United States          Forest             Region 1
Department of          Service            200 East Broadway
Agriculture                               Missoula, Mt 59807                                    

January 11, 2000
Mr. Mike Batista, Administrator
Montana Division of Criminal Investigations
Helena, Mt 59620-14114

Dear Mr. Batista:

The Rainbow Family of Living Light intends to hold their national gathering in Idaho or Montana from early June though mid July 2000. Attendance at these gatherings ranges from 18,000 to 25,000 people. This group typically refuses to follow Forest Service procedure and apply for a permit to use the land. Extensive resource and social impacts occur to the national forest and local communities with this influx of people. Criminal activity is high and includes illegal drug use, underage drinking, auto theft, an influx of runaways at the gathering, resource violations, property theft, disorderly conduct, and more violent crimes such as assault, rape and homicide have also occurred. Planning for this event is already in progress by the Forest Service. The gathering will be managed by a Forest Service National Incident Team.

William C Fox
Acting Special Agent in Charge

Rainbow Family Gathering photos by Chad Harder
Photos by Chad Harder in this clickable collection:
Peace of Sky Washing Machine Millenium Meltdown

speaker iconRainbow Family (10:42 RealAudio®) pubradio feature on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler
Produced by Barrett Golding. Stereo music and ambient recordings by Hawker

Forest Service Statistics
(June 10-July 9, 1999)

Type of Incident               Number
Misdemeanor Arrests:                5
Felony Arrests                      0
Traffic Citations                 300
Non-Traffic Citations              67
Warnings and Other Incident Rpts  444
Drug Possession                    45                       
Weapon Incidents                    5
Driving Under the Influence         3          
Motor Vehicle Accidents             2
Medical Emergencies                 1
Juveniles Recovered                 6
Game and Fish Violations            1
Other Responses                   132
Perhaps next year, when Incident Command compiles its list of "Rainbow Gathering 2001 Incident Statistics" to fax to the media each day, below the tally of felony and misdemeanor arrests, public nudity, DUIs, stolen and damaged property, loitering, panhandling, and so on, they might also count how many hungry mouths were fed for free, how many infants were bathed, children clothed, homeless housed and warm blankets distributed. And while they're at it, they might add up how many songs were sung, new friends made, old friends reunited, stories shared and lessons learned.
--"From Babylon to Wisdom" by Ken Picard, Missoula Independent 7/13/2000
Rainbow people photos Our Permit to Gather reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievences.
--Rainbow Gathering Mini-Manual
Crystal Vision Rainbow Patriot Just Married Keli's Toes

Forest Service: Incidents of Significance Occurring at Rainbow Family Gathering

6/27 - Forest Service officer forced to use OC pepper spray on aggressive dog at gathering...
7/4 - Pennsylvania State Police removed sign along main road into gathering stating "Show Me Your Tits" after receiving citizen complaint...
7/7 - PSP handled three car collision with minor injures caused by gathering participant attempting to leave the gathering on the highway with no brakes...
7/8 - PSP observed and obtained medical care for juvenile observed ingesting "Gold Bond" cream.

Scenes from the Rainbow Family Gathering We stumble through the dark woods amongst them: the drums, the drums, the drums. All over the forest pockets of a hundred, two hundred dancers gather around separate groups of ten or twenty maniac percussionists wigth congas and bongos and tamborines and every other kind of thing to whang on loudly, and the rhythm rises up from all directions into the blackness of space, until the galactic cluster at the center of Andromeda trembles.
--"Hippies" by Denis Johnson
Mantra The Wave Teepee Village On the Path

Forest Service: Issues and Concerns

- A significant amount of controlled substance use continues to occur at the Rainbow Family Gatherings on National Forest System lands. Law enforcement personnel documented 45 drug-related incidents during the reporting period. However, widespread and open use of marijuana throughout the gathering, and persons under the influence of illegal substance, were observed by Forest Service and other agency officials.

"We're just not used to seeing people naked and using a garden hose to take a bath by the Mormon Church or changing their clothes in an isle in the grocery store. It created quite a lot of stress for quite a few people."
--John McIvor, District Ranger, Apache National Forest
- The Rainbow Family continues to refuse to comply with federal regulations governing large noncommercial group use of National Forest System lands. They state it is their Constitutional First Amendment right to gather on National Forest System lands. Three Rainbow Family members of this gathering were issued Violation Notices by the Forest Service for failure to obtain the required special use permit. The case is pending.
The Vision: conceived, by relatively well-intentioned human beings, in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. You could read about it in the Denver Post, or see it on the six o'clock news. By the middle of may, all 800 or so people in Granby expected to be overrun -- by an estimated one million fanatic christ and dope addicts coming to a blasphemous festival at table mountain, right smack in the middle of their park. It was going to last three whole days, and climax on the 4th of july -- sacrilege for sure - a bunch of peace crazies trampling over the mountains on independence day. A million of them! Granby was gearing up for the greatest natural disaster since the locusts ate utah.
--"Armageddon Postponed" by Tim Cahill, Rolling Stone 8/3/1972
- Heavy alcohol use occurred again at this year's gathering. As observed from areas accessible by patrol vehicle, alcohol use was heaviest in the A-camp area, but occurred throughout the gathering. One beer distributor in nearby Ridgway reported that from late June through at least July 8, gathering members paying over 54,000 cash they stated was gained by "passing the Magic Hat" at the gathering, purchased a total of 96 "half barrels" kegs of beer (equivalent to 672 cases). Many contacts were made by officers with juveniles possessing or consuming alcohol, and many juveniles were seen in the A-camp area during evening "parties" where heavy and open alcohol use was occurring. After July 4, a self-described "rave" party developed near the main parking area and continued for over a week. This party had amplified music, heavy alcohol use, a large presence of minors, and reported presence of ecstacy, LSD and other drugs.
"We just really didn't have any hardcore problems. I know some people aren't going to like me saying it, but we didn't have a single citizen raped or pillaged by the Rainbows. It just wasn't that bad."
--Ridgway Police Chief Burton Shaver

United States          Forest             Big Summit Ranger District
Department of          Service            33700 Ochoco Ranger Station
Agriculture                               Prineville, OR 97754

July 28, 1997
Rainbow Family of Living Light

Dear Rainbow Family Participants,

We are pleased with the cleanup and rehabilitation efforts by the Rainbow Family volunteers following the 1997 Gathering on the Big Summit Ranger District. Your commitment to caring for the land was demonstrated by your thoroughness and attention to detail and the District appreciates your hard work and cooperation in meeting the resource objectives.

When the number of Rainbow Gathering participants rapidly decreased from some 15,000 to about 500 between July 8 and July 15, kitchens and camps were dismantled and activity areas were cleaned up very quickly. Garbage was centralized; recycling and trash removal efforts were initiated and continued until completed.

Evidence of trails disappeared, water bars were constructed where necessary, and slash was scattered. Rocks were effectively dispersed from fire rings, circles, and ovens. Latrines, grey water, and compost areas were backfilled, kitchen structures were dismantled and little to no evidence remains of their locations. Compacted areas, particularly around the kitchens, were spaded and slashed and the heavy traffic areas around Welcome Home and drum circles were reseeded. In many areas, vegetation was recovering within two weeks following peak of the gathering. Fences were spliced and repaired. Abandoned vehicles were identified and towing was coordinated with the Forest Service and the Rainbow Family participants.

CleanupRainbow Family crowds efforts and rehabilitation were thorough and occurred mostly within two weeks following the peak of the gathering. Our post-gathering walk-though inspections showed that the cleanup volunteers were highly committed to completing the job.

Those of us on the Big Summit Ranger District appreciated your excellent cooperation on the resource issues before, during and after your gathering. Thanks again for your commitment to cleanup and restoration of Indian Prairie.

District Ranger

Caring for the Land and Serving People
Morning After 20,000 for Peace Inner Circle

URL link Rainbow Family of Living Light unofficial website
URL link Forest Service documents released through Freedom of Information Act
URL link "Hippies" by Denis Johnson, read by George Plimpton, published in Paris Review
URL link "From Babylon to Wisdom" by Ken Picard, photos: Chad Harder Missoula Independent 7/13/2000
URL link "Where Have All The Flower Children Gone?" by Barry Adams, original Rainbow

All photos by Chad Harder, a photojournalist based in Missoula, Montana.

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