1997 Rainbow Family Gathering
Information Office Overview
The 1997 Rainbow Gathering was held at Indian Prairie, Big Summit Ranger District, Ochoco National Forest. Prineville, Oregon was the closest town for supply purchase and on the main route to and from the Gathering. Prineville is a community with a population of 6000 in Crook County, population 11500. Many community events occurred during the time of the Rainbow ingress and egress.
It was important that once the Rainbow Family chose their site and Prineville was identified as the community to get the largest impact that community leaders be contacted and the situation explained. It was equally as important that social service agencies and public assistance agencies be contacted. Although it was not know what the impact would be, it was known that there would be an impact.
Some of the things that the Information Office found that worked include:
* Working closely with the Forest Public Affairs Office to determine the community leaders who needed to be regularly contacted, what issues would likely be concerns for the community and those groups who it would be beneficial to visit and share background on the Gathering.
* Developed an internal and external mailing list for sharing daily updates and other pertinent information.
* Sent daily updates to employees, media and others.
* It was felt that holding a public meeting would give the naysayers an opportunity to grandstand so advantage was taken of existing group meetings to reach a large number of citizens.
Some of the things that did not work include:
* An environmental education program was attempted however it was not well accepted and subsequently discontinued. It is felt that a program of this type (as well as most activities) must be coordinated with the Forest and the District in order to be successful.
* Law enforcement statistics were difficult to get during the initial time of the Gathering.
* Daily updates got "dull" after a while. New information needed to be put at the beginning in order to keep people interested.
* As in any team setting communication is extremely important between all the participants. Communication between law enforcement and the information office was strained and it is felt that in order to be effective this gap needs to be addressed.
The Public Affairs Action Plan and the Daily Logs that contain the actual events that the Information Office conducted are an appendix to this report.
Operating Plan Development:
The 1996 Operating Plan was used as a starting point. The hope being that a plan which was previously accepted would be easier to get approval on. It was modified to include site specific resource concerns and Health and Public Safety advice pertinent to the State of Oregon. During discussions at the Rainbow Family Council it came to OSC Carver's attention that this plan (or one very similar) was originally drafted by the Family, discussed at length with the Forest Service in Washington DC, and agreed to in principle_ (Source: Family member Red Moonsong) Despite the history OSC Carver presented and discussed the plan at several council meetings each lasting 4 to 5 hours (including travel time). At the start of the first Council both parties agreed with the intent of the plan. Discussions centered around "words". Use of any wording, or dates, which might be construed as restrictive, regulatory, or enforceable was met with great resistance and considered unacceptable by the Family. The plan was reworked several times toning down or removing any such wording. The result was an operating plan which key members said they thought would be accepted. The reality was the Family realized it was an attachment to the Special Use Permit and unilaterally rejected the plan.
Fire Plan Development:
The plan was written to address public safety, fire danger and associated suppression capabilities. It needs to be reviewed and approved by major players such as the local dispatching office, Forest Fire Staff, and District FMO. Preparation took 3 to 4 hours and copies of the safety maps were provided to the Family as per the Operations Plan.
Compliance Monitoring (as per Operating Plan):
We used our Team's Division/Group Supervisors and the District Resource Advisor for this task. A form was developed by law enforcement to report non-compliance for past, present, or future law cases involving the family. For safety reasons we had these folks in two person teams. They were scheduled for daily patrols originally, but were reduced to every other day due to financial concerns. Also, we brought these folks on rather late in the process. It may be advisable to bring them on sooner in order to track the facilities as they are being developed. Facilities include kitchens, latrines, water sources, etc. Working these folks in teams may have been unnecessary and their effectiveness may have been increased by splitting them up to cover more ground. We did NOT work them in the areas of bus village or ''A" camp. Compliance was generally good within the main gathering area but adjacent parking, bus villages, and
A Camp areas had moderate to high incidences of surface deposition of fecal material in non latrine areas & garbage torn apart by dogs.
Rehabilitation Plan Development:
This plan needs to be developed in coordination with the District specialists. Should be completed prior to July 4th and recommendations provided to the Family as per the Operating Plan.
Coordination with State Health Officials:
OSC Resources and LOGS worked closely with Oregon State Health Officials to provide advise to the Family on food handling, water treatment, and sanitation practices which would reduce the risk of public health problems if implemented. State Health Officials took the lead making physical contacts with the Family.
Coordination with Area Aviation Officer:
Coordinated with the area aviation officer on completion of a project aviation plan and aviation safety briefing which allowed Forest Service personnel to fly in non Forest Service aircraft.
This was a major time consuming task initially. The OSC needs to be part of the briefing teams as this is a taxing job and too much for PIO to carry on their own. This can take major portions of the first 5 or 6 days to accomplish.
In the 1997 gathering, OSC (resources) supervised the actions of the District Resource Advisor, 5 Division/Group Supervisors, and one Engine Crew. It is important to identify the District Resource Advisor as early in the process as possible in order to gain a perspective of District concerns regarding resource concerns/protection. Supervision of the Div/Grp Sups essentially amounted to scheduling of individuals, briefing them of expectations and their duties. Having sufficient people after the fourth of July and prior to total demobilization of Rainbows is important in order to ensure compliance with the operating plan. Supervision of the Engine was not a problem as we used local resources and the engine was on standby at the local ranger station when IA resources were required by the Fire Plan.
It is important for the District Resource Advisor to have a full understanding of their role. The DRA should serve on the team but should also be able to make resource decisions on behalf of the Ranger. They also serve as liaison between the District and the Team.
This was a minor item in 1997. OSC's saw a need to attend only those briefings where new LEO's were brought in. We saw no need to have OSC attend all briefings since the info tended not to change after the initial shift.
On Site Visitors
It is a good idea for the OSC to be somewhat familiar with the gathering area and camp layout. The amount of time that can be spent on site is extremely variable.
Coordination of activities with Rainbows:
This is an important item. Gaining family member cooperation is an exercise in diplomacy that can significantly reduce stress and workload. In 1997 we found that we had common concerns regarding parking, especially along main access routes. Family members did most of the in-field contacts and assisted with putting notes on vehicles that were illegally parked. When it came time to tow vehicles, we had complete cooperation and understanding from family members. Coordination of activities can be done either in council, or by contacts with individuals who serve as "focalizers". It may be best to use the latter method for the majority of cooperation contacts. A word of advice: avoid giving direction to the family if possible. They will refuse to comply or at best will resist.
Alligators that were specific to this gathering:
Timber Sale Operations: An active sale was going on in the area when the family chose the spot. We had problems with public safety and security of equipment. We did gain rainbow cooperation with the public safety issues for a safe resolution that met the needs of the family, the logger, and the District. We explained to the family the repercussions of shutting the logging down and the bad press that would go through the local community. They quickly agreed to cooperate.
Cattle Drive: A local rancher drove 120 pairs through the event. At first he was concerned and even talked of canceling the drive. We convinced him to talk to the family about the event. He did, the family cooperated and the drive came off nicely.
Endurance Ride: An endurance ride (commercial permit) is scheduled for the event area on the 19th of July. Initially, we spent time as the middle man between the permit tee and the District. After about the third contact, the District and the Team came to the conclusion that this was a District matter and that all future contacts/discussions would be led by the District.
Airspace Coordination: We considered a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the gathering area as we had reports of lots of airborne rubber-neckers. On follow up, we found that the "lots" turned out to be 2 airplanes per day and the TFR became a non-issue. We did issue a NOTAM for the area as the site was next to a military route.
Siting of Medical Unit: we assisted in this task by coordination of the site with District personnel and a show-me trip of medical staff to the selected site.
Excess Dogs and Parvo: we coordinated with local humane society and dog pound on the possibility of 10-100 dogs being left when the family had departed. Historically, this has bee the number of animals left on site when everyone pulled out. Because of an outbreak of Parvo, the dog pound says that many of the animals will probably need to be destroyed. Destruction of animals costs between $15-25 per critter.
WO/SO/RO Visits: the gathering is extremely attractive to folks from all of these not to mention local, state and national politicians. Be prepared to carry part of the load in briefing these people.
Media Flights: We determined where media helicopters should land and coordinated let and long of these sites and then passed the word to local dispatch organization and PIO.
1. Present the Family with the Operating Plan "THEY" wrote (edited to include local resource and health advice) and tell them that we (the Forest Service) agree with the intent. The Family believes they can protect the natural resources and insure public health & safety. Allow them to implement their procedures and monitor for compliance. DO NOT "waste" your time sitting in council word-smithing a document which they will more than likely reject.
2. Bring on the DIVS early to be making on the ground contacts and gather intelligence on facility development. The OSC's time is dedicated to meetings, briefings, contributing to determining how the incident will be managed, figuring out what it all means, etc..
3. Don't get focused on the main gathering area. Recognize that the Family, while accepting their presence, does not make much of an effort to apply their operating plan practices in the bus village(s), A Camp, or parking areas. There was more non-compliance issues in these areas than the main gathering. These areas are recognized as more dangerous areas and the tendency was to "not go in there". They are an accepted part of the gathering by the Family and subject to the same requirements.
4. If you decide to "negotiate" agreements with the Family recognize that councils prior to July 1 are not considered official because the gathering has not started. Anything discussed will need to be presented again July 1 or later. Because discussions can be lengthy it is advisable to start prior to July 1.
5. Don't under estimate the amount of space a gathering of this size will occupy. The Indian Praire Meadow is approximately 350 acres in size and the Family members occupied approximately 3 Sections (1920 acres) at its peak population estimated at 25,000.
Operations Section Chiefs Resources
Central Oregon Incident Management Team
BIG SUMMIT RANGER DISTRICT
OCHOCO NATIONAL FOREST
The 1997 National Rainbow Family Gathering took place on the Big Summit Ranger District of the Ochoco National Forest. Over 20,000 visitors were estimated to be in the Indian Prairie area on July 4, 1997.
Early efforts to limit resource impacts of the gathering are appreciated by the District. The following cleanup & rehabilitation objectives are oriented towards returning the Indian Prairie site and Road 2630 access corridor to near natural conditions. General recommendations include:
1) Physical evidence of human presence should be removed from the site or rearranged to present a natural appearance.
2) Rehabilitation activities should be completed by August 15th, 1997. However if either the Forest Service or Rainbow Family feel additional time is needed to complete rehabilitation/clean-up this date can be extended.
3) To reduce the possible introduction of noxious weeds, reclamation seed will be provided by the Ochoco National Forest.
Specific recommendations include:
Retain specific improvements
1) the stone bridge crossing over the stream
2) the stone oven near the snow shelter.
1) Pickup all refuse, litter, informational signs, and other foreign material and dispose of at a recognized sanitary landfill or recycle center in accordance with County Regulations.
2) All kitchens, etc. will be totally dismantled and man made structures other than the bridge and oven should be disassembled and scattered to near natural condition on or around the site
3) Fire pits will be filled with the native material that was removed from the pit. Rocks will be scattered to appear natural to the surrounding landscape.
4) Latrines will be covered with the native material originally removed from the pit and mounded with excess material to allow for settling. All fecal matter will be covered. A light covering of lime on the surface (4 oz per trench) will be required.
5) Compost piles will only include natural decomposable material. Compost piles and gray water sumps will be covered with dirt and returned to a natural condition.
6) Grey water dumping areas will be filled in after they have dried out.
Trails and Roads
7) Water bars will be constructed along trails at approximately 1 bar per ten foot elevation change.
8) Rehabilitate all trails that have been created using the seed mix provided by the District.
9) The closed road through the main meadow will be maintained as a 24" wide trail.
10) Any "new" roads (IE access to camping areas) that have been created will be returned to a natural, undisturbed appearance, preferably by raking the area.
11) All water lines will be removed from the gathering site. All springs where water lines were used will be restored to natural flowing conditions that existed before the gathering.
12) Remove flagging and stakes from areas flagged to restrict use.
13) Water bar and seed any new trails or "circles" where there is soil compaction and bare ground.
14) Return sites to a natural appearance. Due to the nature of the soil and vegetation in the forested understory, seeding will not be necessary in these areas.
15) Remove by raking or replacing rocks and other natural materials, impacts made to these areas during wet conditions ( i.e. ruts, tire tracks etc.).
The District will be providing two different types of seed. They are both to be used in the areas to be seeded. Because of the difference in the seed size they cannot be mixed until they are used on the ground.
For optimal germination, these seeds need to be raked in and covered with soil. Hand seed the Red Fescue at the rate of one handful per square yard of bare earth. Seed the White Oats at a rate of two handfuls per square yard. Rake and cover seeds. Then gently walk over area to insure good seed/soil contact and pray for rain.
The oats will provide immediate, temporary, cover (within one week), if there is sufficient moisture. The fescue will take longer to germinate but will persist.
Areas needing special attention:
For further information contact: