Posts Tagged ‘Paddling’

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Scenic RR Summer Events

There certainly is controversy about the Adirondack Scenic Railroad being a viable tourist attraction versus the tracks becoming an interconnecting bike path through the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

Those that believe the expense, need and usage isn’t warranted are often pitted against nostalgic train riders who want to ride the rails. For now the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is running full steam ahead for the summer season. For parents wishing for a different type of experience, perhaps this is the way to go.

I have never been sure what made my son stop in his tracks when he heard a train’s whistle. Is it a taste of magic, new destinations or a promise of adventure? For us as we board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and hear the conductor yell “Ready to button up,” it is a bit of each. With our busy lives this is one Adirondack family activity where we really do get to sit and watch clouds go by. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Programs Combating Invasives on Boats Expand

Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year thanks to a boost in funding for two water steward programs. The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College will nearly quadruple its workforce across the central Adirondacks this year while the Lake George Association is also expanding its coverage at Lake George.

With the help of a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Paul Smith’s stewards will help protect three major recreational areas: Saratoga Lake; the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake region; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Old Forge area. The Lake George Association’s Lake Steward Program on Lake George will also significantly expand over last year’s level thanks to new funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Indian Lake Restaurant & Tavern

Were it not for the fact that we couldn’t find the Bear Trap, we wouldn’t have discovered the Indian Lake Restaurant and Oak Barrel Tavern.

After driving by three times, we decided to stop, out of both curiosity and the need for directions. The handful of cars in the large parking lot didn’t inspire high hopes, but at least they were open. The entrance to the tavern is separate from the restaurant entrance, but we managed to find the correct door and were immediately and cheerfully greeted by Kristen, the bartender. A few small groups of patrons dotted the long, narrow bar; some nodding their greetings. So far so good.

The beautiful antique bar of ornate columns and mirrors immediately catches the eye and looks somewhat out of place in the otherwise ordinary-looking space. Pam asked about it and was directed to read the story, printed and framed on the wall, a few customers chiming in with additional facts. She returned to her seat and gave Kim a brief synopsis, but had to go back and read it again when Kim posed more questions. By that time, she aroused the curiosity of some of the patrons and began her usual banter. They wanted her to notice the twenty-one point mounted deer head recently added to the same wall. “Oooh, that’s a very impressive moose,” she taunted. “It’s a deer,” several of them immediately corrected. “You could pass it off as a moose to some people from the city,” Pam chided. Again, the ice was broken and they proceeded to share the story of the deer with her. We’re sure they will share the story with you when you visit.

The Oak Barrel Tavern bears evidence of several influences, evolved over many decades. The bar and shelving behind it were originally part of the historic Old Nassau Tavern in Princeton, NJ. A restoration project in downtown Princeton called for demolition of the tavern, and a contractual agreement was drawn requiring that the bar be moved 250 miles outside the New York City area. Purchased in the 1930’s, the bar was carefully dismantled and brought to Indian Lake, where it was reassembled at Farrell’s Tavern and remains today. An old photo post card we found on eBay of Farrell’s Tavern shows that little of the interior of the Indian Lake Tavern has changed since the 1940’s.

While at the North Creek Beer Fest last Saturday we met Jeff and Nina who provided us with more background on the Oak Barrel. Jeff is currently working on a book about the history of rafting in the area and told us that the Oak Barrel was “ground zero” for rafting companies and outfitters centered in Indian Lake in the 1980’s, and a favorite meeting place for post-rafting adventurers to relive their experiences “rivering on the Hudson”. A couple of framed rafting photos corroborate the rafting influence. Jeff also made mention of “whipped cream incidents” and “flashing”, though would not elaborate.

Draft beer choices were limited to LaBatt Blue, Michelob Light and Blue Moon (which they were out of at the moment). There were, however, 24 bottled choices on the menu. Because the name immediately caught her attention, Kim chose a Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale. Not a big fan of pale ale, this one was different from most. A warm copper color, creamy and somewhat thick, with an earthy, slightly sweet toffee flavor and faint citrus notes, the 46er is less bitter than other pale ales. A generous wine selection including reds, whites, sparkling and dessert, Pam was happy to find a white zin. The adjoining liquor store offers many more wine choices, which, with a $10.00 cork fee, can be purchased and consumed with dinner.

We weren’t really there to eat, but the menu deserves mention. Appetizers consist of typical bar fare, but at closer inspection, a more extensive and creative selection emerges, all very reasonably priced. Burgers and sandwiches are all priced between $6 and $8. Four pasta choices including the interesting “Absolutely Shrimp and Sausage” range from $12 to $16, along with salads, steak, seafood and chicken entrees and even meatloaf and shepherd’s pie; none over $20.

Since the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern was not our target destination, we didn’t get all our usual information, but we’re really glad we found it. The staff and patrons created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, earning a Happy Hour in the High Peaks “thumbs up”.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Mary Thill: Hudson River Rafting Travails

Hudson River Rafting Company owner Pat Cunningham pleaded not guilty in Hamilton County Court Thursday to two counts of reckless endangerment. He is scheduled to go to trial in August. Adirondack Life just posted details of the case in “Risky Business,” a story Mary reported for its May/June issue. The Almanack asked Mary Thill to bring our readers up to speed on the latest developments – ed.

The charges are connected to two trips on the Upper Hudson River last summer. But for more than a decade, guides who’ve worked for Cunningham have said that the Hudson River Rafting Company sometimes 1.) overbooks rafts 2.) sends customers in rafts piloted by unlicensed guides-in-training and 3.) launches inexperienced customers in their own boats without guides. The company’s reputation among the guiding community and in rafting towns like North Creek and Indian Lake has not been good for a while. For reasons that are explored in the article, that reputation has been held as local knowledge, until recently. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Shingle Shanty Paddling Rights Case Update

The state’s effort to intervene in the trespassing case against Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown hurts private property owners, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued early last week.

“This case is asking the court to say, basically, ‘Have canoe, will travel,’” said Dennis Phillips, the Glens Falls attorney representing the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ADK Offers Backcountry Skills Programs

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), a national leader in outdoor education for nearly 90 years, is offering a full plate of programs and workshops in 2011 to help outdoor lovers hone their backcountry skills.

ADK’s workshops are designed to help participants explore the wonders of wild lakes and waterways, high alpine ridges, rugged backcountry wilderness and pristine forests while learning skills and ethics.

Most ADK outdoor workshops are based at the club’s Heart Lake Program Center in the Adirondack High Peaks region. A sampling of some of this year’s offerings is below, but a complete listing of ADK outdoor programs and workshops is available online.

Wildflower Weekend (May 21-22) Designed for beginner wildflower enthusiasts, but a good refresher course as well. This two-day program will familiarize participants with Adirondack wildflowers. The workshop will cover identification, use of field guides, botanical structures, relationships between plants and various environmental factors. Cost is $69 for ADK members and $76 for nonmembers.

American Canoe Association Instructor Certification Workshop (June 20-23) In addition to its introductory, one-day canoeing and kayaking courses (scheduled for June 4 and 5, respectively), ADK is offering this four-day program designed for outfitters, outdoor educators and experienced paddling enthusiasts. Refine paddling mechanics, hone rescue skills and develop teaching techniques. Cost is $375 for ADK members and $415 for nonmembers.

Beginner Backpacking: High Peaks Wilderness (July 8-10) Learn the tips and tricks of backpacking and low-impact camping with a New York State Licensed Guide. Spend three days and two nights in the High Peaks Wilderness and learn about proper gear, food planning and preparation, safety considerations, map reading, camp set-up, low-impact techniques, water treatment and more. Cost is $160 for ADK members and $176 for nonmembers.

Dog Days (Aug. 8-11) This four-day exploration and discovery program is designed for kids 8-12. Each day will feature fun educational activities using the woods and waters around the Adirondak Loj. Cost is $125 for ADK members and $138 for nonmembers.

Wilderness First Aid (Oct. 22-23) This intense Wilderness Medical Associates course teaches students how to deal with medical emergencies when they are miles from help. Cost is $235 for instruction and materials. A package including meals and two nights lodging is available for $320.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of New York’s Forest Preserve. ADK is a nonprofit membership organization that helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Whitewater Derby; Recipes

North Creek’s annual Whitewater Derby is an event which deserves proper recognition – of the drink persuasion. We spent some time on “research” last week, creating the Whitewater Rushin’, and an interesting variation; its subtle maple flavor and frothy finish a tribute to spring in the northeast. It’s been some time since we were at Whitewater Derby – back when it was just a great excuse to party, camping at the ski bowl, an inch of snow on the roof of the VW bus, and no watercraft in sight. Considering our current livelihood, it was high time we returned, so we had our own private, mini pub crawl in North Creek on Saturday.

Whitewater Rushin’
1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur
1/2 oz. Amaretto
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. cream or milk
Shake with ice or use a blender

Beginning with Trapper’s at the Copperfield Inn, Pam ordered a “Snow Bunny Martini”, a delicious grape-flavored concoction that set the tone for the afternoon. We met a newcomer to North Creek, Michael, who had just begun the arduous task of tearing down an existing home and putting up a camp. Good luck with that, Michael. We couldn’t stay long; we had planned to visit five of the local pubs, including Laura’s which we have yet to review. As we headed out, under the gaze of Teddy Roosevelt’s moose, bedecked in his own derby number, Pam remarked that Trapper’s has, by far, the very best outdoor ashtray we have yet seen.

Snow Bunny Martini
3 Olives grape vodka
Whipped cream vodka
Cream

Off we went to the Barking Spider. We hadn’t been there since February and were pleased to find it quite crowded and noisy and we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar. Pam couldn’t decide which direction her next cocktail should take from the grapes of Trappers and, ironically, the bartender suggested the Grape Crush. A theme was emerging. It was even more delicious than the previous drink.

Pam went outside to see what was happening on the deck (perhaps “landing” more aptly describes it) and talked to some nice people about the Derby – the Kentucky Derby. Two kayaks paddled by on the Hudson, lending a feeling of being a part of the Whitewater Derby! That’s more than we’ve ever seen in our history of attending. Hmmm, what if OTB got involved in whitewater racing??? When it was time for the ladies on the deck to order, they advised their companions that they wanted what Pam was having. She must have had “delicious” written all over her face as she sipped her beverage because she hadn’t commented on it. Upon further reflection, perhaps it was the pint sized glass the drink came in that attracted their attention.

Grape Crush
Grape vodka
Chambord
Splash of craberry juice
Top off with Sprite

And we’re off…to do a review of Laura’s. We popped in and found it totally empty; even the bartender was missing. So we scooted out undetected, planning to stop at barVino. With the grape theme going, that would have been an obvious choice, but Pam didn’t think their grapes would complement the grapes she had already consumed. So, it was decided, one last stop at Basil & Wicks, then home.

Basil & Wick’s trail marker themed sign indicated we were on the right trail. From our parking space we could see into the dining room, where Jane, the owner, was waving us in. She even came out onto the porch to greet us, making us feel really special. Pam once said, “A good tavern is one that makes strangers feel they are in their own home town.”

Basil & Wick’s is like going home. Jane proudly showed Kim her newest museum piece – a barstool from the original Basil & Wick’s, hermetically sealed in its own plexiglass case. The bar was fairly full and we actually knew a few people, among them local music legend Hank Soto, of Stony Creek Band fame. We will actually be reviewing the Stony Creek Inn next week, celebrating its reopening on Sunday, May 15, featuring the Stony Creek Band. You know ’em, you love ’em… Hope to see some of you there!

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Update: Dealing With Flood Waters

This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains last week and this week continue to leave lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are at or above flood stage and flooding continues to occur and is expected to continue through Friday. Except for the Tug Hill Plateau, Flood Warnings continue to be in effect across the region. Roads and trails around the region have been reported closed, several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Moose, Black and Raquette Rivers, and along Lake Champlain and many other water bodies around the Adirondacks.

The NYS Department of Environmetnal Conservation has issued the following announcement about continued flooding and the environmental risks associated with flooding.

Gasoline and Oil Spills

DEC is warning homeowners and building owners with flooded basements to check for sheens or odors from gasoline, oil or substances that may have leaked from fuel oil storage tanks, furnaces or motorized equipment before pumping out water. If a sheen or odor is present, contact the DEC Spills Hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362.

If pumping is already occurring when sheens or odors are discovered, cease pumping immediately. A mixture of gasoline or oil and water can impact the surface water, ground water and soils when pumped and released into the environment. It is best to collect and remove spilled gasoline and oil while it is still contained in a basement. DEC Spills staff will work with home and building owners to determine the most effective means to address the spill.

Repairing Flood Damaged Streambanks and Lake Shorelines

Property owners who have streams or shorelines which have been eroded or otherwise damaged by flooding should check with the DEC Environmental Permits Office before undertaking repair work to determine if a permit or emergency authorization is required. Depending on the situation, work immediately necessary for the protection of life, health, general welfare, property or natural resources may be authorized under emergency authorization procedures. Projects for the purpose of shoreline restoration and erosion protection are subject to a permit application process.

DEC provides a number of documents on its website to assist in developing a shoreline stabilization project:

Stream Crossings

Stream Crossings: Guidelines and Best Management Practices


Shoreline Stabilization

Shoreline Stabilization Techniques

Applying for a Protection of Waters Permit

Sample General Site Plans for a Protection of Waters Permit

Sample General Project Plans for a Protection of Waters Permit

Locks

Both the Lower Locks, located between First Pond and Oseetah Lake and the Upper Locks, located between Lower Saranac Lake and Middle Saranac Lake, are closed to public usage until further notice. High waters and large amount of debris are still preventing the operation of the locks.

Boat Launch Sites

Most boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters not familiar with the location of the various structures on around the boat launch (ramps, walkways, docks, posts, etc.) that are now underwater risk damaging trailers and boats when launching or retrieving boats.

Water Recreation

Paddlers and boaters should continue to stay off of rivers and streams. Water levels are high and water temperatures are low, rivers and streams are running swiftly. Cold waters increase the risk of hypothermia and drowning if you should fall into the water.

Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided.

Backcountry Recreation

The previous warning to keep out of the backcountry has been rescinded. However, hikers and campers should be aware of the conditions they can expect to encounter in the backcountry. Streams are still high and extra caution should be used at stream crossings without foot bridges.

Trails are muddy and wet. Hikers should be prepared for these conditions by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails. Trails and campsites adjacent to waters may be flooded.

Blowdown may be found on trails, it is expected that large trees may have been blown over due to winds and saturated soils. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes still exists, particularly if the forecasted rain occurs.

Snow is present in elevations above 2900 feet, and snowshoes are required in elevations above 3200 feet.

The full weekly Adirondack Conditions Report will run Thursday afternoon here at the Almanack, and Friday morning on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

Photo: A snowmobile sits in flood waters on the Schroon River in Chestertown. Photo courtesy John Warren.

 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The History of the ’90-Miler’ in Rochester

A special program, “The History of the 90-Miler” will be held on May 5, 2011 in Rochester. Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will share the history of the “90-Miler” at the Midtown Athletic Club from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The fee for the program is $10 per person, and includes a cocktail reception.

The “90-Miler” or Adirondack Canoe Classic is a canoe and guideboat race that celebrates the era of human-powered boats in the Adirondacks. The race begins in Old Forge, N.Y. and proceeds up the Fulton Chain of Lakes into Raquette Lake and on to the Saranac Lakes, finishing in the Village of Saranac Lake. In its 28th year, the event is so popular that registration is capped at 250 boats.

Special guest Nancie Battaglia will share photographs of the race, including her award winning aerial photo of the 90-miler chosen as one of Sports Illustrated‘s 2009 Pictures of the Year. A renowned Lake Placid, N.Y. based photographer, Nancie Battaglia is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Adirondack Life magazine and shot the 2010 Winter Olympics in
Vancouver.

The ninety-mile water route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake forms what was known a century and a half ago as the “Great Central Valley” of the Adirondacks. It was the best route through the wilderness at the time – easier travel than roads, which were distinguished by quagmires, corduroy, steep inclines, and rocks. The key to traveling via waterway was the Adirondack guideboat. The Great Central Valley is no longer the most efficient way to get through the Adirondacks, but still has tremendous appeal to people who follow it to experience the woods and waters as the original travelers did.

The Adirondack Museum invites all those who have taken part in the 90-Miler, to come and share your own stories of adventure.

Reservations must be made directly with the Midtown Athletic Club by calling (585) 461-2300.

Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls’: Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

Photo: Paddlers in the 90-Miler by Nancie Battaglia.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inlet’s Woods ands Water Outdoor Expo

Inlet’s Woods and Waters Outdoor Expo will share information about outdoor recreational opportunities and products on Saturday and Sunday June 4th and 5th 2011. The event will be hosted by the Inlet Area Business Association (IABA) on the Arrowhead Park Lakefront.

The free public event is expected to be a multi-themed outdoor recreational event hosting booths containing products for power sports, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and fishing. Not for profit Organizations from the many fitness events, environmental organizations, and tourism councils throughout the Adirondack Park are expected to attend. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ADK to Host 15th Annual Black Fly Affair

ADK’s 15th annual gala and auction will be held from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at the Hiland Park Country Club, 195 Haviland Road, Queensbury. The Black Fly Affair is ADK’s signature event and largest fund-raiser. Recommended attire is formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

“Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” features one of the region’s largest benefit auctions – an opportunity to shop for bargains on original artwork, outdoor gear, jewelry, weekend getaways, tickets to cultural events and more. Proceeds from the event support the Adirondack Mountain Club’s conservation and outdoor education programs.

Stan Hall, president of the Cooperstown Brewing Co., is the honorary chairperson. Radio personality Gregory McKnight will be master of ceremonies. There will be food, beverages and dancing to the music of Standing Room Only. Cooperstown Brewing Co. will provide samples of its premium ales, porters and stouts.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction. Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals will conduct the auction. A preview of auction items is available online.

Tickets are $45 per person until May 13, and $55 after May 13 and at the door. For reservations, call (800) 395-8080 Ext. 25 or register online. Discounted room rates for Black Fly attendees are available at Clarion Inn & Suites, 1454 Route 9, Lake George. Hiland Park Golf Club is offering Black Fly participants a special deal on a round of golf before the event. Call (518) 793-2000 for tee times.

Corporate sponsors of Black Fly Affair are the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, TD Bank, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation and JBI Helicopter Services. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080 Ext. 42.

The Adirondack Mountain Club is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York Forest Preserve. ADK helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. More information is available at www.adk.org.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshops Offered

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering one of its very popular “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” workshops June 24 through 26, 2011, at the Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George, Warren County.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a program that offers weekend-long, outdoor skills workshops for women ages 18 or older, and is designed primarily for women with little or no experience with outdoor activities. Nearly 40 different classes will be offered at the Silver Bay workshop. These include canoeing, fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, shotgun shooting, GPS, map and compass, backpack camping, turkey hunting, day hiking, wilderness first aid, survival skills, archery, bowhunting, camp stove cooking, reading wildlife sign, muzzleloading, and fish and game cooking. Women can even earn a Hunter or Trapper Safety Education certificate.

The early registration fee ranges from $270 to $290, which includes seven meals, two nights lodging, instruction in four classes, program materials and use of equipment.

Workshop information and registration materials are available on the DEC website. Information is also available by calling DEC at 518-402-8862 or writing to “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Explorer Creates Legal Defense Fund

The Adirondack Explorer has set up a legal defense fund to raise money to fight a lawsuit filed by private landowners who claim I trespassed when I canoed through their property.

As a small nonprofit publication, we operate on a shoestring and will have to struggle to pay all the costs associated with a court case that could last two or three years. Given the principle at stake, however, it’s imperative that we not back down. We have hired Glens Falls attorney John Caffry, an expert in this field of law, to represent us.

The decision in this case could define paddlers’ rights throughout the Adirondacks and the rest of New York state. If the case reaches the state’s highest court, it may even influence judges in other parts of the country.

The Explorer and the landowners have starkly different views of the common-law right of navigation. In brief, our contention is that the public has an age-old right to paddle through private property on navigable waterways that can be legally accessed and exited. The other side contends that the common law applies only to waterways that have a history of commercial use (such as log drives).

If you’re a paddler, the implications of the landowners’ claims should give you pause. Most rivers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere in the state flow through private land at some point. If you paddle much, you probably have been on some of them. Do you know their commercial history? Should your right to paddle these rivers depend on whether or not logs were floated down them in the 1800s? What if the commercial history of a river is unknown?

Incidentally, the state Department of Environmental Conservation agrees with our interpretation of the law and has told the landowners, in writing, that the waterways in dispute are open to the public.

If you’d like to learn more about the legal arguments, click here to find copies of the landowners’ complaint and our answer. You also will find links to some of the stories we’ve published on navigation rights.

Meantime, if you care about paddlers’ rights, please consider contributing to our legal defense fund. Click here to find out how. Donations are tax-deductible.

We need your support. Please let your friends know too.

Photo: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adirondack Explorer Editor Sued in Paddling Rights Dispute

A few days ago, the Brandreth Park Association filed a lawsuit against me, alleging that I trespassed when I canoed through private land last year on my way to Lake Lila.

As part of the suit, the association is asking the New York State Supreme Court to declare that the waterways in question—Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and Shingle Shanty Brook—are not open to the public.

I did my two-day trip last May, starting at Little Tupper Lake and ending at Lake Lila, and wrote about it for the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read that story.

I believe the common-law right of navigation allows the public to paddle the three waterways even though they flow through private land. The state Department of Environmental Conservation—as well as several legal experts I consulted—support my position. In September, DEC wrote to the association’s attorney, Dennis Phillips, and asserted that the waterways are open under the common law. The department also asked the association to remove cables and no-trespassing signs meant to keep the public out. Click here to read about DEC’s decision.

But the landowners are not backing down. They served me with the complaint in the lawsuit at the Explorer office on Tuesday.

The legal papers do not mention DEC’s decision. We have reported previously that the department and the association disagree over whether a waterway must have a history of commercial use to be subject to the right of navigation. The association contends that Shingle Shanty and the other two waterways have no such history, so they are not open to the public.

The department maintains that if a waterway has the capacity for trade or travel, and if it meets other necessary criteria (such as legal access), then it is open to the public. Furthermore, DEC says recreational use can demonstrate this capacity.

If the Mud Pond-to-Shingle Shanty route is open to the public, paddlers traveling from Little Tupper to Lake Lila will be able to avoid a 0.75-mile portage. That certainly would be a boon. But the larger question is whether the public has the right to paddle waterways that connect parcels of public land, public lakes, or other legal access points. After all, how many rivers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere in the state pass through private land at times? I’m guessing a lot.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Breaking: DEC Defending Paddlers’ Rights

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways.

In a letter to the landowners, DEC asks them to remove cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras meant to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action.

Christopher Amato, DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, wrote the letter in September after negotiations with the owners failed to reach an agreement.

“The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” Amato said in the letter, dated September 24.

Amato told the Adirondack Explorer that DEC won’t take action right away. He hopes that the owners—the Brandreth Park Association and its affiliate, the Friends of Thayer Lake—will reconsider their position over the winter. Spokesmen for the owners declined to comment.

The Explorer will carry a full report in its November/December issue. The story is online now and can be read here.

The Explorer touched off the dispute last year by publishing my account of a canoe trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. Instead of portaging around private land, I paddled down the three waterways. After that article appeared, the Sierra Club asked DEC to force the landowners to remove a cable and no-trespassing signs along the route. The landowners, however, put up a second cable and installed motion-activated cameras.

DEC contends that the public has a common-law right to paddle the waterways. The owners argue that the common law applies only to water bodies that have a history of commercial use (and the three waterways in question do not).

If the landowners stick to their guns, it’s likely that the dispute will end up in the courts.

Past posts to the Almanack on this topic, both by Mary Thill and myself, have generated much discussion. It will be interesting to see what readers on both sides of the debate have to say about this latest development.

Illustrations: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook by Susan Bibeau; a map of the Lila Traverse is online.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.