Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed by Congress in 1966 and became effective on July 4, 1967. Congress wanted to ensure that the people have access to records of the Executive Branch of the United States Government. Before the FOIA, the burden was on the individual to establish a right to examine government records.

With the passage of the FOIA, the burden of proof shifted from the individual to the government. Those seeking information are no longer required to show a need for information. The government now has to justify its need for not releasing records.

The FOIA sets standards for determining which records must be made available to a requester and which records can be withheld. The law also provides administrative and judicial remedies for those denied access to records. Above all, the statute requires federal agencies to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public.

Under the Freedom on Information Act (FOIA), any person may obtain records from any Federal agency, subject to the exemptions enacted by Congress to protect information that must be held in confidence for the Government to function effectively or for other purposes.

How to Submit a FOIA Request

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and USDA regulations at 7 CFR, any person can request access to USDA Forest Service records. The FOIA requires the Forest Service to allow the public access unless the information is exempt under the FOIA from mandatory disclosure (e.g., classified national security, business proprietary, personal privacy, investigative).

  1. Send a written request for the records directly to the FOIA/PA Coordinator responsible for the records sought.
  2. Describe the requested records clearly.
  3. It's helpful to include time frames, names of authors and recipients, and subject matter in the description of the records requested.
  4. State your willingness to pay the fees associated with processing the request or seek a fee waiver.
  5. If you seek a fee waiver, address specifically the criteria articulated in Section 6 (a)(1) of 7 CFR Part 1, Subpart A, Appendix A.
  6. If you do not know and cannot determine which coordinator is responsible for the records you seek, you may address your request to the Forest Service Washington Office FOIA Service Center. Please know that failure to send your request to the responsible agency or agency official may likely result in a delay in proper receipt and processing of your request.

If you would like to submit a request for records to the Pacific Southwest Region, including any Forests within the Region, you should direct your FOIA request to the  Pacific Southwest Region FOIA Service Center. If you know the records you are requesting are maintained by another Forest Service office, you should direct your FOIA request to the appropriate  FOIA Service Center.

Persons with disabilities or persons needing additional assistance with a FOIA request may contact Latanga Rush, the Pacific Southwest Region FOIA Coordinator, at 707-562-9193 or via email at