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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ausable paddlers in hot water

Whitewater enthusiasts now have the right to paddle through Ausable Chasm, but they better be sure to obey the letter of the law.

220px-Ausable

Ausable Chasm.

Ausable Chasm Co. called the state police on Friday—the first day the run was open—to complain that kayakers were trespassing.

State Police Captain Brent Gillam said troopers filed criminal summonses against three paddlers, but the decision on whether to bring charges is in the hands of the town court.

One of the paddlers said on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board that he and two companions had entered private land after encountering a rope on the river.

“We were used to ropes meaning some type of warning down river,” the kayaker said. “We ventured onto private land. We asked the first staff member we saw, and went back. We were stopped by a cop when we were back in the water. After discussion and some waiting we were given violations.”

American Whitewater (AW) is trying to find an attorney to fight the tickets.

AW and Ausable Chasm Co., which runs a tourist facility at the gorge, offer different interpretations of the paddlers’ actions.

Kevin Colburn, AW’s national stewardship director, said they were confused by the rope and walked up an access road to scout the river.

But Tim Bresett, Ausable Chasm’s general manager, contends the paddlers were taking a short cut across the company’s land. “They were a half-mile from the river,” he said. “They were not scouting.”

Bresett said another paddler was ticketed Saturday for stepping out of his kayak to take photos, but Captain Gillam again said troopers only filed a criminal summons with the local court. Gillam said officers cannot charge somone on the spot with a violation (a low-level crime) unless they witnessed the incident.

Colburn suggested that the company is trying to intimidate paddlers from using the river. He said employees were yelling at kayakers who paddled down the river Friday and over the weekend.

“They don’t like the public floating through their river,” he said.

Bresett, however, said the company acknowledges that the public has the right to paddle through the chasm and scout rapids. “It’s not our position to play hardball with these guys,” he said, “but you got to play by the rules.”

After years of negotiation with New York State Electric and Gas, Ausable Chasm, and American Whitewater, the federal government ordered this stretch of river open to the public. Paddlers put in near the power plant at Rainbow Falls, negotiate heavy whitewater (up to Class 5), continue through milder rapids and flatwater, and take out at a bridge on Route 9.

Bresett said many of the kayakers who ventured down the chasm on Friday and over the weekend were “unskilled and unprepared.”

“I guarantee somebody will die on the river this year,” Bresett said.

Under the federal agreement, the river will be open each year from Memorial Day weekend until October 31.

Phil Brown

Phil Brown has been editing the Adirondack Explorer since 1999. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important. You can follow his adventures and his musings on the Adirondacks in the Explorer and on this blog.

44 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Phil, Why do they need a “Federal Agreement” to travel the river?

    Does that have something to do with a public put-in?

  2. Phil says:

    Paul, I am not familiar with the whole story. Here’s what I believe: the put-in is on the power company’s private land, and as a condition for power-plant relicensing, the feds required the company to provide access to the river. You can find our more on American Whitewater’s website.

  3. Mark Zakutansky says:

    I disagree vehemently with Tim’s assertion that paddlers were “unskilled and unprepared”. In the normal course of navigating class IV-V whitewater, scouting and setting safety is an integral part of the paddling experience. I was on the river on 6/19 and in my opinion, no paddlers that day lacked the skills to safely navigate the river under fair and appropriate conditions. The river conditions were made unreasonably hazardous when Tim harassed and intimidated paddlers and prevented access to areas of the river necessary for proper scouting and setting safety. Tim is correct that someone will get injured or killed in the chasm, but blame for that incident should sit with the Chasm Company for establishing unsafe conditions by preventing legal and reasonable access for scouting and setting safety. Most notably, scouting and setting safety was specifically not allowed from the prominent mid-stream rock in Elephant Rock rapid. This location is completely within the stream bed and at certain flows is the best place to scout and set safety for this rapid.

  4. Phil says:

    I made a change to my original post. State Police said no charges have been issued against the paddlers. Rather, criminal summonses were filed with the town court. It’s now up to the court whether charges are brought.

  5. Scott says:

    Phil,

    I can confirm my friend was confronted by the state police and issued a ticket for taking photographs from the side of the river.

    Also the three issued tickets for leaving the river early never claimed to be scouting, they simply mis-interpreted the rope strung across the river as a warning (notice how most dams have ropes strung across the river as warning well upstream) and took out at what happened to be a private road.

    Finally I would like to say if Bresett wasn’t looking to “play hardball” his company could have easily taken an alternative approach to calling the police and issuing threats. Boaters would be more than happy to “play by the rules” given the rules were well established before and known by the kayakers. Making an example of boaters has only created hostility and tension between the two parties.

    I have plenty more information on the incidents that took place in the chasm but will leave it at just that for now.

    Thanks so much for posting about this, it is great that this story is getting out in the open.

  6. Phil says:

    Scott, we would like to hear more details if you can provide them.

  7. Mark Dragoon says:

    I’m a bit confused here. If someone wants to scout on land owned by a public attraction the simplest and fairest way is to simply pay the price of admission to the attraction and then walk the privately owned and held property. If I use something that does not belong to me the decent thing to do is to compensate the owner for usage. If I use your resources I compensate you for it. What is it that makes it so hard for you folks to understand that Ausable Chasm is Privately Held? If your life means anything to you then the price of admission should not be too much to exchange for a safe ride down the river. As for the ownership and right of way in New York State to privately held lands we usually refer to the posted signs on the property lines as an indication that the owner wishes to have exclusive access to the lands they own. Sort of like keeping me out of your property uninvited.

  8. mike says:

    These kind of stories really disturb me . It is getting to be where you have to be afraid to do any thing any more . If is seen the rope I would probably have done the same thing. If the next section they scouted was above there limits then as good people don’t you think the land owner would be kind enough to let them scout it out or take out. So they are safe. It really burns me that some one would go as far as calling the police.The old mighty savors. And yes some one might get hurt or killed on the river, but thats the chance you take and that should be there problem. Seems like there is a lot of resentment here. I hope both sides can talk this out like adults.

  9. tourpro says:

    Thanks for posting this, very interesting turn of events.

    I like Tim, but on this I have to disagree.

    Do the kayakers interfere with their for-a-fee boat rides? Do the kayakers add to the company’s liability? Do the kayakers enhance or detract from their visitor’s experience?

    What if people were more inclined to pay for admission if they could watch whitewater enthusiasts?

  10. Paul says:

    Scott, Is the guy who says they were a half mile from the river incorrect? I don’t understand that part of the story? If they are that far from the river how could they be “scouting”?

  11. Paul says:

    Also, I think that technically speaking shooting photos from the “easement” in the boat is legal. Taking photos from the shore might actually be illegal if a stop at that spot was unnecessary?

  12. Steve says:

    @paul Nobody has said the 3 boaters were scouting. They reported that a rope strung across the river led them to believe there was some problem downstream and that they should not continue.

    As for the person taking pictures, it’s entirely possible to be there for safety and still take pictures. Not every paddler would have required the same level of shore-based safety, but any person providing that safety would be entitled to be there before the first person needed it, and to remain until the last one had passed the spot(s) requiring protection. Even for those who do require safety, it’s entirely possible o watch somebody while taking pictures. One thing the two share in common is paying attention to where the subject is an what they’re doing. In many cases you can see problems start well before you’ll be able to start offering assistance, and throwing a rope too soon can be far worse than not throwing a rope at all. There’s also the matter of whee he was actually standing. If he was below the high water mark he was standing on part of the riverbed that’s owned by the state, which is obviously perfectly legal.

    @ MArk D It’s simple. When a river is owned by the state the people have a complete legal right to navigation. That right includes access to private property when that access is incidental to the navigation and is necessary to conduct that navigation safely. Basically, the property was acquired with an easement for such access, whether the owner understood that or not. Maybe you’d ask for an admission fee if somebody stepped on your lawn while other people came the other way on a public sidewalk, but most people understand that their right to exclude people from otherwise private property does have some minor and reasonable limitations. If the owner doesn’t like the access that comes with the easement, they’re free to relocate to a piece of property that has no similar easement.

  13. Paul says:

    Steve,

    Thanks, so they were not a half mile from the river as someone had claimed?

    The river bed is not owned by the state. Isn’t this private property? The bed and the river are owned by whomever the property is deeded to. If this is a “navigable in fact” river then the public has the right to excersise a common law right to navigate through. But that does not mean that the state OWNS the river bed in any way shape or form.

  14. Paul says:

    Also,

    “That right includes access to private property when that access is incidental to the navigation and is necessary to conduct that navigation safely.”

    This is absolutely correct. But Steve, if anyone was a distance from the river perhaps looking for the owner to inquire about the rope he or she was trespassing plain and simple. I don’t think you will find a judge that will view that activity to be “incidental” to navigation. The trespass was not required to find out about the rope. Whether the river was safe to navigate is the responsibility of the paddler, not the owner.

  15. Steve says:

    Paul,

    Assuming the river is navigable, and I think it clearly is, the state does indeed own the riverbed and the banks, up to the high water mark. That’s been well established by the US Supreme Court, and the general manager of the Ausable Chasm Company has acknowledged that he’s aware of the court’s opinions. The easement applies to the allowable access over the private property that adjoins the publicly owed bed and banks.

    Much the same way that pedestrian rights were somewhat forgotten as we began to rely on cars, navigational rights were somewhat ignored for a long time as old methods of trade shifted to other means of transport. I don’t doubt that a great deal of the current confusion is due to how things have been done as things have changed. It’s been a while since it was a regular sight to see logs being floated down the river, or a fur trader bringing goods to market in a bateau or canoe. At the same time, it’s only in the recent past that improved design of whitewater boats has made paddling class 4 rivers something that can be done fairly easily by paddlers of more average skill. For many years very few people were exercising their right to navigate publicly owned rivers, and that has contributed to a mistaken belief that the rivers aren’t public.

    As for the 3 paddlers, that may be a legitimate question for the court to rule on. The question won’t be how far they were from the river (I’ll assume they were 1/2 mile into the woods or up the road) or if the land was private, but rather why they were there. Trespassing requires knowingly entering private property or remaining after one is told to leave. If there were no signs in that area they may not have known what the ownership was, and they have said that when they were informed they left willingly. That they thought there was a problem with continuing down the river is also an important point. The right to exclude people from your property doesn’t include the right to keep people from accessing the property if there is some emergency that makes it reasonable to do so. If they honestly believed that there was some reason that they shouldn’t continue down the river the question for the court should be whether it was reasonable to leave by crossing the property, even if they knew it to be private, or if they should have waited at the river to find out if they could continue.

  16. Paul says:

    Steve,

    Sorry you are absolutely wrong, and the bed and banks of the river are private property. If you need more you should look carefully at this brochure that was put out by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks that defines navigation rights.

    http://www.protectadks.org/data/images/stories/pdf_documents/public_navigation_rights.pdf

    I will point you to one section:

    “Legally, the courts have said that the State of New York, in accordance with public trust doctrine, holds an easement on such waterways in trust for the people of the state, making them public highways for navigational purposes. THE PRIVATELY-OWNED BED AND BANKS OF SUCH WATERWAYS are subject to this easement or servitude when used for purposes of navigation.”

    I will also note that I think there are some things in this brochure that may be misleading.

    That the bed is owned by the state is a common misconception that is often floated (no pun intended) around these discussions regarding navigation rights. An easement is not ownership. I am not an expert, but I think the bed and banks are in private hands.

    The other misconception that you see is that a river even though it is “navigable” may not be “navigable-in-fact” as defined by the common law that “creates” the easement that allows navigation to take place on that particular water body. Phil, has written extensively on the subject here at the Explorer and other places. Some will argue that if a river is “navigable” it is NIF. That is a point on which the courts have yet to rule on for even a single waterway in the state.

    As for trespass, we will just have to see what the court says. I think it may be safe to say that these paddlers “knowingly entered private land”. If they felt there was some danger in continuing down river they should have proceeded to go back upriver, even if that meant walking on the bank. To cut cross-lots for some reason I think goes outside the navigation rights that they were exercising. But if they can prove that they did not know it was private, I am not familiar with where they were, they could be fine. But if they were looking for “staff” then I think it is safe to say they knew they were on private land and should maybe not have gone where they did.

  17. Phil Brown says:

    Many years ago, I did a story for the Albany Times Union on the ownership of riverbeds. As I recall, the ownership varies. Sometimes the state is the owner, but in many cases, perhaps most, the bed is in the hands of private landowners. I think it’s a moot point as the public has the right to step on the riverbed and the banks regardless of who owns the land if the river is NIF and if they need to exit the boat for a legitimate purpose, such as scouting or portaging.

  18. Scott B says:

    I have looked at the sign the leads into the NYSEG’s property and it does state that land on both sides of the river are private property and strictly prohibited. It shows a map of were the paddler’s have to take out and it explains the type of rapids that a paddler will face while going downstream.

    I have also read the brochure at http://www.protectadks.org/data/images/stories/pdf_documents/public_navigation_rights.pdf where it explains when it is legal to be on the private land.

    Here is an excerpt: “use of private river beds or banks that is not strictly incidental to the right to navigate gives rise to an action for trespass.”

    It also states “waterway travelers have no right to beach their vessel or to walk on or enter upon private land in any way,including the banks and bed of the stream.”

    And another part that fits the issues here, “Camping, picnicking, hiking or engaging in other activities on private land which are not essential to and directly related to navigation, constitute trespassing unless done with the permission of the owner.”

    I have seen photos of the paddlers on the bed and taking video and photos. They do not appear to be essential for navigation purposes.

    As for scouting the river, the NYSEG sign states that if you wish to scout the river you should go to the Ausable Chasm Company and view the river from their property (for a fee).

    The signs make it clear enough that all land around the river is private.

  19. Phil Brown says:

    Scott, it’s true that you can’t walk around on private property for no good reason. However, the law is clear that paddlers have the right to walk along riverbanks to portage and scout.

  20. Roy says:

    “Steve” is right. Complete and unfettered access to the entire length of the gorge for the purpose of scouting is available with an admission ticket to the Chasm. I can’t think of a better way to see in advance what you’re getting into!

    This isn’t the upper Hudson with gently sloping banks on each side of the river. It’s a GORGE with vertical cliff faces dozens of feet high, and those cliff faces and surrounding property have been private property for over 100 years. The area is DANGEROUS. Not the water, the LAND. I am sure they have to protect themselves from liability in this overly-litigious society. Can’t you see it? “I got out of my boat and slipped and fell on your rocks and broke my leg. Pay me.”

    Or does any of this legislation prevent people scouting and portaging or otherwise making legitimate use of private property from suing the owner of the land on which they are injured?

  21. Rick says:

    By the letter of the law, kayakers currently have the right to navigate this section of the Ausable. However do they have the right to jeopardize peoples jobs and the regions economy? Someone dying or getting seriously injured (God forbid) stands a good chance of shutting Ausable Chasm down for good, putting many people out of work and seriously hurting uncounted business who supply the Chasm, or also profit from the 100,000 plus people who travel to see it every year.

    If these kayakers want to risk their lives that’s fine with me, just don’t do it somewhere where you are risking my livelyhood.

  22. Scott B says:

    Phil:

    You are correct with what the laws states and I agree that if the terrain is deemed unsafe by the paddler either because of lack of experience or the terrain itself then by all means go around it. But, the definition of portage is to CARRY. When dealing with boats the definition is: “the carrying of boats, goods, etc., overland from one navigable water to another.” Now the photo that I have seen includes 11 boats and 3 people. If they are portaging aren’t they supposed to be carrying the boats? If I understand the law correctly the paddlers are to “carry” their boats around the section they need to and then get right back in their boats and continue especially if it is private property.

  23. Concerned Resident says:

    Tourpro…You bring up some great questions. Questions, I, myself was asking until recently when I saw it first hand.

    1- Yes, the paddlers interfere with the rafting and tubing operations of Ausable Chasm. They travel the whole length of the Chasm…including where visitors take raft and tube trips. Keep in mind these rafts and tubes are inflatable…not hard kayaks that could possibly run into one of these guests! I know that I wouldn’t let my kids go on the tubes now, knowing they would have to watch out for these kayakers. I already saw one guy lose control and hit a rock, denting his kayak.

    2-Yes, the kayakers add to the company’s liability because it increases the risk of a guest getting hurt during their visit.

    3- Ausable Chasm does great business for the region. They have been on top of their game and leading the tourism industry for NY…even when other venues, even in Lake George were going under in recent years.

    I highly doubt that people will be “more” inclined to pay admission for a park they’re already planning on visiting. They are there to see the natural beauty of the place…not 25 kayaks piled up in front of the iconic Elephant’s Head…with guys and gals scaling the rocks!

    Sorry…I completely disagree.

    People need to keep in mind that Ausable Chasm is a tourist destination and should be treated as such.

    Why after 140 years are we allowing “the public–white water enthusiasts” to have free run of the place? Just this past weekend alone, I saw careless activity and no respect for the property.

    Yes, Ausable Chasm is a business…but it’s a business that is doing the local economy a favor by keeping people employed…not only their immediate employees, but the community as well. They buy everything local…from concession stand items to handmade wooden flagpoles by local artisans.

    Plus this “business” has for 140 years PROTECTED the natural beauty of the oldest natural attraction in the NorthEast.

    On top of everything…people are not thinking about the “unexperienced” paddlers that will want to try this “adventure” for themselves. No one is checking qualifications at the gate here!

    A single catastrophe from either an experienced or unexperienced paddler would cause rescue personell to close down the chasm’s operation …and because Ausable Chasm is a seasonal business, relying on day to day funds, could result in permanent closure of Ausable Chasm.

    I encourage everyone to fight this very small population that is once again out to make a big statement for all of us. I can say for certainty that there is strength in numbers and we shouldn’t let these few “out of towners” ruin our community.

  24. Phil Brown says:

    Scott B: A portage is not necessarily from one waterway to another. It can be around an obstacle or an unrunnable rapid or drop. You are correct that a paddler should not linger on private land while carrying.

  25. Jason says:

    I do see the big problem. If I was the AuSable Chasm I would be marketing it anyway that I could. Think more positive Tim and less like you lost the fight. Everyone has a right to use the river now it’s time to market it and make some money. And if they trespass you do what you have to do according to the law. They should respect it just as you have to except that they now have a right to the river.

    One last thing is you have to be the professional business person that you are and same goes to your staff on the river. Bad business is bad business. Make something good out of this I sure there is away.

  26. tourpro says:

    @Concerned

    Thanks for the response.

    I hear your “concern” for the “guests”, but any business that operates on publically-accessable land/water need to realize that sharing may be an issue.

    What if a kayaker was interfered with by an negligent or poorly-qualified inner-tubist?

  27. Kevin says:

    I agree that certain waterways absolutely should be open to public navigation. Many good arguments have already been voiced here. I am going to expound on just two.

    First, as has been stated, but not much response from the pro navigation crowd… if safety is a concern, AND it should be, then pay the entry fee and go have a look for yourself from the trails that have been established just for the purpose of looking at this gorge, which by the way took many man hours of labor and all the costs involved to create. It is not like a remote location where this would not be a good scenario.

    Second, I live in the area and I pay taxes here. If you decide to take the trip down through the Chasm and it becomes an unfortunate day for you, who do you think is coming to your rescue or recovery? It will be local people trained in water rescue and recovery. It will also be their lives put at risk for you. Again, who will bear the costs of such an operation. I am one of those cost bearers. Not to add insult to injury, when the authorities are called and respond to an incident (actually, yes, even a trespass), then they are away from their primary job area. This is whether or not they are volunteers or paid professionals, and those of you that have created this “diversion from normal routine”, should bear the brunt of monitary damages. These damages in the case of Ausable Chasm Company would be great indeed if it was a recovery operation, as it would shut the business down, maybe for days. There should be an addendeum to the regulations covering water use through private property which states “any expense that is incurred by legal or illegal activity by use of this waterway, requiring rescue personel, and / or which also creates an expense or loss of revenue to business(s) associated with said activity, shall be borne by the individual(s) involved. To cut this short I just should have said, “He who wants to play, should pay”.

  28. Keith says:

    In my opinion I think it is absurd that just because someone owns property on two sides of a navigable river they think that gives them the right to prohibit people from using it as a public right of way. What if I owned a very narrow strip of land – just a couple feet wide – that crossed the Ausable, would that give me the right to say no one can paddle through? Of course not. So how much shoreline would I need to own before the river itself becomes “mine”? Where would you draw the line? If ten miles would give me that right of ownership, why not 10 feet…

    For the most part, I think people have accepted the rights of paddlers on the Ausable, but there are still several rivers in the Adks in contention. As far as the business of Ausable Chasm being jeopardized by public traffic, that may be unfortunate, but that isn’t enough reason to prevent the public from using the river. What about lake-front resorts or camps? Would you prohibit paddlers from using the lake within a certain distance of the shore for the sake of these private businesses?

    I live in Vermont and everywhere I paddle is through private land, much of it farm land. It’s not an issue here at all. Why should anyone care? I’m just floating down a stream for Pete’s sake.

  29. Jason says:

    I agree with Keith!!!! As a paddler for NY and I travel all around the US this is a first in ways. The AuSable Chasm needs to understand that they do not own the river they may own the land but again not the river. And I think Tim Bressette the GM there thinks that scare tactics are the way to go. In my eyes that’s just bad business as I said before in my eyes market, market, market you will win in the end.

    On a good note: So far it’s been a full week of paddling in the AuSable and no deaths to report.

    Be safe out there and have fun.

  30. Jonzie says:

    “I live in the area and I pay taxes here. If you decide to take the trip down through the Chasm and it becomes an unfortunate day for you, who do you think is coming to your rescue or recovery? It will be local people trained in water rescue and recovery. It will also be their lives put at risk for you. Again, who will bear the costs of such an operation?

    I live in a big city and pay taxes. If a country bumpkin comes to town and goes in a bad area and gets hurt, who do you think is coming to rescue you? It will be the local police, supported by my taxes. With your reasoning, you’ll need to stay home as its my city and I don’t want to have to pay for your mistake.

  31. Ray Bell says:

    Gentlemen,

    I hate to say it, but I am not a paddler. My honest opinion is you guys just want a congfrontation to settle the matter once and for all and I am not sure I blame you.

    As far as I am concerned if it doesn’t affect my putting, and not much could, it isn’t important. There are thousands of miles to paddle, so go go some place where the water is calm, the sun is setting and you can take nice pictures, catch fish, and lisen to the water as it ripples over the rocks.

    Otherwise continue ranting and raving and being unhappy campers.

    Ray Bell

    Delmar, NY

    Forgot, I was a hiker when I used to be able to walk.

  32. Paul says:

    Phil and others,

    I think that this discussion shows that we need a court to finally weigh in on this, or any other river, and tell us more about what “navigable in fact” means.

    That will finally start to settle the argument. “Navigable” is not “navigable in fact”, at least not today.

    If a court tells us tomorrow that the two are one in the same then the discussion will be closer to being settled.

    Folks here can continue to claim that these two concepts are one in the same, and folks will continue to paddle into “hot water”.

    Finally, going back a ways. Phil the “ownership” verses “easement” issue is not a moot point. Ownership conveys all the rights of the property without any restrictions. An easement is a very different thing. It only conveys certain rights. What those “rights” are is the core of this issue.

  33. NY Paddler says:

    Groundhog Day 2010.

    I thought this issue was addressed by the NY courts in the 1980s & beyond, landmark case THE ADIRONDACK LEAGUE CLUB, INC., APPELLANT, v. SIERRA CLUB, ET AL., RESPONDENTS. AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK ET AL., INTERVENORS-RESPONDENTS.

    92 N.Y.2d 591, 706 N.E.2d 1192, 684 N.Y.S.2d 168 (1998).

    December 17, 1998

    link: http://www.law.cornell.edu/nyctap/I98_0162.htm

    Illegal postings of rivers by business interests – denial of common law riparian rights – are nothing new. It’s old hat for business interests to, in effect, privatize public employees – law enforcement and forest rangers – to get them to do their bidding, in this case banning recreational access to the water surface by enforcing their illegal postings.

    What Adirondack League Club v. Sierra Club did was to recognize recreational paddling – not log driving – as the test of navigability and hence, common law rights – riparian right of passage.

    What’s new is the ability of the public to safely navigate these rivers given the improvements in technique and equipment. Citizens own reasonable access to navigable waters.

    If public employees are being used to enforce postings that were adjudicated illegal in the last century, perhaps these corporations need to reimburse the public for the salaries and benefits they co-opted for their benefit, then cut the ropes across our rivers blocking the public’s rightful passage. This time, at their expense.

  34. Paul says:

    NY Paddler, Many folks like to quote that particular court settlement, but it has little impact on this case. Also, in that case the parties settled, and the court never ruled as to whether even that particular stretch of river (forget about all the rest) was navigable-in-fact.

    I suppose if these “public servants” arrested these paddlers for being in or close to the river you would probably have a good point. But it appears that were perhaps doing something that went beyond what is allowed by the easement.

    Also, as I understand it the DEC (Rangers as you say)specifically has a policy to NOT ticket people that are exercising what could or could not be legal. So if anyone is doing anyone’s bidding, it is not being done for the landowners in these cases.

  35. Solidago says:

    NY Paddler, name a single navigable-in-fact waterway that is posted, or even any “postings that were adjudicated illegal in the last century.”

  36. mcbee says:

    As suspected, the paddling nut-cases are arguing that any trespass is ‘scouting’ or ‘portaging’. So long as you are claiming to be scouting for a route to the Pacific Ocean, any trespass in NY would be legal under this argument.

    They should lock up the obnoxious paddlers for nuisance, disturbance and trespass.

    If trespass is required to run the chasm, don’t allow paddling there.

    NY state can control fishing, motor-boats and other river activities, they can also control these out-of-touch paddling idiots.

  37. Case against Ausable Chasm paddlers dropped @ says:

    […] my earlier post for more background about the controversy that erupted on the first weekend of paddling. Kayaking, […]

  38. WWMatt says:

    Concerned Resident,

    I paddled Ausable Chasm a few weekends ago.

    We encountered the tubers who were clients of ACC. ACC customers always put in well below the difficult rapids and float through a mostly-flatwater section, with some small waves–exciting and fun for the tubers, but completely easy for whitewater kayakers to navigate. The bottom line: there was zero risk that some out-of-control hardboater would spear the tube and injure somebody.

    The tubers were having a great time and were very pleasant to us. We were also having a great time and were friendly toward the tubers. Everybody won.

    One more point: when we put in on the NYSEG property, we noticed people on the bridge, 150′ or more above the river. We took our time, exploring the (unique and beautiful) area, before continuing downstream. It was clear to us that the people on the bridge waited for us, because they wanted to see us running the rapids. The bottom line there is that, in fact, seeing paddlers run the rapids in Ausable Chasm enhances the experience for some people, and it stands to reason that our presence does indeed provide an added attraction for ACC to market to its potential customers.

  39. WWMatt says:

    Kevin,

    Whitewater paddlers are very safety-conscious. We wear PFDs and helmets, and routinely carry throw ropes for safety.

    We believe in self-reliance, and we believe in rescuing our own when an accident occurs. WW paddlers have also rescued members of the public who’d gotten themselves into a dangerous situation on the water.

    We believe in personal responsibility and practice it on the river. Please don’t use your concern for our safety and your tax dollars to try to deny us our rights as citizens of the United States, Land of the Free.

  40. WWMatt says:

    One more point: when the year ends, and no paddlers’ deaths will have occurred, Bresett’s hysterical prediction will be shown for what it is–and his lack of credibility will be exposed for all to see.

  41. jessica says:

    awesome! thanks!

  42. Sylvia Awtry says:

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  43. great site. thanks for the info

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