In accordance with
the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and USDA regulations at 7 CFR,
any person can request access to USDA Forest Service (FS) records. The
FOIA requires the FS to disclose records unless the information
is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the FOIA (e.g., classified
national security, business proprietary, personal privacy, investigative).
Your request must be in writing (view a sample FOIA request letter).
Indicate that you are making a request under the FOIA, and address the
request to the Region or Station
that is responsible for the information you are requesting.
If you are not sure which Region or Station within the FS has the information
you want, send your request to the FS FOIA Officer at the following
VIA MAIL: (Go
Here for Fedex Address)
Forest Service, FOIA Service Center
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Mail Stop: 1143
Washington, DC 20250-1143
VIA FAX: (202) 260-3245
Identify the records you want as accurately as possible, supply all detail that would be helpful for locating the information (subject matter,
date, place where the record was created, the person or office that
created it, the present custodian of the record, etc.) FOIA does not require that new records be created in response
to a request.
You should also provide your phone number and mailing address so that
FS employees may contact you if needed.
Agencies are authorized by law to recover the direct costs of providing
information to a FOIA requester. A requester may be required to pay
fees for searching, reviewing, and copying records. You will be notified
in advance if fees will exceed $25.
For fee purposes, the FOIA requires that requesters be placed in one
of the following four categories: (1) commercial use requesters; (2)
news media, (3) educational institution, noncommercial scientific institution,
and (4) all others. Commercial use requesters are charged the full direct
cost of search, review and duplication, associated with processing their
requests. Scientific, educational, and news media requesters are charged
the cost of duplication alone, except that the first 100 pages are provided
free of charge. All other requesters are charged the direct costs of
search and duplication, except that the first 2 hours of search and
the first 100 pages of duplications are free of charge. No review charges
are assessed for requesters in this last category. Specify the fee category
in which you feel your request falls. State the maximum amount of fees
that you are willing to pay, or include a request for a fee waiver.
The FOIA permits agencies to waive fees if disclosure of the records
is in the public interest because it: (a) is likely to contribute significantly
to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government
(Does the record concern the operations or activities of the government?
Is disclosure likely to contribute to the public understanding of these
operations and activities? Will that contribution be significant?);
and (b) is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.
Requests for fee waivers must be fully documented and justified by written
explanation. The U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees FOIA compliance
throughout the federal government, sets out
a six-part test for agencies to follow when evaluating a request for
Under the Privacy Act (PA), a person may seek access to records that
are retrieved by that person's name or other personal identifier, such
as social security number or employee identification number. Such records
will be made available unless they fall within the exemptions of the
PA and the FOIA.
Detailed information concerning USDA policies and procedures for obtaining
access to information under the FOIA and the PA is available in 7 CFR
Part 1, Subpart A.