SPRINGFIELD – A resolution urging the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to work with groups to develop laws permitting expanded use of state waterways was approved 10-0 by the House Agriculture Committee.
The resolution is sponsored by Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, who said he became aware of a shortcoming in state recreational opportunities last summer.
"I was canoeing down the North Fork (of the Vermilion River) last summer," Black said. "I'm up north by Rossville and I pass a farmer on the bank who said, 'Hey, what are you doing?'
"I said that I was just paddling down the North Fork to Lake Vermilion."
The farmer told Black that he needed his permission to use the river, even if he wasn't on his property.
"Sure enough, he was right," Black said. "Under existing state law, if I'm canoeing down a nonnavigable stream or one not designated for water activities, I'm supposed to get the permission of every landowner whose land I go by."
Black said Tuesday that he hopes the DNR is able to work with the Farm Bureau and outdoors groups "to see if we can coordinate things and maybe work something out."
Black said he sympathizes with property owners whose land is along rivers, and who sometimes have to deal with noise, litter and other problems.
"I could see where somebody might come along a riverbank and say, 'This looks like a good place for a bonfire,' and then create all kinds of problems," the Danville Republican said. "I'd just like to see if they might be able to coordinate this and make everyone happy."