The Forest Service is helping corporations keep the public in the dark about their proposed operations on public lands. This is opposite the intent of the Freedom of Information Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Flathead National Forest temporarily dismissed Pursuit’s proposal to build a tram up Columbia Mountain. We did a FOIA request to learn details. Of the 162 pages provided after the Forest Service consulted with Pursuit, parts of 149 pages were removed, including all details about the proposal itself, to protect “trade secrets and commercial information.”
An internal email from the Forest Supervisor said, “Pursuit is looking to limit the amount of agency folks that know about this right now to ensure that it doesn’t leak out to the public before they are ready.” Why is a public agency helping a private corporation get the jump on the public and members of its own staff? The same is happening with POWDR’s bid to expand Holland Lake Lodge.
If private corporations don’t want the public to see what they are planning, they shouldn’t be applying for permits to do business on public lands. Agencies must inform the public from the start, not after it’s a done deal.
Keith J. Hammer
Chair, Swan View Coalition
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