Happy Spring 2024. We are now a couple years into a new acceptance for paint as markers in the state of Iowa. Many of us love to go for hikes in the spring. While you are enjoying that natural Iowa beauty you might see trees painted with red or purple paint. Do you know what that means? Many don't realize how important the markings are now, and how important it is to keep an eye out for them.

hiking route in green alpine forest

Both paints mean basically the same thing, but purple is much more popular and means only one thing while that red paint can mean a few other things.

The Purple Paint Law In Iowa

The shortest answer is that these markings can, and do represent a "no trespassing" sign. Iowa laws with this. According to Iowa.Gov,

Senate File 2101 makes changes to Iowa’s trespassing law. If a property owner living in an unincorporated area places purple paint around their property on trees or fence posts, entering the property is forbidden and constitutes trespassing, effective July 1, 2019. The Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources must conduct an information campaign to educate the public and property owners about this change.

The Purple Paint Law gives landowners the option of marking trees or posts to prevent trespassing. One of the biggest benefits of the purple paint being used for no trespassing is that, unlike signs that can be removed or destroyed, the purple paint is pretty permanent.

Many sources have gone on to state that many are in support of the idea behind the purple paint markings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, by an 8-3 margin, agreed to recognize the purple-paint designation as a recognized alternative, permanent method so that a trespasser cannot destroy the means of notice.

The Red Paint Rule In Iowa

I call this a rule since the red paint can mean a few other things. None are backed by the law across the board.

gardeningknowhow.com claims that one of the uses for this color is to signify the tree is on land that belongs to the U.S. Forest Service. Other Sources go on to say it can mark any property line,

If its a line of red painted trees is a property line. Different Timber companys/land owners use different colors to mark their property lines.

While red paint can also mark a tree "not to cut down" while work is being done in an area... so as long as you're not walking through a construction zone in the woods, odds are seeing markings for a property line.

Crossing This Paint Is Trespassing, And The Same Laws Apply

While signs are still used by plenty of landowners in Iowa, it is important to remember that if you walk past purple paint then you are trespassing, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings as you're having fun with friends and loved ones this spring.

Four happy friends enjoy a hike in a forest, California, USA

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Gallery Credit: Various

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