Accessing public records of the Department of Conservation
The public has a right under the California Constitution and California Public Records Act (Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.) to access public information maintained by State and local government agencies. That includes the right to inspect and copy public records. The following information further describes the right of public access and how to obtain records from the Department of Conservation (DOC), which includes the:
- Division of Land Resource Protection;
- Division of Mine Reclamation;
- Geologic Energy Management Division;
- California Geological Survey.
“Public Record” Defined
A “public record” is any writing that contains information related to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by DOC. Writings include information recorded or stored on paper, computers, email, or audio or visual tapes.
Access to Public Records Available Online
DOC maintains many public records and public data on its website. You may access:
Inspection of Public Records at Office Locations
Public records are available for inspection during the regular business hours at DOC’s headquarters and district offices. DOC encourages persons interested in inspecting copies of public records to make a file review appointment in advance. Appointments are not mandatory, but DOC staff may need time before the inspection to review the records and redact or remove any information exempt from disclosure. An appointment can be made by email, fax, telephone, or in person using the contact information available on DOC’s website and at all DOC offices.
To prevent records from being lost, damaged, or destroyed during an inspection, DOC staff may determine the location of and monitor the inspection.
Requests for Inspection or Copies of Public Records
DOC encourages, but does not require, interested persons to request an inspection or copies of public records in writing. Written requests help DOC to respond more promptly and to identify more accurately the records sought. DOC staff who receive an oral request may confirm it in writing to ensure that they understand what records are being requested.
Requesters should be as specific as possible about the records they seek. When a record cannot be identified by name or title, the requester should attempt to describe the record with as much detail as possible regarding content, authors, dates or a date range, and other identifying characteristics. If known, requesters should indicate whether DOC or a particular division, the California Geological Survey, or State Mining & Geology Board maintains the record.
When a request is not sufficiently specific, DOC staff will help the requester to identify the records, describe how DOC maintains the records or their physical location, and provide suggestions on how to overcome practical barriers to disclosure. Vague or unnecessarily broad descriptions (e.g., a request for all records “relating to” a general subject) may delay DOC’s response to the request and result in a larger volume of records than the requester intended.
Direct requests to:
Department of Conservation
715 P Street MS 19-06
Sacramento, CA 95814
Process for Responding to Requests for Copies of Public Records
When DOC receives a request for copies of public records and cannot produce them immediately, DOC will determine within 10 days after receiving the request whether, in whole or part, the request seeks copies of disclosable public records within DOC’s possession. DOC will notify the requester of the determination. DOC may extend the initial 10-day timeframe for up to an additional 14 days if DOC needs to:
- Search for and collect records from more than one DOC office;
- Search for, collect, and examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records;
- Consult with other agencies; or
- Compile data, write programming language or computer program, or construct a computer report to extract data.
When possible, DOC will provide public records at the time the determination is made to disclose them. If immediate disclosure is not possible, DOC will provide an estimated date when the records will be available. DOC will make the records available as promptly as reasonably practicable. DOC generally needs more time to locate and assemble a large number of records, especially when they are maintained at various locations.
In response to a request for a public record posted on DOC’s website, DOC may direct the requester to the location of the record on the website. If the requester is unable to access or reproduce the public record after being directed to it on the website, the requester may seek a copy of the record from DOC.
DOC does not charge a fee for the public to access records available on DOC’s website or for the time that DOC staff spend to research, retrieve, redact, or transmit public records. DOC may charge 10 cents per page as the direct cost of providing paper copies and 5 dollars per compact disc as the direct cost of providing electronic copies. DOC may charge its full costs when it must compile or extract electronic data or perform computer programming to satisfy a request.
Exemptions from Disclosure
DOC will provide access to the public records requested except to the extent the law exempts a record or information from mandatory disclosure. Examples of public records or information that may be exempt from disclosure include: confidential well data, personnel or medical records, investigative records, drafts, confidential legal communications, attorney work product, proprietary data, and records prepared in connection with litigation.
For some records, DOC may be able to remove or redact exempt information and disclose the non-exempt information that remains.
Relevant Legal Authorities and Guidance
California Constitution, Article I, Section 3, subdivision (b) and the California Public Records Act govern access to public records of state and local government agencies. For more information, access the links following links: