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Submerged and Shore Lands Legislative Investigating Committee - RG 533 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Submerged and Shore Lands Legislative Investigating Committee - RG 533

Historical Note:

The Submerged and Shore Lands Legislative Investigating Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1909 to investigate the State of Illinois’ ownership claims to lands along the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as along other navigable waterways serving the state. This was in response to allegations of usurpation of lands along waterways by private individuals, corporations, and companies, which led to problems such as water pollution or prohibition of public access to these lands. The committee was composed of six House members named by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and four Senate members selected by the President of the Senate. It was to report the conclusions of its investigation to the Governor and General Assembly. The Attorney General was to furnish legal assistance to the committee upon request (L. 1909, p. 489). The committee was sometimes referred to as the “Chiperfield Committee” after its chairman, Representative Burnett M. Chiperfield of Canton.

Some of the committee’s recommendations upon the completion of its work in 1911, at which time it expired, included calls for the Attorney General to pursue legal action against any corporations, individuals, and other parties that encroached upon the state’s public waters and shore lands; the creation of a commercial harbor system in Chicago under the governance of a municipal corporation; and the establishment of an executive commission to supervise the usage of all public bodies of water in the state. The latter proposal was embodied in legislation that created the Rivers and Lakes Commission in 1911 (L. 1911, p. 115).

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