MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST
DONIPHAN/ELEVEN POINT RANGER DISTRICT
DONIPHAN, WINONA AND VAN BUREN, MO
Contact: Charlotte Wiggins or Terry Miller
MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST PREPARES TO HOST NATIONAL GATHERING
THOMASVILLE, Mo. -- The Mark Twain National Forest (US Forest Service, USDA) is setting up a temporary office in Thomasville, Mo. to manage the annual North
American Rainbow Gathering, scheduled to take place June 28-July 10.
A team of specialists trained and experienced in responding to emergency
situations, such as wildfires, has been called in to handle the logistics and
coordination of the use of National Forest property. The team will work with
local communities, law enforcement agencies and government representatives to
meet their needs and concerns.
An estimated 20,000 people will converge at a site 3 miles north of here on
National Forest property on the Doniphan/Eleven Point Ranger District of the
Mark Twain National Forest between now and July 10.
The Rainbow "Family" is an informal network of people who gather each year on a different National Forest. There are no "leaders," and no official
organization. Decisions are made by consensus via councils. Their dress and
activities are similar in many ways to the flower children of the 1960's.
During past gatherings, the annual event generated large crowds and heavy
traffic in remote and rural areas. Participants were also cited for nudity and
With the number of expected participants, there are many concerns, both
environmental and social.
"Let me assure you that the Forest Service will do everything we can to
insure that the gathering is conducted safely and peacefully with a minimum of
disruption to local communities, neighbors, and the natural resources of the
National Forest," said Mark Twain National Forest Supervisor Randy Moore.
Moore said the Forest Service's main objective during the event will be to
provide for the safety and welfare of all concerned; those attending the
gathering, nearby residents, local communities, and other National Forest
"We have already contacted all of the law enforcement agencies that may be affected, and will be bringing in additional Forest Service law enforcement
officers to assist the effort. National Forest, State and local laws 6
regulations will be enforced around the perimeter of the gathering site and law
enforcement will maintain a constant presence within the area."
As a result of past gatherings, the Forest Service in 1988 challenged the
Rainbow Family from congregating on National Forests A federal court ruled
that the group has a constitutional right to gather and that, the Forest Service
is obligated to cooperate with the Rainbow Family to work out the logistics for
the annual gathering. A refusal by the Forest Service would violate their
constitutional right of free speech and the right to gather.
The Forest Service will also work with the group to minimize environmental
effects. In general, past gatherings have minimized the impact of such a large
number of people by collecting and disposing of garbage, treating toilet
facilities with lime and covering them, and reseeding are which have been
compacted and denuded. The Forest Service will also work with the Rainbows to
alleviate parking and traffic congestion along Forest Road 3173.
Several dozen people have already moved into the site. It is estimated
several people will remain after July 10 to help rehabilitate the site. The
group should leave the area by the first of August.
June 18, 1996
Editor's Note: The phone number at the temporary headquarters for the public
information office is
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