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 Oregon Mountaineering Association
131 NW 4th St. # 258; Corvallis OR 97330
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US Forest Service - FOIA Request 1

Back To - Cover Page for this Issue, Documents List

This is a copy of a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the Forest Service concerning our problems with them, probably the first of many.

Their reply is also posted.

July 14, 2003
USDA Forest Service
Stop 1143
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-1143

Re: Disclosure of the written operational plan and any documents related to its approval concerning the undercover infiltration of the Oregon Mountaineering Association which resulted in two “petty offense” citations. The Report of Investigation is numbered 01-06-U-0027. Special Agent Joseph Hironaka who was based in Corvallis, Oregon investigated the case in 2001. Forest Service Manual section 5322.2 requires such an operational plan and approval by the regional Special Agent in Charge.

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. §552, as amended) as well as the Privacy Act of 1974.

By this letter we are requesting a copy of the operating plan submitted for the undercover operation which was part of Case/File Number 01-06-U-0027. Forest Service Manual section 5322.2 specifies that an undercover operation requires an operating plan which must be approved by the regional Special Agent in Charge. We also request any documents or records related to the approval and justification of this operation.

This request is not meant to be exclusive of any other records which, though not specifically requested, would have a reasonable relationship to the subject matter of this request.

These documents will illuminate in a clear and direct way, the operations and activities of the USFS as it acts to fulfill important Congressional mandates to provide law enforcement on the nations public National Forest lands. As such, their release will significantly contribute to public understanding and oversight of the USFS's operations, particularly regarding the priorities and perceived national interests reflected by the USFS's law enforcement activities.

In order to help to determine status for purposes of determining the applicability of any fees, you should know that we are individual US citizens seeking information for personal use and not for a commercial use.

In the event that access to any of the requested records is denied, please note that the FOIA provides that if only portions of a requested file are exempted from release, the remainder must still be released. We therefore request that we be provided with all non-exempt portions which are reasonably segregable. We further request that you describe the deleted material in detail and specify the statutory basis for the denial as well as your reasons for believing that the alleged statutory justification applies in this instance. Please separately state your reasons for not invoking your discretionary powers to release the requested documents in the public interest. Such statements will be helpful in deciding whether to appeal an adverse determination, and in formulating arguments in case an appeal is taken. The USFS's written justification might also help to avoid unnecessary litigation. We of course reserve our right to appeal the withholding or deletion of any information and expect that you will list the office and address were such an appeal can be sent. We anticipate, however, that you will make the requested materials available within the statutorily prescribed period. We thus also request that you waive any applicable fees since disclosure meets the statutory standard for waiver of fees in that it is clearly "in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public," 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A). In this regard, we reiterate that we have no intention of using the information disclosed for financial gain. If for some reason, the fee waiver request is denied, while reserving our right to appeal such a decision, we are willing to pay $25.00 (twenty five dollars) to cover costs of document search and duplication.

Access to the requested records should be granted within twenty (20) working days from the date of your receipt. Failure to respond in a timely manner shall be viewed as a denial of this request and the requesters may immediately file an administrative appeal. In order to assist in a timely response we are faxing a copy of this request to the Agencies FOIA office, the Regional Forester for Region 6, and the Special Agent in Charge for Region 6. This copy sent by return receipt mail will establish the start of the 20 working day period.

Thank you in advance for your prompt reply.

Richard Thomas, FOIA Contact, Region 6, 503-808-2255
National FOIA Office, 703-605-5104
Thomas J. Lyons, Special Agent in Charge, Region 6, 360-891-5275

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