Critically important large trees over 21” in diameter are now open to logging in six national forests in Oregon and Washington. Pictured: Large tree cut down in Malheur National Forest. Photo by Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project.

Crag takes Forest Service to court for years of withholding documents from the public

On July 6, 2022, Crag and attorney David Bahr filed a lawsuit on behalf of Greater Hells Canyon Council to hold the Forest Service accountable for its lack of transparency. 

Since 2015, Greater Hells Canyon Council has filed multiple requests under the Freedom of Information Act (commonly known as “FOIA”) for information about the Forest Service’s administration of protections for large trees in eastern Oregon and Washington. In 2021, we helped GHCC file two more records requests about the Forest Service’s decision to remove long-standing protections from large, old trees on six national forests east of the Cascades, known as the Eastside Screens 21-inch rule. 

For years, the Forest Service has missed deadlines and withheld thousands of pages of records to shield its decisionmaking from public view. 

For example, out of over 39,000 pages of public records relevant to the decision to eliminate the Eastside Screens 21-inch rule, the Forest Service withheld over 20,000 pages of records–roughly 60% of the documents it reviewed.

Now, Crag is fighting to get all of the documents released. This is an important step to push for government transparency and responsible public lands management. 

Visit https://crag.org/protecting-large-trees-in-eastern-oregon-eastside-screens to read more about our efforts to protect large trees in Eastern Oregon and Washington. 

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