Bartels: Purple paint marks private property

Posted by: Adam Kern  | Friday, September 20, 2019

With autumn comes the turning of the leaves, cooler mornings and for many, hunting and trapping season. As Hoosiers make their way through the great outdoors, it’s important they and landowners are aware of Indiana’s purple paint law.

This law, which I helped enact in order to provide a simple solution for marking property lines, is a tool to prevent trespassing and minimize liability if someone enters private property and gets hurt. Unlike signs that fade, are vandalized or destroyed by the elements, paint lasts for years, cannot be easily removed and is inexpensive.

Landowners who use the purple paint method need to follow certain protocols. When marking a tree, the purple paint must be in a vertical line, at least 8 inches long, with the bottom of the mark between 3 and 5 feet off the ground. Markers on trees must be less than 100 feet apart.

When marking posts, the purple paint cannot be more than 36 feet from the nearest other marked post. The purple mark must cover at least the top 2 inches of the post, and be 3 to 5 feet, 6 inches from the ground. For posts or trees dividing two different properties, both landowners must agree to use the purple paint method.

Using purple paint to mark private property is also a practice used in other states, including Illinois, Kansas, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Idaho, Florida, Maine, North Carolina, Missouri and Texas.

It’s important for everyone to respect private property. While most adhere to signs and marked lines, some may unintentionally wander onto private land, while others may do this intentionally. Regardless, trespassing is a serious issue, which could result in someone getting hurt or charged with a crime.  Purple paint can help prevent these potential accidents from taking place by ensuring hunting occurs in designated areas, and no one unintentionally trespasses onto private property.

This simple yet effective option to marking private property helps keep hunters and hikers safe, while providing a solution for landowners.

The next time you see purple paint on a tree or post, please remember that it marks private property, and it is against the law to enter the grounds without permission. Let’s all stay safe this autumn as we enjoy the great outdoors.


State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74, which
includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.