DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Voicing support for full and free enjoyment of Illinois’ waterways by members of the public, state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray is supporting legislation to establish a right to public access to the state’s navigable waterways.
“Recreational access to Illinois’ many natural wonders is the birthright of every resident of our beautiful state,” Stava-Murray said. “This bill reaffirms the right of every person in Illinois to use our lakes, rivers, streams, and other waterways unimpeded by arbitrary boundaries and partitions.”
Stava-Murray is sponsoring House Bill 5844, which would bring state and local policy concerning access to navigable waterways into line with state and federal law, including the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, as well as public trust doctrine, with the goal of maximizing the ability of members of the public to fully enjoy state waters. It would stipulate that no action or inaction by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would create a presumption against a given waterway being defined as navigable. Waterways would be defined as navigable unless proven otherwise in litigation by a preponderance of the evidence.
The bill has attracted sponsors from both parties.
“Right now, the process of ensuring that navigable waterways are made and kept accessible for every Illinoisan is excessively convoluted and bureaucratic,” Stava-Murray said. “This bill will create a presumption that navigable waterways are open to the public and eliminate burdensome and unfair restrictions. This will help everyone to enjoy our state, and that is something we should all be able to agree on.”
Stava-Murray’s constituent service office is reachable at 630-605-0595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.