Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Good Fences Make Bad Neighbors
Donald Trump is locked in a dispute with a Scottish couple who refuse to sell their home to make way for a golf course. To pressure the homeowners, Trump built a fence around their house and sent them a bill for half of the construction costs. Can your neighbor force you to pay for a fence you don't want? Yes, in some places. Fence laws originated with disputes over livestock, which may wander off their owner's land and cause damage. Judges and legislators have developed three different schemes for allocating the costs of restraining animals. Countries or states with "fence-in" systems require ranchers to build and pay for fences to keep their cattle on their land. "Fence-out" regimes allow livestock to go where they please, and impose the cost of fencing on neighbors who don't want animals on their property. Lastly, a few Solomonic legislatures have split the difference, forcing neighbors to share the cost of a fence, even if one of them doesn't want it. Scotland has technically been a cost-sharing country since the March Dykes Act of 1661, which requires neighbors to share the costs of "building, ditching, and planting the dyke which parteth their inheritance." Few Scots invoke the hoary statute these days, so it's not clear whether Trump will be successful. While the clear trend in the United States is toward the fence-in requirement, there are still a number of holdouts. New Mexico, for example, is a fence-out state (PDF)...more