line and where your adjacent

 neighbor could see he is nearing the actual property line. Also, blaze and paint a face towards the line and your property alerting you or your lessee of an approaching property line. This clearly shows that the actual property line runs between these trees. It is sound practice to exclude line trees from any timber sales that you may have on your property, and to also encourage your neighbors to do the same. It can alleviate a lot of frustration in the future over lost or moved property lines and can save money by not having to have the line resurveyed.

Example 3. Line through trees

Occasionally the property line will actually project through trees existing on the line, and these trees would be marked as shown in Figures 5 and 6.

For more information, contact Andrew Nix, Forestry Program Specialist, at 64 N. Union Street, Suite 584, Montgomery AL 36104 or at 334-242-3469.

Andrew Nix is a Forestry Program Specialist with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

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Date Last Updated January, 2006