SELC sues for information on secret public lands overhaul

Federal agencies, including the National Park Service which oversees parks like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, could be reorganized under the current administration but officials are illegally keeping plans secret. (© Michael Warren)

As numerous signs suggest a potential shakeup in how the nation’s public lands are overseen, SELC is suing for access to public information about government plans. In a suit filed today, SELC charged the Office of Management and Budget with failing to release information about efforts to fundamentally reorganize federal agencies responsible for managing federal public lands, including the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal public lands benefit local economies, promote clean water, and support wildlife, fisheries, wilderness, and recreation,” said Attorney Kym Hunter. “This administration’s efforts to keep the public in the dark as they leave the future of public lands in jeopardy is harmful and illegal.”

In March 2017, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the head of each federal agency to submit a report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlining proposed overhauls. Since then, many executive branch officials, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, have forecasted major reorganizations of the agencies responsible for managing public lands, but have been mum on the details.

SELC filed a request for information related to these reports in November 2017. After initially acknowledging SELC’s request, OMB has failed to provide the requested information or respond to inquiries pertaining to the request. Today’s suit challenging OMB was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

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