By: Tehri Parker, Pagosa Daily Post
October 2, 2015
The United States District Court of Colorado has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to fully disclose documents pertaining to its decision to approve a controversial land exchange on Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado. The Court ruled that the Forest Service did not search for public records, including emails and other communications between the agency’s Regional and Washington Offices and the developers. The 20-page ruling also confirmed the Forest Service failed to justify its decision to withhold thousands of pages from public scrutiny.
The court order came in response to a lawsuit filed by Denver-based conservation group Rocky Mountain Wild. That suit claimed that the Forest Service had unlawfully withheld public records and communications requested through a February 27, 2014 Freedom of Information Act request. The Court’s order gives the U.S. Forest Service until October 30, 2015 to conduct a search and to fully disclose documents pertaining to its decision.
“The Court has verified what we have been saying throughout this decision making process,” said Matt Sandler, Staff Attorney for Rocky Mountain Wild. “The Forest Service has failed to be transparent, has withheld documents, and has committed resources to approving this irresponsible development while failing to keep the public informed.”
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