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Phil Brown, <em>Adirondack Explorer</em> managing editor
Phil Brown, Adirondack Explorer managing editor

Adirondack landowner sues prominent Park journalist

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One of the North Country's largest landowners is suing a prominent journalist after he allegedly trespassed on their private property.

Phil Brown, editor of the Adirondack Explorer, paddled a section of Shingle Shanty Brook near Tupper Lake last May and wrote a series of articles about the trip.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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Dennis Phillips, the attorney who represents the Brandreth Park Association, says Brown broke the law and he says this suit could clarify state navigation rules.

“The issue is whether the private land owned by the Brandreth family going back to 1851 is land that is exclusively private," Phillips said.

"Or whether there is a public easement over the water course that runs across the northeast part of that property.”

Brown paddled the backcountry route to research a story on the debate over paddling rights and navigation law on New York rivers. 

He says he remains convinced that Shingle Shanty Brook is open to public access.

“I’ve talked to many experts about this, lawyers and others," Brown said.

"I felt confident that the law was on our side and that’s why I made the trip.  I wouldn’t have intentionally trespassed.”

Earlier this fall, New York state appeared to side with Brown, issuing a letter to the landowners demanding that they remove barrier cables and posted signs from the river.

Brandreth family attorney Dennis Phillips says it’s possible the state Department of Environmental Conservation will intervene again in this case on the side of the Adirondack Explorer.

“DEC indicated that it would refer the matter to the Attorney General and that means that it would be referred I’m sure for some kind of possible legal action," he noted.

The suit was filed against Brown as an individual.  But Tom Woodman, publisher of the Adirondack Explorer, says the magazine will respond to the suit.

“Our hope is to be able to defend it and take it through to trial," he said.

The Brandreth family isn’t for punitive damages in the case, but they do hope a judge will force Brown to pay their legal expenses.

This case is only the latest in a series of court battles over legal access rights to rivers and streams in the Adirondacks.

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