New York State’s highest court has ruled that it doesn’t have enough evidence to rule on a long-running navigation-rights dispute between the editor of the Adirondack Explorer and a group of property owners.
The decision sends the six-year-old case back to a lower court for trial. It also wipes out, at least for now, a pair of decisions that cleared the way for the public to paddle a waterway that connects two parts of the state-owned William C. Whitney Wilderness.
In a unanimous decision handed down Tuesday morning, the seven-member Court of Appeals found the court record in the case is filled with too much “conflicting or inconclusive evidence” and that a trial on the facts is warranted.
In their regional bestseller, A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake Champlain, now in its 3rd printing, Catherine Frank and Margaret Holden offered detailed paddling tours circumnavigating America’s “other great lake.”
Now, in A Paddler’s Guide to the Champlain Valley: Exploring the Rivers, Creeks, Wetlands and Ponds (Black Dome Press, 2015), they explore the “interior,” the waters within the seven basins of the Champlain Valley — the Missisquoi/Pike, Lamoille, Winooski, Otter/Lewis, Saranac/Chazy, Boquet/Ausable, and Poultney-Mettawee South Lake.
The State of New York has completed purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the final stage of its acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy. Now the classification process will begin. As with the Essex Chain acquisition the debate will be over recreational access and protection of its biological assets and its aesthetic experience as a wild place. As with the Essex Chain the debate will largely come down to roads, in this case Gulf Brook Road, a dirt and gravel road that provides access to the interior of the tract from Blue Ridge Road.
It’s obvious why arguments between wilderness protection and recreational access so often come down to roads, but I think that’s unfortunate. I think it distracts us from the larger issues of land use and protection with which we should be more concerned. The issue of Gulf Brook Road in the Boreas classification makes a perfect example. So let’s look at it in a little more detail. » Continue Reading.
A few hundred water enthusiasts showed up last week at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for the Reel Paddling Film Festival hosted by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters. We watched two hours of the daring adventures of canoeists and kayakers battling North American rivers and the Alaskan wilderness. I learned of a way to test how to hold my double-bladed paddle to fit my upper torso and fitness level. At the raffle of donated goods by local sport shops and the NFCT organization, we won a copy of the three-hundred-page guidebook for the 740 mile paddling trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. » Continue Reading.
Last month, the state’s top tribunal, the Court of Appeals, heard arguments in a legal dispute over the public’s right to paddle a two-mile stretch of water near Lake Lila. It is sometimes referred to as the Mud Pond Waterway.
I paddled the waterway in 2009 and was sued for trespass the following year. A state Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2013. The Appellate Division upheld the ruling in 2015, but the landowners appealed a second time.
Given that a ruling in the Court of Appeals could have statewide ramifications, there is a fair amount of interest in the case. Several reporters and photographers attended the oral arguments, and a number of newspapers around the state and outside the state ran stories.
Some news stories said the appellants — the Brandreth Park Association and the Friends of Thayer Lake — have owned the property since the mid-1800s. This is understandable, as a summary of the case on the Court of Appeals website stated that the land in question has been in the hands of the Brandreth family “since an ancestor bought it from the State in 1851.” » Continue Reading.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Adirondack Lakes and Trails are co-hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival tonight, April 8, at 7 pm at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. The award-winning films tell stories about canoeing, kayaking, and the privilege of having wild places to paddle.
Film themes include kayaking the Aleutians and a multi-sport adventure on Baffin Island. One of the feature films, Paddle for the North, tells the story of a six-man expedition team and their 1,500-kilometer journey through the Yukon and Peel river watersheds. » Continue Reading.
The state’s highest court will hear arguments in Albany this Thursday in a trespassing lawsuit filed against Explorer Editor Phil Brown after he canoed through private land near the William C. Whitney Wilderness.
Several organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, which could have statewide ramifications.
The Adirondack Mountain Club and Environmental Advocates are siding with Brown in arguing for paddler’s rights. The Adirondack Landowners Association, New York Farm Bureau, Empire State Forest Products Association, and Property Rights Foundation of America are siding with the landowners. » Continue Reading.
A new store that caters to outdoor sports enthusiasts has opened in Wanakena, a tiny hamlet near Cranberry Lake with a population of less than 100.
The Trading Post at the Pine Cone Grill opened this winter to fill the gap created by the closing of the Wanakena General Store, which sold groceries and basic outdoor supplies.
Rick Kovacs, who owned the Wanakena General Store, shut down in October saying he couldn’t make enough money in the winter months. He had owned the store for about six years, and said one had been at that location for about 60 years. » Continue Reading.
In 1920, Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post Cereal Corporation, purchased a narrow sand and gravel ridge, an esker, on Upper St. Regis Lake. Throughout the 20s she built a rustic retreat in the Great Camp style with 68 buildings, including two boathouses on the lake; separate cabins for kitchens, bedrooms and baths, and living rooms; and two buildings for cooks, maids, caretakers, and guides.
For years the camp was accessible only by boat or float plane. Transporting supplies and people the 2.5 miles across the lake from the nearest road was challenging, necessitating the use of boats of varying speed and power, sometimes human. A funicular, a cable railway, provided access to the top of the ridge from the water. » Continue Reading.
For five years, a group of Adirondack landowners has engaged in a legal battle with the editor of the Adirondack Explorer and the state Department of Environmental Conservation over navigational rights on a remote waterway in the William C. Whitney Wilderness. Now both sides have reinforcements.
In December, lawyers representing environmental, recreational, and property-rights groups were preparing to file friend-of-the-court briefs (also known as amicus curiae briefs) in the case. Because the dispute has reached the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal, the outcome could have widespread consequences for landowners and paddlers. » Continue Reading.
Two Adirondack groups have announced that they will file a lawsuit Monday challenging the State’s approval of a new management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes in the heart of the Adirondack Park
The suit claims that the plan violates state law by allowing motorized and mechanized recreational uses in remote, wild areas that the law declares shall be off limits to such activity.
The lawsuit is being filed in state court in Albany by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks. The two groups are represented by Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm. » Continue Reading.
Why do they call it Boreas Ponds? After all, if you look at an aerial photograph, such as the one at left, taken by Carl Heilman II, it’s just one water body. This fact is also evident from the 1999 USGS map below.
The reason is not mysterious. Like many Adirondack lakes, the water level of Boreas Ponds has been raised by a dam. As an 1895 map indicates (it’s shown farther below), Boreas Ponds used to be three ponds connected by narrow channels.
When the state acquires Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, it must decide whether the concrete dam should be retained.
Although I’ve been working in Albany with the Adirondack Mountain Club over the past two years, the Adirondack Park is relatively new to me. It’s not new to my family. I am beginning to discover a long familial history with the Adirondacks.
My father recently found an old photo album documenting trips from Philadelphia in 1900 and 1903 when my great-grandmother visited Schroon Lake and hiked Pharaoh Mountain with her family. They traveled to NYC and then made their way north on the Hudson by riverboat.
This summer I traveled back to the area my family visited 115 years ago. I walked to the shore of Schroon Lake for the first time and paddled Lost and Berrymill Ponds in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
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