Our attorney’s dug through the “Wolf Creek Files” and what they found confirmed our worst fears: The National Forest Service was in collusion with developer Red “B.J.” McCombs, again. We’re sharing the evidence with you.
Ever had the desire to read through and analyze 69,701 pages of correspondences and reports? No? That’s okay, we did it for you. We received these documents from the Forest Service for the Wolf Creek legal case, so we picked out the condemning ones to share with you, complete with analysis (although the full Administrative Record is here for your enjoyment). Each time we release a new exhibit, we’ll post it here.
So, follow us and stay updated as we release our findings; in the meantime, we will keep fighting for a fair, lawful, and transparent analysis of the environmental impacts of development on Wolf Creek Pass.
The first file we detail is District Ranger Malecek’s “Burn this once read!” email. The email shows evidence of a practice of destroying potentially incriminating records and illustrates contempt for the public review process.
In these emails Forest Service employee, Randy Ghormley, is asking agency employees working on the EIS if they should hide the trail of records concerning their discussions with a third party consultant about lynx issues. The email chain shows a practice of identifying potentially incriminating records and concealing them from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests through (1) printing hardcopies, and (2) misusing attorney-client privilege.
In this email, District Ranger Malecek indicates that the developer, Red McCombs, is insisting on a meeting with Under Secretary Sherman because he is unhappy with the environmental analysis process. McCombs is allowed to inquire about the Forest Service’s process. He is not, however, allowed to use his relationships with “higher ups” to influence the project.
This email from Adam Poe to Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas has been almost fully redacted, or blacked out, on the basis of attorney-client privilege, even though no attorneys were included in the email. Many of the documents we’ve received through FOIA and as a result of our legal cases have large sections, even whole email chains, blacked-out due to attorney-client privilege. We are concerned, and evidence indicates, that attorney-client privilege was abused in these FOIA documents to hide damaging evidence.
The emails in this chain from Forest Service employee Jim Bedwell to other employees prove regular phone conversations between Red McCombs’ lobbyists and government decision makers. They also clearly show how Red McCombs and his lobbyists used his political power to try and influence the Forest Service’s decision.