From time to time the question arises is this fence mine and who has responsibility for keeping it up? The following are some recommendations and law from Colorado.
(See also: Fences: Can’t Live with “em or Without ‘Em – Part 1).
Colorado law provides every property owner with the legal right but no obligation to fence property. The state’s fencing statute dates to the early 1880s and is referred to as “open range.” The laws specify the legal responsibility of property owners and livestock owners in the state. The fence law is not part of the criminal code. Most violations are handled in civil court.
Fencing laws work to keep livestock off highways and safe on their owner’s property. At a time when everyone owned livestock, it was a simple matter of sharing the cost of building and maintaining a fence.
Today, the rules are complicated, but still revolve around the “Right-Hand Rule” in most states. If two neighbors are both running animals on their farms, they stand on their side of the fence and face it. The fence to their right, from its midpoint to the outside corner, is their responsibility. The fence on the left is the neighbor’s.
Property owners can make other legal arrangements with their neighbors regarding common fences that may alter the right hand rule. If the neighbor doesn’t have livestock, then the owner who does have animals must build and maintain the entire fence between the properties.
Colorado’s open range law does not give stockmen the right to allow animals to range at will. According to Colorado law, livestock must be fenced away from roads and town. County sheriffs can enforce a law concerning animals running at large.
Colorado stockmen are required to provide adequate grazing and water in any fenced pasture. They must also quickly recover any animal that escapes the pasture and routinely inspect fences and maintain them in good repair. Stockmen in Colorado are also required to carry liability insurance on their herd.
Colorado fence law does not apply to federal lands. Fencing requirements on federal lands are defined in the Taylor Grazing Act. This federal law supersedes any state law on federal lands.
If you are having disagreements with neighbors covering fencing it may be best to consult with a lawyer if you cannot come to an agreement between yourselves.
For assistance in planning or improving your fencing projects, contact the NRCS in Simla at 504 Washington St or give us a call at 719-541-2358.
Double El Conservation District and Agate Conservation District are located with the NRCS and available to help with your conservation needs.