The public right of navigation has existed in New York as a common law right since New York became a state. This right allows vessels of all kinds, including small boats and canoes, to navigate for commercial and recreational purposes on New York's waterways that are navigable-in-fact. 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. This paper describes and explains this public right.
Humbach, John A. and Morrison, Charles C.
"Public Navigation Rights in New York State: Questions and Answers,"
Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies: Vol. 12
, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalworks.union.edu/ajes/vol12/iss2/5