Saturday, November 26, 2011

Caught a Neighbour Attempting to cut a Trail through our Woodlot

There is the odd time especially during hunting season and after a snow fall that I will find footprints through our woodlot but it is not regular and not the norm. This afternoon however, while walking through our woods, I could hear chainsawing that sounded way too close and likely in our wooded property. It is in an area of very dense underbrush difficult to walk through so I rarely go there. I then investigated only to catch my neighbour with a chainsaw coming out on a fresh cut trail towards another neighbour's property between him and I. He told me honestly -- he's an affable enough guy -- that he was trying to find a way to the property on the other side where there is an ATV trail network. He was trying to cut his way through. There is an estimated 21000 trees on the property so it is not like I'll miss the trees he cut which are mostly small.
We were shocked and concerned none-the-less since he intentionally trespassed and worse still, cut trees to make a trail across our property. I am sure that if we came over and cut down trees to make a trail across his much smaller property without permission that his reaction would be the same if not worse.
Had he taken the initiative to approach us and asked permission it might have been a different matter. To provide any access across our property is not, never was and never will be part of our plan for our woodlot property and for a number of reasons.

First of all we value our privacy and security. We live on the lot and increased traffic here increases risk to our personal security. We equally respect our neighbour's properties.

Second of all, when a person trespasses on our property we are liable for any injury that befalls that person. There are hazards like standing dead trees which may fall, pointed sticks one can fall onto etc. in wooded properties. This can put trespassers at risk and we are not prepared to accept that liability.

Thirdly, if we provide access to one person to cross our property it creates a precedent that can become a slippery slope. As soon as there is knowledge that there is a path across the property, word will get out and it is likely that it becomes subject to abuse by all and sundry who do not have permission and are unknown to us. We are not prepared to risk that and to have to monitor the trail use.

Fourth, our woodlot is a managed and certified forest so it is therefore protected. Trees are cut based on a prescriptive plan. Part of that plan is the 25 acres of wetland at the east end of our property which also happens to be protected as a Provincially Significant Wetland. It is therefore further protected by Province of Ontario laws. This severely restricts tree cutting and happens to include the area that I found the neighbour cutting in today.

Regardless, just as we respect other's property I expect our neighbour to respect ours. We write this without prejudice and would respond to all similar actions by other persons in the same way.

I have reported this incident to the local police call center to at least put it on record, should a similar event happen again.

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