I want to pick up where I left off from yesterday’s blog. Running up against an endless succession of No Trespassing signs touched a raw nerve with me. It’s not the first time. Yesterday I was cruising along a back road looking for a trailhead. I never found it. It may have been damaged during last winter’s ice storm, or the trail may have been re-routed. My guidebook at home was several years out-of-date. I thought about bushwhacking my way up the small Pack Monadnock, but every tree (or so it seemed) carried a bright yellow No trespassing sign. Tucked away somewhere behind these was the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, but this row of property owners seemed determined to keep me out.

Earlier this summer, I spent a couple of weeks in Finland. There and in other Nordic countries is a concept called Everyman’s Right … this is part of their culture, and it is enshrined in their law. Anyone can wander through any natural area without restriction. The exceptions are walking through gardens or planted fields, or too close to homes. People can camp wherever they wish without the property owner’s permission as long as it is not too close to a home, and as long as they are not too noisy, leave litter, or cause any damage. There are a few narrowly defined instances when access to a piece of property may be restricted, but these generally require the approval of some government agency.

I think we can take a lesson from this. What is the point of prohibiting someone from walking through the woods where there’s no home or anything else there? What does it mean to own a piece of land? Where does the boundary line of personal privacy begin? Or does this go back to liability, insurance, and litigation?

As anyone can probably tell, this is a long-time pet peeve of mine, and I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting it from time to time.

Advertisements