Letter from William Thomas 4/4/94

William Thomas
2817 11th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

REPLY TO: 6270-1
April 4, 1994
Certified Mail No. P 150 697 652

Marvin C. Meier
U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region
1720 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30367

Dear Mr. Meier,

Thanks for your quick, thoughtful letter of March 18, 1994, concerning my request for a fee waiver.

At the outset, I reserve the right to present additional information beyond that contained in this appeal letter before you make your final determination of my appeal, because I am not absolutely certain that I understand the exact basis for the initial denial of my fee waiver request. This is important because the scope of judicial review is limited to the record before the agency. As the Justice Department guide to the FOIA, published in the September, 1988 edition of the Freedom of Information Case List states, "it is crucial that the agency's fee waiver denial letter create a comprehensive administrative record of all the reasons for the denial." (p. 476)

With specific reference to the fee waiver issue: I am willing to pay up to $1,000.00 dollars in request-related fees if you do not grant the fee waiver. I wish to have processing of this request begin promptly; I do not want your agency's failure to waive fees prevent my request from being deemed "received." Because of my offer to pay, you should process this request without waiting for final determination of fee waiver status.

To clarify the information provided in my letter of February 24, 1994:
1. I understand the Forest Service is considering new regulations regarding various restrictions on the use of national forests, in addition to permits for large groups of more than 25 people in National Forests. I am trying to gather information to determine what impact such large gatherings actually have on the National Forests, the Forest Service and other agencies. This information will be used to comment on the draft regulations in the hope of producing regulations which balance the harm of limitations on public access as well as determining the harm caused to the agencies and the forests by massive public access events.

We intend that the information will not only be used in drawing up these comments, but also in educating regular participants in massive public access events about any possible harm caused by such events.

2. By determining the harm caused by these events, and educating the participants in these events of those harms, the general public will benefit from knowledge which will enable more efficient utilization of those public resources.

3. It is expected that every member of the general public within the legal jurisdiction of the United States will benefit by determine precisely what harms to the national forests require law enforcement attention.

4. This is my first time obtaining documents for dissemination under a FOIA request. Although new to the public dissemination process, as the coordinator of People for Compassion (PCU), I have complied a list of 645 individuals and groups with whom PCU have maintained regular correspondence regarding the issue of impacts to national forests that are serious enough to require law enforcement resource utilization.

PCU is also an active member of the InterNet computer network, and has used that media to disseminate information on massive public events and harm to national forests to thousands of on- line users.

Because the Forest Service has only recently raised the issue of substantial harm from massive group use of national forests, neither I nor PCU yet have an extensive track record of transmitting information through established media channels. However, comments by myself and other members of PCU have begun appearing in mainline publications with greater regularity.

5. This information will not be used to generate income.

As you know, the FOIA provides that even if some requested material is properly exempted from mandatory disclosure, all segregable portions must be released. [5 USC 552(b)] Please inform me of the specific exemptions that are being claimed. If any of the requested material is released with deletions, I ask that each deletion be marked to indicate the exemption(s) being claimed to authorize each particular withholding.

In addition, I ask that your agency exercise its discretion to release information that may be technically exempt but where withholding would serve no important public interest.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


FS Regs Page | PCU Administrative Record
Rainbow in Court | Government Views | Public Views
1601 Pennsylvania Avenue