Posted: October 9, 2020

A new law took effect in early 2020 that all of Pennsylvania’s landowners and everyone who spends time outdoors should know about.

Photo by: Sandford Smith, Penn State Extension

Photo by: Sandford Smith, Penn State Extension

Commonly called the “Purple Paint Law," this legislation (House Bill 1772) allows landowners to post their property against trespassing using simple purple stripes painted on trees or fence posts. Also in the law are updates that clarify the act of “criminal trespass."

While No Trespassing signs and fences still remain legal methods to post a property as well, the use of purple paint stripes offers several advantages. Most importantly, the stripes are cheaper and easier to maintain, and they are not as prone to damage, decay, or malicious removal. The use of purple paint has also become a popular method to post a property in more than 10 other states, making it understandable to many non-resident visitors as well. This method is now legal in all Pennsylvania counties, except Allegheny and Philadelphia. 

The law is very specific about the dimensions of the purple stripes and how they must be positioned on trees or fence posts. First, they must be painted vertically—in other words, up and down stripes. The painting of a stripe around a tree in a ring or some other fashion is not admissible. Further, the stripes must be at least 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. And, they need to be positioned high enough for all to see. The law specifically requires that the “bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground nor more than five feet from the ground." 

Lastly, painted stripes are required to not be more than 100 feet apart, though common sense would imply they should be closer in brushy areas or where visibility is blocked. Painting the purple stripes so that they are clearly visible by people entering the property is recommended in the law. The use of latex or tree marking paint is also advisable, as oil-based paints can slowly seep through tree bark and harm or even kill trees. 

For further information about the law, search “PA House Bill 1772" to see the full bill, or view Penn State Extension's New Purple Paint Law video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXQvYKZ_vnI.

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802