Paddling-rights arguments this Friday

State Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi is scheduled to hear arguments in a navigation-rights lawsuit at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the Fulton County Courthouse.

The suit was filed after I paddled through private property owned by the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association in 2009 while journeying from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. I wrote about the trip for the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. It was one of a series of articles about navigation rights. The plaintiffs accuse me of trespass.

Since I am the defendant, I don’t want to write about the case. However, the Explorer wishes to make public the memoranda of law that were filed in advance of Friday’s arguments. (There also were numerous affidavits filed in the case.) The memoranda set forth the legal arguments of the lawyers for the three parties: the New York State Attorney General’s Office, which contends that the waterway in question is open to the public; John Caffry, who is my attorney; and Dennis Phillips, who represents the plaintiffs.

Click on the links below to open PDFs of the memoranda. The documents are listed in the order they were filed.

AG motion for summary judgment

Caffry memorandum of law

Brandreths memorandum of law

AG reply memo

Caffry reply memo

Brandreths reply memo




About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Junebug says

    Phil Brown is a tresspaser and a criminal. He should be given the maximum penelty for his blatent thumbing his nose at established law. His elitest, environmental wack job group needs to have a message sent that people are sick and tired of being stepped on by their “environmental worshiping” bullies!

  2. Marco says

    Ha, ha… “environmental worshiping bullies”?

    I have visions of a tree hugger beating up on a hunter over a fishing hole, ha, ha…

    You can never pigeonhole people, Mr. Junebug.

    Like hunting, is *needed* in the ADK’s because there are no top level preditors. I am not advocating wolves, nor, mountain lions need to be released in the ADK’s.

    Navigable waters are any water that you can pass through with a canoe for any purpose(in simplest terms.)This is WHY the Hudson River is open for navigation. The distinction is in Point-to-Point travel. If a waterway connects two points (seperated by some distance of water) that are within public domain, then it is an open waterway. Shingle Shanty brook is such a waterway. Bog River is such a waterway. Many other examples.

    Private is private. (Nothing is really private, the Goverment can take it away anytime if they need it.) A pond or lake with only a single outlet crossing a public road, but totally owned privatly otherwise, has no business being paddled by a canoe. You cannot and should not go there, it’s private.

    Crossing onto private land, in any case, is trespass. Even if the waterway passes between two points, you should not leave the boundaries dictated by the normal high water mark. Line or carry the canoe through the water if you cannot paddle it in low water.

    Sanitary needs can be taken care of with a baggie or other container. DON’T polute the water with sewage. This means that along that stretch of Shingle Shanty brook, you will need something. Through paddling is NOT lingering to fish. Or lingering to crap in someones back yard. It means exactly that, you paddle through the waterway(or line or hike.) A simple sanition regulation that is excluded from the law.

    I think you might be right. He definatly is a trespasser. But, Mr Brown and the State are also right. You can pass through Shingle Shanty Brook with a canoe arriving at PUBLIC property at either end. Blocking it with cables and signs is illegal, too. This is why we have courts. To decide what is best for these “grey” areas.

    I have paddled Shingle Shanty Brook several times. I fully support the law. I do not support anyone limiting paddling rights as the group has done with cables and “private property” markers across a stream that CAN be paddled legally…this is equally illegal and a criminal act in defiance of the law. Land owners should not criminaly block “the road.”

    I have not heard what the courts have decided, BTW.


  1. PROTECT says hats off to court victory for Phil Brown and the Adirondack Explorer in major public navigation rights lawsuit | Protect the Adirondacks! says:

    […] Here’s some background information from Phil Brown. […]

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