A recent exchange between the Army Corps Of Engineers and a Sandpoint Businessman seeking answers.

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Our Response

The purpose of this letter is to appeal your agency’s partial denial of my Freedom of Information Request.

The basis for my appeal is that the Master Development Plan in question is required under the funding legislation for the Albeni Falls Project and is specifically to include “the desires of many agencies, such as private business interests, sportmen’s associations, municipal and state authorities as a result tof a gradual crystallization of public demand.” The document is intended to be created with public input not protected from public information requests. These statements all come from the COE generated Document Senate Document #9. (see paragraph 102 and 103 page 33 and paragraph 118 page 39)

118. Other benefits. The benefits accruing from recreational opportunities created or augmented by the project, and those resulting from the conservation of fish and other wildlife are closely associated, because the latter will be entirely game varieties. Ultimately, the recreational and conservational aspects of the project, particularly with respect to the extension and stabilization of Pend Oreille Lake, will be substantial. A report by the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, included as a section of appendix V, has established the net annual benefit to conservation by the Albeni Falls project at $12,500. The exact nature and extent of recreational developments are somewhat dependent on the desires of the many agencies, such as private business interests, sportsmen’s associations, and municipal and State authorities, who may join the Government in providing facilities. Improvements such as those mentioned previously in paragraphs 102 and 103 usually result from a gradual crystallization of public demand. Costs of such facilities cannot be estimated satisfactorily until such time as a master recreational plan reflecting the desires of local interest and establishing the economic justification of each proposal can be formulated. It can be assumed, however, that the benefits from recreation and improved sanitation will at least equal the costs by whomsoever incurred, and the omission either of expected costs or probable benefits will not prejudice the economic justification of the Albeni Falls project. Therefore, the evaluation of these highly important benefits has not been attempted at this time.

The withheld documents do not qualify as privileged. On the contrary the public is intended to be included in the development of the Master Plan to achieve the multiple purposes that the project was approved and constructed. Those multiple purposes are co-equal in the defined functions of the project: Power generation, navigation, flood control, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation. (see page 21) These purposes are derived from the COE acknowledged State of Idaho water rights for the same. (see page 20) The very essence of the Master Plan was to protect the inhabitants interests and rights not to secretly avoid the public input.

Thanks for your consideration in this matter.

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