There are “No Trespassing” signs around the Mason Center, including on the path I use every day. Isn’t this public property? Then there are “No Trespassing” signs around the School District 9-R administration building just down the street where I walk every day, now in fear of getting arrested. Isn’t the school district a public entity? Is a wall coming? Will it cost $5 billion? – Dave Mehan
Apparently, “trespassing” is a massive problem because the Colorado Revised Statutes feature no fewer than 86 different sections in which the word “trespass” appears.
Trespass laws cover agricultural fencing, cattle drives, mining claims and even ne’er-do-well outfitters and guides.
The most relevant edicts, with three degrees of severity, make sure the worst scofflaws and interlopers get sent to the hoosegow.
Hooray! Not for all the laws, but for the opportunity for Action Line to use his three signature words in the same column: scofflaw, interloper and hoosegow.
However, the state’s best trespass laws are the ones regarding pigs and space.
That’s Pig AND Space. Not Pigs IN Space. (Does anyone remember “Pigs In Space,” the recurring bit on The Muppet Show?)
Anyway, Colorado’s “No Hogs to Run at Large” law is quite severe. Out-of-line swine will set you back some serious coin:
“No hog or swine shall be permitted to run at large, and the owner of any hog or swine trespassing on the property of any person is liable in treble the damages occasioned by such trespass and a fine of not less than five dollars nor more than ten dollars for each offense.”
In the meantime, there’s a 1937 law on the books that covers the newfangled trespassing thingamajig called the aero-plane.
“The ownership of space above the lands and waters of this state is declared to be vested in the several owners of the surface beneath, subject to the right of flight of aircraft,” the trespass law asserts.
Action Line is in hog heaven with pigs and space. But that has nothing to do with the Mason Center or the school administrative offices.
The signs at either facility are more informative than punitive.
That’s because Colorado law generally says you must let someone know they are trespassing before you can do anything about it.
In the case of the Mason Center, the “No Trespassing” signs were put up proactively, according to our good friend Cathy Metz, director of Durango Parks & Recreation.
The city owns the Mason Center, a really old, former school building that “has reached the end of its useful life,” she said.
While a new Parks & Rec facility is constructed, crews are using the space on the east wing of the building (where the No Trespassing signs are posted) as temporary storage for seasonal equipment and supplies.
The area appears semi-abandoned, and Cathy didn’t want anyone to get ideas of “exploring” or helping themselves to soccer nets and whatnot. Up went the signs.
At the 9-R building, it’s sort of the same thing.
If you don’t have a reason to be there, you shouldn’t be there. Schools are keenly alert to this sort of thing.
Remember, just because something is “public” doesn’t mean it’s open everyone.
For example, the governor’s mansion is owned by the people, but you can’t just waltz in, make a sandwich and watch the Super Bowl with Jared Polis.
Action Line’s best advice: peregrinate but don’t interlope.
And never use a big word when a diminutive one will do.
Pardon this linguistic trespass.
E-mail questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you knew that you can’t enter the mailroom because it’s posted.