A judge has ruled the waterway winding through private land in the Adirondack Park is open for public navigation, an attorney said this afternoon.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi heard oral arguments in November in the case pitting the Brandreth Park Association and Friends of Thayer Lake against Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown.
Brown took a canoe trip between Little Tupper Lake and Lake Lila in the state's Whitney Wilderness in 2009 and, in an effort to test the state's access to navigable waters, kept floating instead of pulling his boat out of the water when he reached chains and blockages installed by adjoining property owners.
The trip and resultant article, titled "Testing the legal waters," landed Brown in court facing a civil lawsuit that drew the interest of the state Attorney General's Office.
Lawyers for the state took Brown's side and, buttressed by the Department of Environmental Conservation's determination that the waterway is navigable, argued the public has a right to travel on the waters.
Brown's attorney, John W. Caffry of Glens Falls, said Tuesday that Aulisi sided with the paddlers.
"The judge ruled quite clearly that the waterway is navigable in fact and barred the property owners from any further attempts to block the public from using it," Caffry said.