FWS Region 4 ESA I

Jimmy Tobias filed this request with the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4 of the United States of America.
Tracking #

FWS-2019-00597

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Jimmy Tobias


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

This request seeks records within the custody of Region 4 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(“the Service”), including any of its field offices, that were created, sent, forwarded, re-sent,
received, or reviewed by any officers, employees, agents, or consultants of the Service during the
time period from January 20, 2017, until the date of search for records responsive to this request.

For purposes of this request, “list” and “de-list” mean, respectively, to add or remove a species
from the lists of endangered or threatened wildlife species pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1533. “Downlist”
means to change a species’ listing status from endangered to threatened.

REQUESTED RECORDS

We request the following records from the Service:

1. All records relating to any change, by instruction, guidance, memoranda, or otherwise, to
policy, practice, or procedure governing the decision(s) to list, decline to list, de-list, or
down-list any species or category of species or to defer or accelerate any such decision;

2. All records relating to any change in the standards, criteria, or review process applicable
to decision(s) to list, decline to list, de-list, or down-list any species or category of
species, or to defer or accelerate any such decision;

3. All records relating to any existing or proposed quotas, targets, goals, requirements,
expectations, or aspirations for listing, declining to list, de-listing, or down-listing
species, whether quantitative or qualitative in nature;

4. All records relating to the selection of the 35 species identified in 83 Fed. Reg. 20092 or
the 42 species identified in 83 Fed. Reg. 38320 for status reviews;

5. All requests or instructions that staff identify listed species that could potentially be delisted
or down-listed or candidate species for which listing could potentially be declined,
and any records created in response to such requests or instruction; and

6. Any and all listing petitions, de-listing petitions, status reviews, or other documents
initiating a proposal to list, de-list, or down-list any species, that were forwarded to or
reviewed by any of the following person(s), along with any associated responses,
instructions, or annotations from the person(s) to whom they were forwarded or by whom
they were reviewed:
a. Any person other than an employee of the Service in Region 4 or one of its field
offices;
b. Any person who is an employee of the Service in Region 4 or one of its field
offices and:
i. Has, at any time since January 20, 2017, been a political appointee
(including without limitation any government employee that was
appointed by the President, any government employee that was appointed
by the Secretary or Administrator of a federal agency, any government
employee that has held a Schedule C position, or any employee who has
worked in the Executive Office of the President);

ii. Has, at any time since January 20, 2017, held a position listed in any
version of the document “United States Government Policy and
Supporting Positions,” otherwise known as the “Plum Book,” whether or
not the person’s actual name appears in a version of the Plum Book;

iii. Whose hiring was coordinated with the Presidential Personnel Office; or

iv. Who, as a part of their job responsibilities with the Service, communicates
with elected officials or their offices.

This request is not intended to exclude any other records that, although not specifically
requested, are reasonably related to the subject matter of this request.

agency offices where responsive records may be located.

WITHHELD DOCUMENTS

In regard to the other requested records, under the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, agencies are
prohibited from denying requests for information pursuant to FOIA unless prohibited by law or
the agency reasonably believes release of the information will harm an interest that is protected
by a FOIA exemption. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(8)(A). Should you decide to invoke a FOIA exemption,
please include in your response a description of which responsive documents are withheld with
sufficient information for us to assess the basis for the exemption, including any interest(s) that
would be harmed by their release. Please include a detailed index identifying:

1. Basic factual material about each withheld record, including the originator, date,
length, general subject matter, and location of each item; and

2. Complete explanation and justification for withholding each record, including the
specific exemption(s) under which the record (or portion thereof) is withheld and a full
explanation of how each exemption applies to the withheld material. Such statements will
be helpful in deciding whether to appeal an adverse determination and/or may help to
avoid unnecessary litigation.

If you determine that portions of responsive records are exempt from disclosure, please segregate
or redact the exempt portions and provide the non-exempt portions within the statutory time
limit. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b).

I am a reporter for The Guardian and Pacific Standard magazine.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Afternoon Mr. Tobias,

Attached is a copy of your acknowledgment/clarification letter for FOIA
FWS-2019-00597. Thanks!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

Dear Ms. McClurkin,

Thank you for the note. As a reporter who plans to use the public records I have requested to publish newsworthy articles of interest to the American public, I request a fee waiver for this FOIA request. Specifically, the records that I am requesting from your agency will significantly contribute to the American public's understanding of whether and how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adequately implementing the Endangered Species Act in accordance with the dictates of law. It will also shed light on whether certain business and political interests are influencing the agency's decision making and who top level FWS officials are communicating with in relation to crucial decisions about whether to list or de-list endangered species. The implementation of the Endangered Species Act is an issue of the utmost importance, as it pertains directly to the U.S. government's commitment to mitigating the extinction crisis that threatens wildlife around the country. As such, I request all fees in this matter be waived.

I have a long track record of publishing important stories of public interests on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and intend to continue doing this work with the help of the documents your agency provides. You can find an example of my work here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/18/trump-administration-us-endangered-species-discussions-secret

If the agency denies me a fee waiver, I am willing to pay up to $50 in fees.

If you have any further questions, please contact me at 248-763-0088.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Afternoon Mr. Tobias,

Thanks for your response. Our office will continue with the processing of your request.

We have classified you as a “news media” requester and considered your fee waiver request. Your fee waiver has been granted.

We use Multi-track Processing to process FOIA requests. The Simple track is for requests that can be processed in one to five workdays. The Normal track is for requests that can be processed in six to twenty workdays. The Complex track is for requests that can be processed in twenty-one to sixty workdays. The Exceptional/Voluminous track is for requests requiring more than sixty workdays for processing. The Expedited track is for requests that have been granted expedited processing. Within each track, requests are usually processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

Your request falls in the "complex" processing track. Requests in this track will take between twenty-one workdays to sixty workdays to process. Please note the use of multi-track processing does not alter the statutory deadline for Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with your FOIA request.

You may narrow the scope of your request to obtain quicker processing in your currently-assigned track or move the request into a faster track (which may have the effect of reducing the cost of processing your request). If you have any questions about this, please contact us.

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Morning Mr. Tobias,

After assigning all of your FOIAs to the responsible areas, it was brought
to my attention that we will need to arrange a call to discuss all of your
requests to hopefully narrow the focus of your request or for you to
identify which record(s) you are looking for specifically. Some of your
requests are straightforward in what you are seeking, whereas some are very
broad and voluminous in nature and includes information from people service
wide. If you could provide me a few days and times that you are available
next week, that will be great. Once you have provide me this information, I
will set up a call to include the subject matter experts. Thanks for your
attention to this matter!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

Hi Tiffany,

Thank you for the note. I am free for a call on Friday this week if that would work. What time is best for you that day?

Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Afternoon Mr. Tobias,

Sorry for the delayed response. The Regional Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can discuss the focus of your requests on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. I have listed the details below. If you can please confirm that you are able to attend, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Date/Time: Friday, April 12, 2019 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST

Dial In: (888) 889-6559

Passcode: 27921

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

That works great Tiffany. Thanks so much.

Jimmy Tobias

From: Jimmy Tobias

Hi Tiffany,

Forgive the last minute change of plans, but I have a last minute deadline that was dropped on me that I need another hour to complete? Is there any chance we could do this call at 2 PM EST today, or sometime next week? Either way would work for me. Thanks so much.

You can reach me at 248-763-0088.

Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Afternoon Mr. Tobias,

We will have to reschedule the call to next Thursday, April 18, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. I will send the conference call information later. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

Sounds great Tiffany. Thanks so much.

Jimmy

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Morning Mr. Tobias,

Please see below details for tomorrow’s conference call to obtain clarification regarding some of your requests. Thanks and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Date/Time: Thursday, April 18, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST

Dial In: (888) 779-7047

Passcode: 59034

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

Hi Tiffany,

I just wanted to double check that this call in number is correct.

Jimmy

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Afternoon Mr. Tobias,

Records have been uploaded for review, but it will take some time for those records to be reviewed. We will try to get you a partial response soon. Thanks!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Morning Mr. Tobias,

I have followed up with the Program regarding the status of your request. Thanks!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good Morning Mr. Tobias,

Larry Lee is currently processing this request.

Larry: Can you please provide Mr. Tobias with a status update? Your help with this will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

V/R

Tiffany McClurkin

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Headquarters Information Resources & Technology Management

Government Information Specialist

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Coordinator

(E) <mailto:foiar4@fws.gov> foiar4@fws.gov

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

Good morning Mr. Tobias,

There is a scheduled meeting tomorrow referencing release of documents for
this request. Therefore you will be receiving an initial response very
soon. Thanks for your continued patience and have a great day. V/R
--
Larry B. Lee
Government Information Specialist
FOIA/Records
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region (Region 4)
1875 Century Blvd,
Atlanta GA 30345
(O) (404) 679-4109
(E) larry_lee@fws.gov

From: Jimmy Tobias

Thank you very much for the update Larry.

Jimmy Tobias

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

A first set of responsive documents from the agency, with more to be sent at a specified date.

From: Jimmy Tobias

Hi Larry,

I just opened the document that was attached to your last message, and it looks like it was just a response letter. Were there supposed to be documents attached as well?

Let me know and thank you.

Jimmy

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

A first set of responsive documents from the agency, with more to be sent at a specified date.

From: U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service, Region 4

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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