Letter from William Thomas 2/28/93

William Thomas
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
(202) 462-0757

February 28, 1993

Deputy Chief J. Lamar Beasley
Forest Service
P,O, Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090

REPLY TO: 1010

Dear Mr. Beasley,

Greetings and best wishes for reasoned understanding.

In your February 23, 1993 reply to my January 15th letter to Chief Robertson you express the belief that I "misunderstood any statement the Chief may have made at the August 1988 meeting about when public review of the proposed rule could occur." Please note Associate Deputy Chief Charles R. Hartgraves' letter of March 16, 1989 (enclosed), which states, "As Chief Robertson agreed in his meeting with you last fall, here is a copy of a working draft of revisions to our special uses rules."

In light of this fact it is difficult to understand how Executive Order 12291 (issued in 1981) changed since 1989 so that USFS now posits, "we are not permitted to release the proposal because to do so would impede the Administration's internal deliberations and decisionmaking," as stated in your letter.

You think "other potentially affected groups could argue the Family had an unfair opportunity to influence the development of the rule." First, it is hard to understand why you refer to "influencing" the developement of the rule. After all, it's not as if we're bidding for mineral or timber rights here; we're just talking about a regulation which -- regardless of the justification -- will have the practical effect of transforming the long established "right" of peaceable assembly on public lands into a "privilege."

Second, you "estimate that over 660,000 persons were involved in group events under permit in 1992." Isn't it clear that Rainbow Legaliaison considers a "permit system of assembly" antithetical to "freedom of assembly," and is seeking an alternative to additional permit restrictions? What "unfair opportunity?" You can't honestly think any of the people involved in group events, currently "under permit," might wish to comment that NFS' final rule should place even greater restrictions on their use of the land than whatever restrictions the present draft proposes, can you?

Finally, notwithstanding your praise for your Regulatory Officer Marian Connolly: 1) on or about January 22, 1993 I not only requested that Ms. Connolly allow a review of the draft, but, after she refused, I also "asserted that the Family could review a draft of the proposed rule prior to its approval by the Administration." In support of that assertion I cited the agency's previous cooperation in that regard (see, Hartgraves' letter), and 2) while Ms. Connolly may have "listened carefully to the views expressed," based on her failure to respond to my written inquiries, I do not agree that she has "been forthcoming in explaining ... the rationale for (y)our intended aproach." See, Summarization of USFS Vermont Rainbow Gathering Report, 1991, and cover letter to Marian Connolly.

Can you understand how it might appear that USFS is not acting in "an attitude of positive coooperation?"

Why not just give us the draft?

In service to peace through reason,

cc: Cathy Way, Old Executive Building, Rm. 218

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