Some people are just grumps

trguitar

Feeling the Heat
Dec 2, 2011
255
Harvard, MA
The power company had taken down some smaller sized oak trees along a main, busy, wooded road back in the early fall. They just left them there along the side of the road, and I didn't have any free time to get them until this week. Other people have beaten me to stuff at this spot before, but it had been cut. This was just the trees laid down, so no-one has touched it.

I went yesterday, cut up and took home about 3 trunk loads in my Outback. I was finishing up today when a car pulled up. A man got out, and grumpily asked, "Why are you taking wood off my land?" I just stammered, "The power company took this stuff down 3 or 4 months ago." "Yeah, on my land," he replied. I had most of the wood already loaded in back, and he said, "Take what you have and go." I apologized, said that I thought it was town land (it was probably on the easement), and offered to stack the rest of it for him. He just tersely replied, "No." I thought about offering to drive what I had up to his house, and stack it for him in his yard, but didn't want to escalate things any more, so I apologized again, and he drove off.

I ended up with about 1/2 cord of red oak. The guy was clearly not going to use the wood. I've seen other people stop and take stuff in this area. I really thought it was town land, but I guess I'll try to figure that out next time.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
4,634
07462
Easements tend to not work how people think they work, especially when your state is one of the original 13 colonies, as part of my profession I have to work with rights-of-way on a daily basis, basically easements and public land get broken up into two categories - in-fee and out of fee use
In-fee is the property owner owns all the land to the center line of the road - very typical in the northeast where properties have been situated for long periods of time, and established township roadways.
out of fee is a government owned easement, they are the physical soil owners for that road right of way, this is typical for state and county roads were the road pavement maybe 50ft wide curb to curb plus an additional 10ft width beyond on the curb or road beds on both sides to allow for expansion or storm water run off, a utility may occupy this land under a state or county permit.
Back to township roads, private roads, utility right of ways (through fields or woodlands) the utility typically has an easement for that said line, the easement allows for the erection, maintenance, vegetation removal for that specific line as outlined in the utility easement (general boiler pot type just with the block and lots) but under no circumstance does that mean the utility owns the soil beneath, it has been just given permission to occupy the area.
Even more confusing is when you look as a tax map or site plan and see a twp. right of way, this is typically made by towns for there water and sewer, or sidewalks if in a more developed area, under that type of easement there is a general public indemnification agreement that would keep the land owner from getting sued if someone were to trip and fall on a side walk in front of there house, it still doesn't give the right for someone to enter the persons land say between the road curb and sidewalk (3ft) and take logs or anything from the property without permission since the town isn't the soil owner, they just have permission to occupy like a private utility.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,029
Whitmore lake, MI
Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. You are probably right. The owner more than likely would have let that wood sit and rot considering the time that has already passed. He just felt the need to let you know you were trespassing in a Dickish way.
 

billb3

Minister of Fire
Dec 14, 2007
4,667
SE Mass
Even if it was "town land" that doesn't necessarily mean the wood belongs to everyone and anyone.
"Town land " often has a nature preservation use attached to it which means any wood that falls or is cut and left on the forest floor is supposed to rot as part of the preserve natural forest. No harvesting allowed.
You can invent all the excuses you want to justify stealing wood that isn't yours, that doesn't change what you've done nor does it make a theft not a theft. In far too many cases if you ask first the owner says go ahead. just take with out asking and they are pissed off. Just as pissed off as you would be if someone came and took your stacked stash because "it didn't look like you were using it", or "you have more than you should" or any myriad of logical fallacies that support the agenda..

I pay taxes to the center of the street even though I can't do with it as I wish nor use the street or sidewalk in any manner I choose. In fact the sidewalk is considered an "improvement" for which I am tasked with maintaining in the Winter by keeping it passable and useable by pedestrians.
 
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Grizzerbear

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2019
419
SW Missoura
In hindsight you should have checked to see who owned the land for sure.....town or private owner...... and got permission. Im sure you know this now though. Down here i would be afraid a person could possibly get shot for that. Not sayin it would be justified but theres some crazy people out there.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
768
Palmyra, WI
Around by me, we have townships (6x6mi) and villages (village land, incorporated, with a village board, sidewalks, sewer etc). I live in the township, rural, class c roads, dirt roads. Both the township, and utility companies (electric) will cut what they need to, chip what they can, and leave the rest. It's good manners to leave alone what you know someone may have dibs on. Kind of an unspoken - watch out for the neighbors thing, especially if there is activity in the area - mowed lawn, active field laneways, close to buildings etc. If not any of that, most times , after some time, someone will come get it scarfed, without too much trouble. If you were near someones house, then it would stand to reason that someone would get a little uptight with activity going on out front. If in doubt, (and possibly fear for your life), a quick knock on the door would get an equally quick answer, yep go for it, or no - choice to leave it where it lay. We just had the elect company come around trimming, chipping and leaving 4ft pcs up and down the roads. The neighbors came and got all of it, except those within sight of the house here. It layed there for almost 2 months (odd lengths, I didn't want to fool with it). I finally came to get it. Different ones stopped to talk, knew I burned, and purposely had left it alone. If they had asked earlier, answer would have been take it, give it a good home.
 

Grizzerbear

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2019
419
SW Missoura
Not trying to rub it in....but I work for the street and water department of my hometown and the cities in my area own the road to three feet past the ditch, culvert or sidewalk....whichever is furthest from the center of road. I have scored a lot of good shoulder wood because of this lol. But i have also had to ckean a lot of culverts of leaves that citizens have blown from their yard and then called to gripe why their cukvert is plugged because it is the cities duty to maintain. Gotta take the good with the bad i reckon.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,654
Central Mass
There is a ton of wood that has been cut down in the town next to me in Connecticut, if I had a truck I'd ask around and see if I could get some of it. Its been sitting on the side of the road for over a year and will probably rot. I think you handled it the best way you could and hey, you got half a cord of red oak.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,587
central pa
I am sorry but I would be pissed if you were on my property doing something without asking. Around here you don't cut anywhere without having permission to do so. Plenty of people are perfectly willing to give that. But you better ask
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
768
Palmyra, WI
Other people have beaten me to stuff at this spot before, but it had been cut. This was just the trees laid down, so no-one has touched it.
I went yesterday, cut up and took home about 3 trunk loads
That would be a problem. Liability issues for one. Guy down the road had the habit of trimming trees along the road and using the wood. Got a little more bold once and dropped a good sized tree to cut up. The township supervisor finally came by, told him to knock it off.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
4,634
07462
Around here most properties are "built out" meaning even the larger tracks of land have a home on it, there are a few large sections of land that are owned by the watershed co that 2 main roads cut through, each road is approx. 10 miles long, there are times when tree's fall or there general trimming, the county or foresters will chip up the smaller stuff and leave the logs behind, those get taken pretty quickly and no one says anything as long as your not creating a traffic issue, the properties that are built on, people leave alone. In my area firewood is plentiful and if you've been around for a while you generally know someone with property that doesn't mind you getting deadfall tree's.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,029
Whitmore lake, MI
Trespassing is trespassing no matter what but was this stuff literally right next to the road like on the shoulder or was it like 39 yards off the road? I do not advocate walking into people’s land to do anything let alone start ripping chainsaws and removing trees. The land owner had every right to be pissed. Probably could have handled it better but.....who am I to say how people should act or react. If the stuff was curbside under power lines I could understand a little confusion. But at the end of the day trespassing is trespassing and that kind of stuff can get you shot.
 

CincyBurner

Feeling the Heat
Mar 10, 2015
439
SW Ohio
This is a topic that pops up regularly on the forum and elicits lots of response. I guess it goes to property rights, and how we deal with one another civilly.
I agree with others of responding back about easement - and sovereignty of property. Thanks kennyp2339 for background on easements in 'Original 13'. I thought there might be something different than in rest of states.

In Ohio there is difference between easement and
public right-of-way. On our local plat maps easements are typically not noted, but right-of-way is noted and is separate from parceled real estate property.
If it's easement, the property owner still owns property, but another entity (e.g. gas or power utility company) might hold an easement to permit them to do stipulated, maintenance around their utility (trim vegetation for wire clearance, or upgrade utility). Sometimes involves right-of-entry.
If it's public right-of-way, it's been land obtained by municipalities for purpose of conveyance of traffic (typically vehicular and pedestrian), and is owned by the municipality (although they might stipulate sidewalk repairs be made by the homeowner).

Municipalities might have a historical easement for sewer, but would have preferred that it would have been on right-of-way should they need to do an upgrade, because they would own/ control the land outright.

In Ohio trees removed on right-of-way (City trees) by municipalities (or under permit by them) and the wood, can be left on right-of-way for anyone to take - first come, first served.
That said I still knock on the door of the abutting owner for right-of-way scrounges . And I definitely talk with owner if wood is on their property. It's the courteous, neighborly thing to do. Perhaps they have plans for it, or promised it to a friend, but just haven't gotten around to it. Plus it's an opportunity to meet and talk with someone new. Often they are glad to have someone take it off their hands. And after a few years you develop a reputation as the guy in the neighborhood that will take wood from downed trees.
 

hickoryhoarder

Feeling the Heat
Apr 5, 2013
375
Indiana
I'd say you did him a favor. Hope the world becomes more like you, less like him. You didn't go in there a day after it was cut.
 

hickoryhoarder

Feeling the Heat
Apr 5, 2013
375
Indiana
I'd say you did him a favor. Hope the world becomes more like you, less like him. You didn't go in there a day after it was cut.

You did all the work and he still had a chance to have you drive the wood in your vehicle up to his house.
 

PA. Woodsman

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2007
2,028
Emmaus, Pennsylvania
It's usually pretty easy to find out who owns a section of land, just check with your local assessments department, give them the address and they should be able to tell you who owns it so you can get in touch with them and ask if you can have it, most times I have found the answer is "yes". I would suggest that from now on, just because others are taking it doesn't make it right!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,587
central pa
I'd say you did him a favor. Hope the world becomes more like you, less like him. You didn't go in there a day after it was cut.
Why would you want more people who use other people's property without permission? Just because they aren't using it doesn't mean it is up for grabs.
 

heavy hammer

Minister of Fire
Jul 18, 2015
1,570
Kirtland Ohio
I agree with most here it is usually easier to ask first in my opinion than just walk on to property not yours. It is a quick way to end up in a bad situation.
 
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trguitar

Feeling the Heat
Dec 2, 2011
255
Harvard, MA
The wood was a few feet from the road. It was not way in there. There is no way I would take wood from someone else's land, if it were more than a few feet in from the road.
 

trguitar

Feeling the Heat
Dec 2, 2011
255
Harvard, MA
Just so you all don't think I'm a jerk -- this past summer a new neighbor had a ton of trees taken down on his property. It was just laying in his yard for weeks. As a way to introduce myself, I asked if he had plans for the wood, and he said I could have it all. It ended up being 5 cord. This was in a residential neighborhood with 15 to 20 mph speed limits.

The wood in this thread was on a main, rural road with 50 mph speed limits, and no sign of a house. The wood had been sitting there for 4 months, right on the side of the road. But, point taken. I will try to figure out who owns it next time, and ask, even in this situation. By "town land" I meant owned by the town because it's right next to the road. I didn't imply conservation land.

Maybe I'm naive, but I was just surprised by his gruffness. If I saw someone on my property right next to the road collecting pine needles or leaves, I'd at least be friendly. Even if there was wood there, and they were cutting it up, I would at least strike up a friendly conversation.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
758
Rochester NY
I'm pretty back and forth on this, because on one hand if you're just helping yourself to wood on someone else's property regardless of whether you think they have plans for it or not, is pretty ballsy of you and something I wouldn't do myself.

On the other hand, as stuff sits for months, chances are it will just end up rotting away there. I think you handled it well by offering pretty much everything you could to diffuse the situation though, and if the guy basically said "take what you got and don't come back" then fair enough. Lots of "what if's" in these situations where, even though maybe we drive by a pile of wood for months with an owner who likely is doing nothing with it, who knows if he has other friends/relatives he's saving it for. No way to really know without asking permission, and the worst anyone can say at that point is "no".
 

Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
658
Newport, Wa
I would have Asked before. But sounds like this guy is a Dick. I have an 100ft White Pine that is half on the ground, your welcome to it if you were closer. I buck up my wood and just give it away now that I use Pellets. Wish we had OaK available.
 

paulnlee

Member
Dec 2, 2018
239
Flemington, NJ
Boy you guys are easy. I would never go onto property along the road, they might encounter someone like me. You come onto my land you will see me and my SIG...….and then I'll ask questions.