LAKE PLACID - A state Supreme Court judge has found that Adirondack Explorer magazine Editor Phil Brown had the right to paddle on waterways that run through private property in northwest Hamilton County, and that the waters should be open to the public.
Brown was in court because the Brandreth Park Association and Friends of Thayer Lake had sued him for trespassing after he paddled on waters surrounded by their lands.
The case stems from a May 2009 canoe trip during which Brown paddled Mud Pond and Shingle Shanty Brook as part of a multi-day trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila, which is connected by a series of streams, ponds and portages. Most of the trip is in the state-owned William C. Whitney Wilderness.
The lawsuit was filed in November 2010 after Brown wrote about his experiences in the Explorer. His writings attracted other paddlers to the property and drew criticism from the landowners.
The judge ruled that Brown had the right to paddle the waters because they were "navigable in fact." The landowners have been told they must take down any "no trespassing" signs that pertain to the waters. However, they are free to post and prosecute trespassers that fish or enter other parts of their property.
Brown lives in Saranac Lake.