The department shall, except as otherwise provided, have charge of the lands, rights
in lands, flats, shores and rights in tide waters belonging to the commonwealth, and
shall, as far as practicable, ascertain the location, extent and description of such
lands; investigate the title of the commonwealth thereto; ascertain what parts thereof
have been granted by the commonwealth; the conditions, if any, on which such grants
were made, and whether said conditions have been complied with; what portions have
been encroached or trespassed on, and the rights and remedies of the commonwealth
relative thereto; prevent further encroachments and trespasses; ascertain what portions
of such lands may be leased, sold or improved with benefit to the commonwealth and
without injury to navigation or to the rights of riparian owners; and may lease the
same. It may sell and convey, or lease, any of the islands owned by the commonwealth in
the great ponds. It may make contracts for the improvement, filling, sale, use or other disposition
of the lands at and near South Boston known as the Commonwealth flats, may lease any
portion thereof with or without improvements thereon, may regulate the taking of material
from the harbor and fix the lines thereon for filling said lands. All conveyances and contracts, and all leases for more than five years, made under
this section shall be subject to the approval of the governor and council.
In carrying out its duties under the provisions of this chapter, the department shall
act to preserve and protect the rights in tidelands of the inhabitants of the commonwealth
by ensuring that the tidelands are utilized only for water-dependent uses or otherwise
serve a proper public purpose.
The department of environmental protection shall protect the interests of the commonwealth
in areas described herein in issuing any license or permit authorized pursuant to
this chapter. The activities of the department of environmental management pursuant to this chapter
shall be subject to the licensing and permitting authority of the department of environmental
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