Forum Index > Public Lands Stewardship > "Squating" VS "Tresspasing"
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Norm
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PostTue Nov 28, 2023 11:11 pm 
Read a bunch of posts about land access issues. Seems like quite a few here say you don't want to be caught tresspasing to gain access to "Public Lands" beyond. However the new "trend" is that law enforcement will do NOTHING in the case of "squatters". You can't shoot squaters to get rid of them and I think you can't really shoot tresspasers either so what does any of it matter!? Seems like we are going down an entire lawless rabbit hole no? I am on the fence literally since I own a small house on a few acres in a pretty remote area of East WA. There are people going on 3rd year squatting maybe 8 miles down river and so far they are makeing out like bandits! They put up signs saying FU to law enforcement and so far so good! IF they were to take over my place there isn't a whole lot I could do. Law enforcement just doesn't care. I recently spent a night in a nearby cabin I believe is on USFS land. Door wasn't locked so I looked in and found a sort of log book that seemed to indicate maybe I could stay there. So I went back a few days later and stayed there. I parked but didn't move any sleeping or other stuff in 'til way after dark because I fully expected to get a knock on door and told to leave. Which I would have done immediately after apologizing profusely! I guess because I am only an ameture tresspaser so far an I would actually feel bad for takeing over someones cabin. Well no one knocked and I spent the nite. A hunter drove up road on a quad in AM and I thought he was going to drive in and give me 3rd degree. I waved as he got real close & he just kept going past on the road. Whew! I went and hiked up the Mt. like I wanted to and then left around 3 in afternoon. (Great Day & Nite) I guess the only difference between me and squatters is I DONT want to get shot by tresspasing "too agresively" BUT I do kinda want to tresspass if it means I get to go on a cool hike or Mt climb or whatever. Less than 3 weeks ago I went to a place I have been going 20+ years that is a FS RD with a gate. Suddenly someone had put up "Private property" "No T Pass" & "Your on Camera" signs that all turned out to be bogus! I posted about it on this site. How is anyone supposed to know "whats real" anymore? If you really WANT to get to some place and decide to ignore signs even if the signs are legit so say they shoot you dead! Well didn't work out very well for you but maybe the shooter does 5 years since they weren't really allowed to shoot you!? **OR** - lets say the guy just holds you at gun point until LAW arrives? Then what? Now LEO is going to do something? HOW? - The same things that are keeping squatters living there for 3 years come into play. The LEO can't determine if those signs are legit so at that point just walk on to your original objective? NO? What are they going to do? Arrest you for walking down a FS RD? On What grounds? Of coarse the real problem is your car! Somehow they'll find a way to impound your vehicle and it's way to valuable for you to abandone! So I guess this is the difference? You have something to loose? ! Man this all seams really insane.................? Where the *&% are we headed?!

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Snowshovel
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 7:04 am 
Why do you think they will impound your car?

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Norm
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 7:24 am 
I had my car impounded from the road where the Crystal Mt. turnoff is and where Mt Rainier Park gates road for winter one time. (1979 ish) Friend left camera on seat so someone smashed window out. We arrived in dark after skiing 16 miles out to find we had no car! Hitched a ride to nearby store and a guy there said they tow everything up to Ski Area Lot! Somehow we got a ride up there and another guy was stealing his own car out of the lot! (He said it wasn't the first time he had stolen his own car out of tow lot!) The cable wasn't very tight so one guy could stand on it enough so you could drive out. We quickly undid parking brake somehow and drove home! Never was contacted about it. WSP said they towed car because they assumed it would get more vandalized parked where it was! So that's one way you can get impounded. Haveing a working vehicle someplace also give LEO an instant way to identify you. You or I probably wouldn't tell an LEO to pound sand if asked for ID. Squatters down river from me don't have to worry about either thing. If they impound their vehicle they just steal another one.

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Sculpin
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 9:01 am 
I am really confused about trespassing enforcement as well. One thing is abundantly clear: if you play golf with the county commissioners and you report someone trespassing on your land, the cops will show up as quickly as they can and arrest that person. This despite the fact that the pertinent statute calls for citation, not incarceration. The county prosecutor can sort it out later. If you are a person of more modest means, it is unlikely that the cops will show up at all. (I suppose if you say "shots were fired" they might come.) You are just some schmuck standing in a field, how can you even prove you own the land? Just because someone is on your land, that does not mean you can brandish a gun. There has to be a threat. There is no legal way to remove them in any reasonable period of time. My conclusion is that the whole concept of trespassing is quite squishy in the US. That's why folks feel the need to put up threatening signs. I went out to Moss Lake Natural Area in eastern King County yesterday with Androgenoustreefrog (he/him/his). The trails connect to the Global Pacific Tree Farm (recently purchased by Chase Manhattan Bank I am told). As reported by others, there are angry signs saying you need a ($75) permit to hike there. We ignored them as others on this site have done. On the way out, we met a nice lady in a King County Parks jacket and we chatted for a while. I asked her about enforcement in the Tree Farm and she said it was enforced and that if we visited regularly we would meet a patrol. But she kind of had to say that. One thing intrigued me, though. She said Global Pacific was hiring "wildlife agents" who could write a genuine citation for trespassing. I presume she meant people who formally work for the government and so are authorized to write citations, but would be on personal overtime working for a private company? confused.gif WTF? The implication is that a Global Pacific employee with a badge and a logo truck could not write a private citizen a citation for trespassing, which makes sense. But when you add it all up, it doesn't make sense at all! dizzy.gif

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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altasnob
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 9:28 am 
You don't need police involved in order to get a criminal case prosecuted. All that matters is that the relevant prosecutor is convinced they can prove the particular offense beyond a reasonable doubt. So if police are not investigating a trespassing, skip the police and take your case directly to the elected county prosecutor. If the prosecutor is not taking your case seriously, campaign against that prosecutor in the next election. Donate to their opposition. Just like any form of government, the squeaky mouse gets the cheese. Police are just glorified note takers. Anyone can take on that note taking role. You can also file your own civil case against someone for trespassing.

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Anne Elk
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 12:30 pm 
Sculpin wrote:
I am really confused about trespassing enforcement as well. ...Just because someone is on your land, that does not mean you can brandish a gun. There has to be a threat. There is no legal way to remove them in any reasonable period of time. ... My conclusion is that the whole concept of trespassing is quite squishy in the US.
The rules re trespassing and squatting on private land seems to be a matter of local law. Not so relevant to this discussion perhaps, but in the city of Seattle it's common that the local homeless will break into a house recently sold to developers and slated for demolition, and live there for as long as they can get away with it. I found out that LE's hands are tied re removal of the trespassers unless the owner of the property is physically there when LE shows up. I asked a SPD officer how that was different from someone breaking in and living in my house if I was gone for a month. He said that was different and considered "breaking and entering" b/c I was living in the house on an ongoing basis. Go figure. It's still trespassing. Makes huge headaches for the neighbors when the owner is some investment company out of town, and the squatters are doing dangerous/illegal stuff on the premises. More relevant to the OP's complaint perhaps is the 2018 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that ďAs long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter." One court case changed how West Coast cities deal with homeless encampments So if the people squatting several miles downriver from the OP are on public land, and there are no local shelters which can be offered to them, nothing will be done. And likely nothing if they're trespassing (temporarily) on his land.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Stefan
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 2:21 pm 
A friend I know who has hiked in England says that you can walk on any farmer's land as a "go through" at any time. So long as you leave ONLY footprints. Leave gates closed. No garbage. No hunting. No picknicking. No damage to any crops. Only as a walk through. I like that idea.

Art is an adventure.
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Randito
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 2:26 pm 
Under Washington law, on undeveloped land, it is only considered trespassing if a person will not leave when asked. As to the issue of whether you may shoot squatters, that's a no.
RCW 9A.52.105 Removal of unauthorized personsóDeclarationóLiabilityóRights. wrote:
(2) Only a peace officer having probable cause to believe that a person is guilty of criminal trespass under RCW 9A.52.070 for knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building considered residential real property, as defined in RCW 61.24.005, has the authority and discretion to make an arrest or exclude anyone under penalty of criminal trespass.
This ain't the wild wild west.

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Stefan
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 2:28 pm 
Norm wrote:
Man this all seams really insane.................? Where the *&% are we headed?!
If we want to get law enforcement involved....then we must pay more taxes. Law enforcement aint going way outta their way unless there is more $$$$. Especially not after the defund movement. And it is the same for law enforcement on the Federal Lands. You can't get a city cop to look at trespassers on forest service land because that is beyond their jurisdiction. We gotta pay more for law enforcement with the Forest Service....because they have rules for which personnel are allowed to engage in law enforcement and carry a weapon. There are rules.

Art is an adventure.
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Chief Joseph
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 4:48 pm 
There was a guy in Eastern Wa that came back to his rural residence after a few weeks away and returned to squaters in his home. I don't recall all of the details but I do know that the home owner ended up dead. I looked for a link to the story, but couldn't find one, it was maybe a half dozen years ago?

Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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Chief Joseph
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 6:03 pm 
Well, it was a while ago, so the homeowners friend died, thanks for the clarification.

Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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mike
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 7:21 pm 
Stefan wrote:
says that you can walk on any farmer's land as a "go through" at any time.....snipped
Scotland and Scandinavia have very good laws. Scotland OutdoorAccessCode

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Pyrites
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 8:55 pm 
Best thing about reading Scottish govít documents is surety of vocabulary expansion. Thanks.

Keep Calm and Carry On? Heck No. Stay Excited and Get Outside!
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jinx'sboy
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PostWed Nov 29, 2023 10:44 pm 
Stefan wrote:
A friend I know who has hiked in England says that you can walk on any farmer's land as a "go through" at any time. So long as you leave ONLY footprints. Leave gates closed. No garbage. No hunting. No picknicking. No damage to any crops. Only as a walk through. I like that idea.
Absolutely true in Scotland - with some exceptions, like you are supposed to stay on the edges of a field of grain ready to be harvested. And there are some restrictions on entering places during lambing and during some hunting seasons NOT true in the rest of the UK, though. But, England does have an extensive array of paths that do cross private lands and fields, etc. These old rights of way are jealously guarded by a variety of hiker and access groups.

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NightOwl
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PostThu Nov 30, 2023 1:22 am 
Randito wrote:
Under Washington law, on undeveloped land, it is only considered trespassing if a person will not leave when asked.
I'm curious where you're getting this from. When I look at the laws, it says "entering or remaining" is trespassing, not just remaining.

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