All public agencies are required by law to retain certain records, like internal emails, invoices, social media posts, and more. Public agencies are also required to release these upon request.
The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requires the federal government to retain records and release them when requested. So a federal records request could be called a FOIA request. Laws similar to FOIA have been passed in every state and the District of Columbia; some have the same name, but not all are called FOIA.
FOIA - The Department of the Interior or Agencies under their control: Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service- Click HERE to go to FOIA.gov and submit a request to BLM or the NPS.
The Freedom of Information Act or FOIA provides the public the right to request access to Bureau of Land Management records. The BLM will disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement, or 3 categorical exclusions (CX).
Those 9 exemptions are: 1. Classified national defense and foreign relations information. 2. Internal agency personnel rules and practices. 3. another federal law. 4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential. 5. Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters that are protected by legal privileges. 6. Personnel, medical, financial, and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. 7. Certain types of information compiled for law enforcement purposes. 8. Records that are contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of any agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions. 9. Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.
Three Exclusions CX 1: Subject of a criminal investigation or proceeding is unaware of the existence of records concerning the pending investigation or proceeding and disclosure of such records would interfere with the investigation or proceeding. CX 2: Informant records maintained by a criminal law enforcement agency and the individual's status as an informant is not known. CX 3: Existence of FBI foreign intelligence, counterintelligence or international terrorism records are classified fact.
VIEW A SAMPLE BLM FOIA REQUEST THAT OWHO DID TO USE AS A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL HERE
FOIA - Forest Service - Click HERE to get the right email to send a FOIA to FS
Forest Service also must produce public records upon request under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA, and they also use the same 9 exemptions and categorical exclusions listed under the FOIA -Bureau of Land Management column (left of this column).
Forest Service furthers defines Exemption 7 Certain types of information compiled for law enforcement purposes:
-Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;
-Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;
-Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
-Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished records on a confidential basis;
-Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or
-Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
Laws have different names in different states. They are sometimes called “right to know” or “sunshine” laws, but the most common names are Public or Open Records Laws or Acts. States require public agencies to retain records of official government business, regardless of the records’ physical form, and records laws require them to fulfill requests from the public or the press for copies of these records.
Specifics vary. Each state’s law outlines what kind of information is exempt, like personal medical information or juvenile court records. Some states may specify the time an agency has to respond, while others do not. How records may be used is also sometimes defined by state law. But all 50 states have public records laws that allow people to request information from public agencies.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
BLM NEPA PROJECTS/EPLANNING
BLM announces their proposed plans in stages. Those stages are scoping, preliminary EA or EIS, and Final Decisions. All of these are actions, or steps that are required pursuant to the National environmental Policy Act (NEPA - which is linked on our "Laws, Regulations & Legal Links" page.
*Navigating these sites can be daunting and we frequently do PIMs (public information meetings) on how to find open comment periods, and news on BLM's webpages. For information on how to attend our weekly PIM's email us or message us on social media.*
BLM PRESS RELEASES BLM announces other things like the beginning of a gather, the release of wild horses back to the land, and other non-NEPA activities on the Press Release Pages. BLM used to use one national page for all Press Releases foundHERE.
Because they make thousands of press releases annually, they have started to put them on individual State pages, so once you get to the Press Releases national page (linked above) you need to choose the state or area you want.
OIG Complaints - Complaints for programs or agencies under the Department of the Interior (DOI) can be filed with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at this link.
National Park Service Documents, Brochures & Books- This website is where you can find important documents on the managment decisions of the NPS. We first found this in 2023 when the NPS proposed their plans to get rid of the entire her of wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.