Rowdy campers, beware: The state is moving ahead with legislation that would let private campground owners remove disruptive guests.
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, whose district includes Hamilton County, sponsored the bill, which passed the Senate earlier this week and is awaiting action by the Assembly.
She said the measure would give campground owners the same authority hotels and motels have when guests become disruptive.
"When guests or visitors become disruptive and a threat to other guests, it's important that when they are asked to leave, the law backs up campground owners," Little said. "This legislation provides clarity."
Currently, courts and law-enforcement agencies cite a landlord-tenant relationship when it comes to campground owners and guests.
Don Bennett, president and CEO of Campground Owners of New York, which endorsed the bill, said current law treats private campgrounds the same as mobile home parks.
"It would not allow removal because it's considered a dwelling," he said. "But a campsite is a temporary-use lodging. We've had some troubles with that: You can't kick [disruptive campers] out because it's a tenant relationship, and in camping, it's really not the case."
The bill would let campground owners kick out guests in these situations:
They aren't registered as a guest or visitor.
They've remained on the campground beyond their stay.
They've created a disturbance that impedes on another guest.
They've violated local, state or federal law.
The new law would let police charge campers with trespassing.
Bennett said the bill, if enacted into law, would "give peace officers a little bit more guidance."
He said he hopes the Assembly will act quickly on it. Long Island Assemblyman Steve Englebright is sponsoring the bill in that chamber.
"It's sorely needed in our industry," Bennett said, adding that it "levels the playing field" between private campground owners and sites run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Environmental conservation officers, forest rangers and parks police already have the authority to remove disruptive campers from state campgrounds.
Chris Morris is a reporter for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.