Each Rainbow gathering is different, but there are some features common to all gatherings. These features at the 1992 gathering at Overland Reservoir are described below. Features are identified on the map in Figure 2.

WELCOME CENTER - The Welcome Center was located at the intersection of the Overland Reservoir access road (PER 705) and Stevens Gulch Road (FDR 701). During the gathering, Rainbow family members would direct people to outlying parking areas, and attempted to restrict traffic on FDR 705 to live-in vehicles traveling to Bus Village and vehicles bringing in supplies.

FRONT GATE - The Front Gate was located near the Overland Reservoir dam, at the terminus of FDR 705. This was where the shuttle deposited its riders. New arrivals were "welcomed home' by other Rainbow Family members, and given information about the gathering and the location. Everyone had to pass through the Front Gate to get to the main camp.

INFORMATION CENTER - The Information Center, located near the Front Gate, was manned by family members who answered questions and gave directions. Information was posted on a easel-like structure constructed of tall ( 10-12') poles lashed together. Information on sanitation, camping, personal hygiene, scheduled events, Forest Service and Health Department fliers, and messages to/from gathering participants were displayed at this colorful location. General information was also available at CALM tents (see discussion below).

BUS VILLAGE - Bus Village and the adjacent Van Village were parking/camping areas for self contained and live-in vehicles. These areas were located just east of the Overland Reservoir spillway

Figure 2: Gathering Features/MAP

and encompassed approximately 30-40 acres. At the peak of the gathering, 846 vehicles were parked here.

Originally, Van Village was within an area closed to camping This site was adjacent to Bus Village and the Rainbows did not want to move. Because Van Village was so similar to Bus Village and there was no desire to impact another area, an amendment to Closure Order #04-92 rescinding the camping closure in this area was approved before the main gathering influx.

There was a major health concern over sanitation problems that occurred at Bus Village and Van Village Both areas were located on compacted gravel benches (a result of reservoir construction' with poor drainage. The large concentration of people (approximately 4200) in this area required that 21 latrines be constructed - which did not occur. Latrines that were constructed were not dug at flagged locations and some were too near open water. In addition, many people did not use the latrines and a large amount of surface deposition occurred along the edges and within the two villages. There were also concerns about lack of dumping facilities for self-contained vehicles.

MAIN MEADOW - The main meadow is the center of the gathering, where councils, communal meals and the peace vigil on July 4th, is held. Elk Park, approximately 1/2 mile west of Overland Reservoir was the main meadow for the 1992 gathering. Trails leading to camps and kitchens surrounding the meadow converged at the main circle.

KITCHENS - Thirty-five kitchens were in operation during the gathering. These areas served as social centers and were operated by volunteers. Somike popcorn, donuts, waffles and tea. Others prepared a variety of food.

Kitchens were distributed throughout the gathering area. Kitchens were open air structures built from dead and down logs and poles found on site. Large, usually blue, tarps covered these structures to protect the area from wet weather. Cooking was usually done over open fires in large rock lined pits. A few kitchens had ovens made out of 55 gallon drums which were set in rock and mud walls.

Sanitation was a major concern to the Rainbow Family, the Forest Service, and the State of Colorado and Delta County Health Departments. Health Department officials routinely visited kitchens to make sure minimum health standards were being met in food storage, preparation and serving. Most kitchens had a three-bucket dish washing system (hot soapy water, hot clear rinse, lukewarm chlorine rinse and hand washing station. Informative signing was posted to encourage proper use. Compost pits, gray water pits and recycling centers were also present at most kitchens. Large pots of boiling water were usually present, to provide safe water for cooking, cleaning and drinking.

Food was prepared and available at the kitchens during much of the day. A communal dinner was usually held each day at the main circle in Elk Park. Food was transported from the kitchens and served at the main circle.

FOOD - Little perishable food stuffs were used at the gathering with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables. Staple food items included beans, lentils, rice and potatoes. Most food was purchased with common funds and stored at a common supply area, where the family had some control. Kitchens received a daily allotment of food. If there were sanitation concerns in a given kitchen, they would not receive their food until the situation was corrected.

Many Rainbow members are vegetarians, however the Colorado Division of Wildlife detained one family member who was caught fishing with 40 fish over the limit in his possession. The fisherman stated he had been doing the same for several days. Four other individuals were also cited for fishing without a license. Wildlife officers also know of a road killed deer and a road killed porcupine that were taken into the gathering.

CAMPS-Camps varied from single tents, tipis or lean-tos, to small clusters scattered throughout the area surrounding Elk Park Many camps were formed by groups with common interests or beliefs Sisters' Camp, Faire Camp, Krishna Camp', or from common geographical areas (New England Regional Family [NERF Camp). Some camps were identified with banners and entrance gates

"A" Camp - Alcohol consumption is not condoned by the Rainbow Family and is discouraged within the main gathering . "A" Camp is usually set up outside the main gathering as a camp where people gather to drink. This camp is usually established along the access route to the main gathering, as was the case at this year s gathering. "A" Camp was located halfway between the intersection of FDR, 01 and, 05 and Overland Reservoir.

This camp has been a problem at past gatherings, because of its location. "A" campers would panhandle, extort money and confiscate liquor from people entering the gathering. "A" campers also harass curiosity seekers, law enforcement officers and other Forest Service personnel, which may be an ulterior motive for its location.

At this year's gathering, ."A" Camp disbanded around June 21. There was apparently problems with establishing a kitchen and campers had to commute to the Front Gate to eat. Lack of food and possibly law enforcement pressure caused "A" campers to move into the gathering. Many moved to a camp called No Name, located near the Front Gate. Some panhandling continued to be a problem in this area.

Several "A" campers also moved into a house in Paonia, the week of July 4th, and stayed there several weeks. Forest Service law enforcement officers assisted local police on several incidents of drunken/rowdy behavior at a local auction house and city park caused by "A" campers.

KIDDIE: VILLAGE - Each gathering has a Kiddie Village, specially designed for children. This is the day care center of the gathering, where parents could leave their children to attend workshops and councils. Volunteers, usually parents, watch the children, play games, read stories, and help with arts and crafts. Kiddie Village usually has it's own kitchen and latrine facilities.

PETS - Rainbow literature discourages bringing pets to gatherings; however, many gathering participants chose to ignore this request. Exact counts were not possible, but an estimated 4500 dogs were present, along with cats, several birds, lizards, two llamas and one goat. The goat was eaten during the gathering.

There were concerns about dogs chasing wildlife during the gathering and potential problems with abandoned animals after the gathering. Wildlife officers observed one dog chasing elk during the gathering. No dogs have been reported in the area since the Rainbow Family left.

Many dogs roamed freely around the gathering, with occasional fights occurring. There were no reports of dogs biting humans. Gathering participants commented to health department personnel that dogs are an increasing problem at gatherings.

BARTER AREA - The gathering is advertised as being non-commercial, where nothing should be sold. Many individuals offered wares for trade, ranging from tie-died clothes, leather crafts and jewelry, to feathers, rocks, shells and bundles of sage brush. Marijuana and drug paraphernalia was also openly bartered. The barter area at the 1992 gathering was along the main path between the front gate and the main meadow.


The Rainbow Family collects money donated by Family members and other supporters before and during the gathering. This money is recorded and kept in a Family 'bank". Funds are used to provide Family needs.

Rainbow Gathering 1992

Family needs, like: food. supplies, medical bills, bail, and rehabilitation materials. When funds are immediately needed, the magic hat" is passed to raise the required amount.

During the 1992 gathering at Overland Reservoir, several situations arose where Family funds were not always adequate, or forthcoming as promised. The North Fork Baptist Church donated 13 shovels to the Rainbow Family so they could dig latrines. A County Health Department employee provided the Family with 50 5-gallon buckets and 150 lb.. of sanitation lime, purchased out of his own pocket. Family members receiving medical attention at Delta County Removal Hospital resulted in billstotaling$10,900 after insurance coverage. The family said it only felt responsible for those patients referred by CALM ( 15 of 43) and paid $300. which did not even cover the referred patient bills. A promise of more money at a later date has not been fulfilled. CALM had informed the North Fork Ambulance Serene they would pay operating expenses on all Family authorized emergency services, however they only paid 2~'3 of these costs and felt no obligation for the remaining 531.50. The Forest Service identified the need for 1000 pounds of seed mix for reseeding disturbed sites - the Family only purchased 200 pounds.


The major confrontational incident of the 1992 Rainbow Tribal Family of Living Light Work Peace and Waling Gathering was the parking at Mule Park, described in section E. PARKING.

RUMORS - Rumors were a major problem throughout the gathering period, causing much public concern. Things like hundreds of abandoned vehicles along all access routes, poaching and over fishing, and worse, never materialized. The Public Affairs efforts to distribute daily updates to the media and area residents, and the weekly public meetings did much to reduce the local level of fear and anger and to diminish the misinformation.

WATER - All the water in the Overland Reservoir area belongs to the Overland Reservoir Ditch Shareholders. When the Rainbow Family began moving into the area, the Shareholders were extremely concerned about both water quality and water quantity. The Forest Service hydrologist determined that the total consumptive use by the Rainbow Family during the gathering would be approximately 1.4 acres. To quell the outcry over water theft, the Ditch Company president, Pete Kasper agreed to donate his water shares to the Family. The Family passed the magic hat and paid $300, with a promise of more later.

The water quality issue was addressed by establishing eight monitoring stations, where water samples were taken daily from June 17 to July 30. Discrepancies in lab technique resulted in conflicting data early on. Once the lab technique problem was corrected, all data revealed that the water quality of Overland Reservoir and surrounding tributaries was not impacted by the gathering.

BIRTHS - Three births occurred during the Rainbow gathering.

DEATHS - Two deaths, a married couple, were discovered in Bus Village on July 6. Autopsies determined the couple died of overdoses of the prescription drug Soma - a muscle relaxant. There was no evidence of foul play. There was also no indication whether the deaths were intentional or accidental.

ASSAULTS - Two assaults (one sexual) against women were reported during the gathering. A suspended assailant in one of the cases was apprehended by Shanti Sena, but later escaped. Suspects in both cases were never caught.

After the majority of gatherers returned home, the Delta County Sheriff’s Office received reports of three more sexual assaults against women at the gathering. The Sheriff's office is continuing to investigate the assaults.

TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS - Traffic violations were issued by Forest Service. Delta County Sheriff and Colorado State Patrol officers. Forest Service enforced 36 CFR 261.50(a) and ( b) concerning careless and reckless arising under Special Closure Order #03-92 and parking violations under Special Closure Orders #04-92, #05-92 and #06-99. County Sheriff and Colorado State Patrol officers enforced county and state ordinances. During the period the Rainbow Family was in the area. the following violations were issued to family members:

AgencyViolation NoticesWritten WarningsTowed VehiclesUnclaimed
Forest Service6167*172
Delta County Sheriff26040
Colorado State Patrol223043

Three stolen vehicles were recovered from the towed vehicles.

*(estimated 300 verbal warnings)

RESOURCE VIOLATIONS - Forest Service officers also enforced resource protection codes. One violation notice and 12 written warnings were issued for acts like driving into a wet meadow, littering, defacing government property, and pyrotechnic devices.

WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS - Colorado Division of Wildlife officers issued five written violations for fishing without a license. One arrest was made, three fines were collected in the field and one ticket for later payment was issued. Payment has not been made and a warrant has been issued. Twenty-four fisherman contacts were made during the gathering - twelve with Rainbow Family members. The rate of violations to Rainbow contacts was almost 50%. Normally, the rate of violations to fisherman contacts is only 1%.

CDOW personnel also seized feathers and talons on three occasions. All were associated with vehicle stops initiated by other law enforcement officers.

ARRESTS - A total of 43 Rainbow Family members were arrested during the gathering period (June 15 -July 15). The arrest breakdown follows:

Traffic Violations

Controlled Substance

Child Abuse



Disorderly/Concealed Weapon

Motor Vehicle Theft

Wildlife Violation

Outstanding Warrants










For comparison, arrests made in Delta County in 1991 for the period of June 15 through July 15, totaled 81. In 1992, the total number of arrests for the same period was 125.

VANDALISM AT INCIDENT COMMAND POST - On two occasions unknown individuals visited the ICP late at night when only two dispatchers were present. On the first occasion they only rattled the doors; the second time a number of windows were broken. As a result, a security person had to be added to the team.

GAS SKIPS - Delta County Sheriff deputies investigated four reported gas skips. In three cases, suspects were returned to the gas station and payment was made.

DEFRAUDING INN KEEPER - The KOA Campground, in Delta reported several individuals used their facilities without paying. The responsible parties were found and payment was made.

DRUGS - County officials and residents were extremely concerned there would be an increase in drugs in the area resulting from the Rainbow Family’s presence. This fear has not been realized; however 178 hits of LSD were found in a public restroom in Paonia, during the gathering period.

MISSING PERSONS - The Delta County Sheriffs office received requests to locate and check the welfare of five individuals, during the gathering. Two of these people were found. The Colorado State Patrol reported three juvenile runaways were returned home. During the gathering, the Incident Command Post received numerous requests to find missing persons and to locate individuals at the gathering. The Sheriffs office continued to receive similar requests two months after the gathering.

"JAIL OR BAIL" - During the early stages of the gathering, the Forest Service used a procedure called "Jail or Bail", which was also used at the two previous Rainbow Family gatherings. This procedure allowed officers to collect collateral forfeiture on the spot or the violator could be taken into custody and taken before the Magistrate. The violator did not give up higher right to appear in court and contest a violation by paying the fine. Verbal approval for this procedure was given by the U.S. Magistrate and the Assistant U.S. Attorney, in early June. This procedure was deemed necessary due to the transient nature of many Family followers and served as an effective deterrent, particularly in the case of careless reckless driving.

In early July, Rainbow Family members complained of this procedure to the U.S. Attorney, prompting the U.S. Attorney to recommend this procedure be altered. Beginning July 2, the new procedure required a violation notice for an optional appearance be issued if the violator could present sufficient identification (driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance in the same name as the driver). If adequate identification was not provided the violator could pay the fine or be detained, as before.

During the gathering(6/8 - 7/15), 52875 in collateral forfeiture was collected on 42 violation notices. An additional 25 violation notices with optional appearance were issued for a total of $1025. To date (9/18), 15 of these violation notices remain unpaid and warrants will be issued for the violators.

To compare the "Jail or Bail" procedure used by the Forest Service, to procedures used by other law enforcement agencies involved at the gathering:

- The Delta County jail has a capacity of 47. At the onset of the Rainbow gathering, 43 inmates were incarcerated. To reduce the potential impact to the local jail and reduce the cost of having to jail people in other facilities, the county opted to release violators

of non-violent crimes on Personal Recognizance Bonds in the amount of the associated fine.

- The Colorado Division of Wildlife operated under a procedure similar to the altered 'Jail or Ball" procedure. Fines u ere collected on site if no identification was presented violation notices were issued with adequate identification; suspects were taken into custody if fines were not paid The one ticket issued was not paid and a warrant has been issued.

- The Colorado State Patrol did not alter their ticketing procedures As of August 98 35 warrants had been issued for failure to appear in court.

WASHINGTON OFFICE STAFF VISIT - For the first time, Washington Office staff toured a Rainbow Family gathering site. Briar Beasley, Deputy Chief, visited with incident command team members to learn about gathering management and identified problems.


At the Vision Council held on July, of this year's gathering, the Rainbow Family consensed to holding the 1993 gathering in Kentucky.


The Rainbow Family gathering represented a doubling of Delta County’s population, and proved to be a cultural shock for many residents of this rural agricultural area.

Socially, the biggest issue w as the difference in personal values between Rainbow Family members and area residents. These differences frightened many, especially between the time when the communities first found out they were to be the location for the 1992 gathering and when family members began to arrive. Fear changed to anger, directed at both the Rainbow Family (for coming into the area uninvited) and the Forest Service (for letting them'. Not everyone shared these views, which resulted in divisiveness within local communities.

The large influx of people resulted in unusual lines at gas stations, convenience stores and grocery stores. Crowds congregated in downtown Paonia during the period before the main gathering. There were complaints of public urination, public nudity, panhandling and loitering. Similar complaints were reported in Delta and Hotchkiss.

The large law enforcement presence also had an impact on the local communities. Some complained about the numerous traffic stops, while others were grateful, feeling the presence deterred potential problems.

For the most part, the social impacts are with the Rainbow Family. One lingering impact is the feeling that the Forest Service applied a double standard to the Rainbow Family, by allowing them to gather without requiring a permit. Many people in the area are Forest users who are required to get permits for grazing, firewood, etc. They question whether it is appropriate to allow thousands of people to occupy an area of the National Forest without requiring some permit and remuneration for the impacts left behind.

Economically the gathering brought a brief economic boost to some local businesses. i.e. Natural Food Store, hardware store, grocery store. One local restaurant used Rainbow Power to build Improvements, in exchange for meals. Other businesses felt that local people stayed away from their business and towns because of the family members presence. Some businesses reported having to hire additional clerks and/or modify store hours, for security reasons, which may have had a greater economic cost. Sales tax revenues for Delta County were up for the gathering period.

As discussed in Chapter III, management costs for the 1992 Rainbow Family gathering were very high.

Colorado State Patrol

CO Div. of Wildlife

County Social Services

County Health Dept.

County Sheriff Dept.

County Hospital

Ambulance Service

Forest Service









In addition to the monetary costs, there were costs associated with planned work that did not get done because managers and funds were redirected to the gathering.


One of the overall management objectives for the Rainbow Family gathering was to minimize any negative environmental impacts on the site. Through daily monitoring and contacts with Rainbow Family members; Forest Service, health department and CDOW personnel were able to achieve this objective. Only 27 acres of the approximately 2500 acres effected by the gathering were impacted as a result of concentrated use on these locations. Impacts on resources in other areas were minimal.

As described earlier, water quality was monitored on a daily basis during the gathering period. Samples were taken from eight locations in and around Overland Reservoir. Samples were tested (or fecal coliform, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Erroneous data early in the sample period (June 17 :16), showed fecal coliform results at high levels, which was inconsistent with all other test results. Testing procedures were corrected and samples from July 1 through July 30 revealed the gathering had essentially no impact on water quality in and around Overland Reservoir.

The Rainbow Family used five springs to supply water to kitchens and campsites, during the gathering. Minimal development consisted of some enlargement of natural basins and laying piper ,n open water at each source. All evidence of human alteration was removed when the Family cleaned up the site.

During the main gathering (July 1-7), there were problems with latrines not being constructed in locations flagged by Forest Service and health department officials, poor marking of latrine locations by the Rainbow Family, and nonuse of latrines by Family members in several locations. deposition was a health concern, especially in and around Bus Village. These problems were brought

to CALM's attention and partially corrected. There was no evidence of surface deposition and all but a few latrines in remote locations were covered after clean up.

Soil compaction occurred where human use was concentrated: major trails, kitchens, camps and Bus Village. Vegetation was worn away in these areas. In many places, root crowns were not disturbed and vegetation regrowth was occurring as early as August 15; especially in organic soils. I-'se in the areas with good natural regrowth will not be evident next year. Minimal disturbance occurred in outlying parking areas: crushed and broken vegetation. This disturbance did not significantly reduce forage production on these sites, and will also not be evident by next sear. One individual drove into a wet meadow and was cited for resource damage.

Initially, the CDO\\ expected fisheries in the Overland Reservoir to be heavily impacted. This did not occur, likely as a result of enforcement of fishing regulations and the limited number of Family members observed fishing. Impacts to terrestrial wildlife were minimal as well. Though the area surrounding Overland Reservoir provides good big game habitat, the majority of gathering participants did not venture into timbered areas, where the elk and deer stayed. There was some evidence small mammals were taken, but not in numbers that impacted existing populations.

- There was a reduction of dead and down fuels in the gathering area as a result of cooking and camp fires. Family members used trees an>

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