Thursday, October 8, 2009

Posted Sign Do’s and Don’ts

Q. May a hunter who has wounded game pursue it onto posted property?
A. Only if permission has been granted by the posting party.

Most hunters know this. But when it comes to the Posted signs themselves, landowners don’t always know there are rules guiding the information they put on them. We didn’t know either, until a friend of the Almanack sent us this link to a handy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation site.

It’s a helpful page for landowners and hunters, with information on trespass law and liability, but as our friend pointed out, the section on navigation rights could be improved. A few word-tweaks would help clarify this widely misunderstood section of state law. First, get rid of references to “mean high water mark,” which have no bearing on the legality of through-travel on a river. And this friend suggests starting the discussion this way:

Q. May a person travel in a boat or canoe on a waterway which is posted?
A. Yes, but it is illegal to post a waterway against specific navigational activities such as canoeing, kayaking, boating, etc. if the waterway is “navigable in fact” under common law criteria.

There are a few unmistakably navigable rivers in the Adirondacks that are still posted, whether by honest mistake or by intent. The sign pictured here is appropriate for most boundary lines, but facing upstream on a navigable river, as it was on the East Branch of the St. Regis River in June, it confuses if not intimidates paddlers. The landowner, contacted this summer, says the sign came with the property when he bought it in the 1990s and he has no intention of replacing it or changing the wording.

For more information on posting in New York, here is the pertinent section of state Environmental Conservation Law. For more information on public rights of navigation, see this brochure by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

[Post-publication addition: Flickr has a group called “No Trespassing!” featuring Posted signs. The Almanack has added four Adirondack signs, including historical ones, from Lake George Islands, Tahawus, Whitney Park and the East Branch of the St. Regis River. But we don’t endorse the group manager’s incitement to trespass. UPDATE: We quit that group (see comments). You can now see vintage Adirondack posted signs among this Flickr group of Adirondack signs.]

Mary Thill


Mary Thill is a freelance journalist based in Saranac Lake.

You can follow Mary on Twitter.


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