Do you own a woodlot - Time to repaint the boundaries

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Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Jul 11, 2008
Northern NH
I have owned my woodlot coming up on 10 years. The boundaries were marked with painted ax blazes from when it was surveyed 20 years ago. There are signs that it had been surveyed many years ago possibly back in the 1920s as the corner pins are quite old with occasional line pins along one sideline. The prior owner had reblazed it once since the more recent survey but by the time I got it, they were fading when I bought it and used the reblazing as an excuse to check out the boundaries. I did not know what he used, but the year I bought the lot, I bought some official boundary line paint and repainted the lines. In NH the only one who can ax blaze or even initially paint a boundary line is a surveyor but a landowner can repaint existing blazes. I have mostly hardwoods. I was out in the woods earlier this year and realized my ten year old marks were fading and flaking off. Many of the original ax blazes have mostly healed up so the paint goes in the hole if its open and then on the healed scar around it. Blazing paint used to be enamel loaded with nasties and lasted a lot longer but due to VOC limits most have gone to latexes that just do not last as long. Hiking trail maintainers run into the same thing. I can sometimes find 40 or 50 year old blazes made with the older formulation paint, but the new blazes really fade in less than 10 and people start complaining about them in five or six years.

It' is easy to ignore boundary lines until you need them, and in many cases it only after the damage is done that a surveyor is called. With woodlands, loggers in theory are supposed to stay outside of adjoining properties but with a nice mature veneer log going for hundreds and poorly marked lines it's easy to get "confused". Good boundary blazing usually keeps the temptation from getting the best of them;). The other reality is that many lots who claim to have been surveyed decades ago may have been laid out and surveyed by a non surveyor using the wrong tools. The deed may have precise distances but if the person who measured them did not know what they were doing, the measurements can be way off especially on steely sloping land like mine. Folks do not realize that the deeded measurements of a lot are secondary to actual evidence in the field like survey pins, monuments ax blazed trees and evidence of use. By keeping the lines marked for the long term if there ever is boundary dispute, what is on the ground usually wins. over measurements. Boundaries disputes can get real expensive as both parties need to hire surveyors and then go to court for a judge to decide. Its also protecting an investment, a new survey on my 85 acre lot would be in the 10to 15K range. Like every other profession, surveyors are getting old and retiring and few young folks are getting into the business.

Generally, woods surveys have three types of blazes, trees directly on the line will have an ax blaze and paint on either side of the tree in line with the line. Trees within 6' of the line are usually blazed facing towards the line. If the neighbor gives permission, the surveyor will do both sides of the line including on the neighbor's property. Dont do it on the neighbor's land without permission or they could try to charge you under timber trespass laws. The key is to mark the trees so that someone entering the property from the adjoining property can see the blazes.

I do my blazing this time of the year when the leaves are down and the woods are about as dry as they get. I have done it on snowshoes in early spring but the footing is better without them. I pour the paint in peanut butter jars and use disposable brushes along with an old jacket and work gloves as the paint tends to spatter a bit while getting in the crevices. I only need to do two lines as my back line is shared with town forest that seems to get reblazed every 10 years or less. The total boundaries I need to paint is about 6000 feet of mostly open hardwoods.
Sounds like a nice day in the woods. Nice to hear you are maintaining your boundary. I spent years on the other end. The guy getting called in to survey. Great life but feeding the stove in a warm house isn't bad either:cool:.