Monday, May 16, 2011

Monuments FOIA Update - Did Green Lobby Influence Treasured Lands Program in 2009?

Designated OHV Trail in Stonyford Monument

As many of you remember, HQ, BRC, Congress, and other access interests had concerns in 2010 about the now infamous leaked DOI documents regarding its “Treasured Landscapes Initiative” that proposed to designate National Monuments throughout the West.

Article on TLI and Monuments

Based on those concerns that the proposal had been cooked up behind the scenes in smoke-filled backrooms with environmental groups, Don Amador, on behalf of BRC, filed a FOIA in February 2010 to see if those concerns were valid. That initial FOIA saga was filled with FOIA denials and appeals.

2010 FOIA Saga and Shell Game

Then in June of 2010, Amador filed another FOIA to again try and ferret out any back door deals. Finally on Friday, May 13, 2011 (almost one year later), the BLM complied in part with the FOIA request. Under provisions of the “Deliberative Process Privilege of Exemption 5 of FOIA,” DOI/BLM redacted portions of the 405 pages of released documents. But, DOI withheld 2,016 pages of documents from the FOIA.

HQ has done an initial review and found that most if not all of the info was NOT relevant to the FOIA request. Our search was for evidence of where the agency had collaborated with environmental groups in 2009 while failing to include other publics and Congress in those discussions. No documents were provided that showed such enviro collaboration. Remember it was the agency’s narrative at the time that assured the public the plan was not unfairly influenced by the green lobby.

However, one email (dated 11/9/09) did reference a letter outlining thoughts from The Wilderness Society related to Salazar’s Treasured Lands Initiative.

Link to 11/9/09 Email in FOIA Response

May 2011 DOI Partial Response to BRC FOIA

Did anybody really think the agency developed this plan in a vacuum without direct input from the green lobby? Don’t be ridiculous! It looks like the FOIA shell game continues because another FOIA appeal will have to be filed seeking a copy of the referenced TWS input.

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