No Trespassing Signs and Modern Day Monkey Wrenching

Some walkers and hikers want the right to travel unhampered by “no trespassing” and “keep out” signs.

| April 24, 2008

dawn hiker

Many people value the freedom to move about and enjoy the outdoors. Is unrestricted movement a natural right?


After you've read the following essay, we invite you to discuss your thoughts on walkers rights and trespassing laws by clicking  here . — Mother Earth News editors

When very-much-a-non-Saint Edward Abbey violated billboards back in the 1950s (leading to the frolic of the Monkey Wrench Gang as told in the classic novel of 1976) things were different. Signs were made of wood. And commerce wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today. He could use a hatchet, or gasoline and matches, to rid the rural landscape of these human-made blemishes. No more.

Now the signs which barrage us with so much information are made by impersonal corporations and constructed of steel. They can still be “monkey wrenched,” but it takes quite a tall ladder, guts and spray paint. But no matter the effort, getting rid of them is no longer possible (outside of dynamite or legal means).

Happiness in Nature

When my wife and I bought a small off-the-grid cabin as our Thoreau-type home, we were quite happy. Three acres nestled at 2,000 feet, where the Sierra Mountains meet the Cascade Mountains — it was exactly what we were looking for. Good California climate. Reasonable road access. Close enough to jobs. Cheap enough to enable us to work part-time. Wild. Semi-level. And solar powered. Happiness.

From the former owners, we inherited those ugly “no trespassing” signs which encircled the three-acre property. One of our first acts of sociability was to walk the property and tear down the noxious signs. Why? Because they are ugly and made of plastic (they will last thousands of years). Their loud, neon letters are anti-social. I want the animal life to trespass. All the bunnies, deer, bears, raccoons, rattlesnakes, gophers, mountain lions, skunks and the occasional hiker are welcome to walk through our property.

Evidently, not everyone feels the same as I do.

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