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New York River Access Laws Challenged.

Posted: 02/09/2011
by Kevin Colburn

New York is among the states with modern and well-defined stream access laws that recognize recreational use as proof of navigability.  Essentially, if you can paddle a river then it is legal to do so.  This solid legal premise makes New York and other states with similar laws destinations for paddlers, anglers, and other recreationists.  It also makes them attractive and healthy places to live.  With this said, people still challenge the law - seeking exclusive rights to rivers.  

Last year this conflict played out on the Ausable River, where a tourism corporation sought to discourage recreational use by pressing trespassing charges against paddlers.  American Whitewater pushed back hard on these challenges in a number of ways.  These charges were thrown out by the court system.  

Now a new challenge to public river access has emerged.  The editor of the Adirondack Explorer was recently sued by large landowners after writing about his trip along a canoe route that connects two pieces of public land in the Adirondack wilds—even though the state Department of Environmental Conservation agrees that the route is open to the public. If lost, the case could have far-reaching consequences for New York paddlers. The nonprofit newsmagazine has set up a website to raise awareness and funding around the issue, and is seeking broad public support for their plight. 

Read a recent letter to the editor advocating for intervention by the state of New York. 


Associated News