Last weekend marked a major success for the paddling community: federally mandated river access at the power company lands at the put in for the Ausable Chasm. Unfortunately, in a surprise move the Ausable Chasm Company, which owns the land in the river corridor, had police onsite to write trespassing tickets for several paddlers. Paddlers reported Ausable Chasm Company representatives threatening paddlers with trespassing charges if they touched the bed or banks of the river or took photographs.
While not the opinion of an attorney, a simple review of plain caselaw and communications with NY Department of Environmental Conservation staff have confirmed that paddlers have the right to scout, portage, and set safety on the bed and banks of New York's rivers. We are not aware of any prohibition on taking photos or video while engaged in these activities. It is clear that the Ausable Chasm Company is aggressively seeking to limit public enjoyment of a New York navigable river well beyond the limits of the law.
At this time we can not advise for or against paddling the Ausable River through the Ausable Chasm. We will offer additional advice in the coming days as we gain clarity on the law enforcement decisions made over the weekend.
American Whitewater is seeking legal assistance regarding this matter. If you are an attorney in the State of New York and are interested in this issue, please promptly contact firstname.lastname@example.org.