Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Of Interest to Kayakers

It was reported this morning on WAMC's North Country News that a state supreme court judge has upheld the Department of Environmental Conservation's position that if a stream is navigable, paddlers have the legal right to use it. The decision came in a lawsuit brought by the Brandreth Park Association against Phil Brown, the editor of the Adirondack Explorer. In 2009, Brown wrote an article for the not-for-profit magazine recounting his experience canoeing in the Adirondacks, from Lake Lila to Little Tupper Lake. His route took him across Brandreth land, where "No Trespassing" signs had been posted and a cable had been stretched across the stream. With the article as evidence, the Brandreth Park Association sued Brown for trespassing, but the judge maintained that Brown had the right to paddle on the Adirondack stream and ordered the landowner to stop posting signs to deny access to the waterway. Click here to listen to the entire report.

The decision obviously has relevance for kayakers who venture into Holcim-owned South Bay and take photographs like the one reproduced here.

1 comment:

  1. Nice picture of the South Bay's East Creek. On the right you see the invasive Phragmites australis (a.k.a. The Wasteland), and on the left, which is south, there is a small paradise filled with state-protected plants.

    I wouldn't have learned about this Brandeth Park case if it wasn't for Gossips, but it's astonishing to know that this case got as far as it did.

    In New York state, our rights to use the water surfaces in most cases precede the rights of those who own the underwater lands. This comes down from colonial law, and is recognized as our Common Law.

    It's generally accepted that these rights were established well before Magna Carta. Lately it's been mooted in academe whether the King's law intended such a degree of liberty, but like not or not it's been NY state law since our founding, and the water surface is ours.

    Nevertheless, I always bring a print-out of the law with me while I'm kayaking, in the event that some new policeman is not familiar with our immemorial rights. In this way I can spare the mistaken officer the eventual charge of false arrest.

    Included in these rights to navigation is the occasional pull-out for boaters to enjoy a respite from paddling, the right to portage around tree-falls and waterfalls, and a right to launch from road verges, such as the verge along Route 9G at the South Bay's East Basin.

    I spoke with a group in Manhattan this evening who asked whether I'd be willing to speak to others about the little-known laws and administrative arrangements of New York state.

    "Yes!" I replied, but only if we begin with the City of Hudson, so that everyone is aware just how many environmental laws our politicians are willing to disregard on their relentless march towards who-knows-what.

    It would be nice if our alderman showed some curiosity about these things, wouldn't it? I don't see too much of that though. No matter who's on the council, it's always window-dressing with them (and I dare say I'd slump into such ineffectuality myself, the unconscious urge for compliance with the special interests who rule us being so ineluctable).

    But please do not accept any claims about the laws of New York state from anyone who does not provide chapter and verse, ESPECIALLY FROM LAWYERS!

    Anyone who makes claims ought to be able to back them up. For now on, all "experts" must be held to account. We've had enough prevarication around here.