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Illinois v. Corps of Eng'rs

Citation: 12 ELR 20698
No. No. 79 C 5406, 17 ERC 2214/(N.D. Ill., 01/09/1981)

The court holds that, for purposes of the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Kankakee River in Illinois and Indiana is a navigable water throughout its entire length. Although the Corps of Engineers had found the river to be nonnavigable above mile 84 in Indiana, the court finds that the evidence of the historic use of this portion is adequate to support a contrary conclusion. It holds that a body of water historically used as a highway for commerce and travel retains its status as a navigable waterway although it no longer functions as such. Historically, the Kankakee River was an essential link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, used by explorers, trappers, and fur traders. The court rules that, under these circumstances, neither frequency nor ease of use are necessary conditions for establishing navigability.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Judith S. Goodie; Tyrone C. Fahner, Attorney General
Suite 2315, 188 W. Randolph St., Chicago IL 60601
(312) 793-2491

Bill S. Forcade
Citizens For A Better Environment
Suite 1600, 59 E. Van Buren St., Chicago IL 60605
(312) 939-1530

Counsel for Defendants
Gail C. Ginsberg, Ass't U.S. Attorney
1500 S. Everett McKinley Dirksen Bldg., 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-6400

Harry John Watson III, Deputy Attorney General
219 State House, Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 232-6201