United States Forest Washington 14th & Independence SW
Department of Service Office P.O. Box 96090
Agriculture Washington, DC DC 20090-6090
File Code: 6270-1 - 1
Date FEB 1 7 2000
Mr. William Thomas
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, DC 20038
Dear Mr. Thomas:
This is our final response to your Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) telephone request to Sherry Turner of the FOIA group
on February 4, 2000 Enclosed are 100 pages responsive to your
request for a copy of the following:
1. All documents relating to the 1999 Gathering of the
Tribes, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania, which took place
near and around the 4th of July 1999, by USDA Forest Service,
or other associated agencies.
Enclosed is a copy of the " 1999 National Rainbow
Family Gathering Final Action Report"; 83 pages of which
are being released in entirety, and 12 pages of which are being
released with portions withheld pursuant to Exemptions 3, 6, 7(C),
and 7(E) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3), (6), (7)(C), (7)(E).
Also enclosed are 2 pages of Violation Notices which are
being released with portions withheld pursuant to Exemptions 6
and 7(C) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6), (7)(C).
One page is being withheld in its entirety pursuant to
Exemption 7(A) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(A)
2. All documents relating to the upcoming 2000 Gathering
of the Tribes, Montana/Idaho Region, including any memos or other
documents available to the public at this time, by USDA Forest
Service and associated agencies.
Enclosed are 3 pages; 1 page is being released in entirety
and 2 pages are being released with portions withheld pursuant
to Exemptions 6 and 7(C) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6), (7)(C).
No additional records were found responsive to this portion of
One responsive document (4 pages) was found which was generated
by the Montana Division of (criminal investigations; intelligence
Bulletin Volume 1, Issue 4, dated December 1999. We have referred
your request and the responsive document to the Montana Division
of Criminal Investigations for release determination. They will
respond directly to you. For your information, their address is:
Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, 3rd Floor, Scott
Hart Building, 303 N. Roberts, Helena, MT 59620-14114.
Caring for the Land and Serving
People Printed on Recycled Paper
Exemption 3 permits the Government to withhold information
that is prohibited from disclosure by a statute. We have determined
that the portions withheld contain detailed descriptions and locations
of historic preservation sites which are protected under the Historic
Preservation Act of October 15, l 966. (P.L. 89-665, 80 Stat.
915 as amended; 16 U.S.C. 470, 470-1, 470a, 470f, 470h, 470h-1,
470h-2, 470i, 470j, 470v, 470w-3).
Exemption 5 of the FOIA provides for protection of inter-agency
or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available
by law to a party in litigation with the agency. The most commonly
invoked privilege incorporated within Exemption 5 is the deliberative
process privilege, which includes protection of opinions, recommendations,
and deliberations. We have determined that the release of an employee's
opinion would stifle honest and frank communication. Therefore,
this information has been withheld pursuant to Exemption 5 of
Exemption 6 permits the Government to withhold all information
about individuals in "personnel and medical files and similar
files," where the disclosure of such information "would
constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Exemption 6 also involves a balancing of the public's interest
in disclosure against the individual's privacy interest, 5 U.S.C.
Exemption 7(C) permits the Government to withhold records
or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only
to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records
or information could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted
invasion of personal privacy 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(C). We have determined
that the release of an individual's name, home address, home telephone
number, date of birth driver's license number, and social security
number would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
Therefore, this information has been withheld pursuant to Exemptions
6 and 7(C) for the FOIA.
Exemption 7(A) permits the Government to withhold "records
or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only
to the extent that the production of such records or information".
. . could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement
proceedings." We have determined that the release of a 1-page
letter pertaining to open investigation cases would be premature
and could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement
proceedings. Therefore, the record is being withheld pursuant
to Exemption 7(A) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(A).
Exemption 7(E) permits the Government to withhold information
that "would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement
investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for
law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure
could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law."
5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(E). Disclosing the information about law enforcement
staffing and radio frequencies would disclose law enforcement
techniques that could result in the circumvention of the law."
Therefore, the information has been withheld pursuant to Exemption
7(E) of the FOIA.
Pursuant to Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR),
Subtitle A, Part l, Subpart A, Appendix A, there is no charge
for the records enclosed because requesters receive the first
100 pages free of charge.
The FOIA provides you the right to appeal this decision. Any
appeal must be made in writing to the Chief, USDA Forest Service,
P.O. Box 96090, Mail Stop 1143, Washington, DC 20090-6090, within
45 days from the date of this letter. The term "FOIA APPEAL"
should be placed in capital letters on the front of the envelope.
WILLIAM F. WASLEY
Law Enforcement and Investigations
United States Forest Washington 14th & Independence SW
Department of Service Office P.O. Box 96090
Agriculture Washington, DC DC 20090-6090
File Code: 5300/2700
Date: July 12, 2000
Subject; 1999 Rainbow Family Gathering Allegheny National Forest
To: John Palmer, Allegheny National Forest Supervisor
Attached is the final report summarizing the incident management
activities that took place during the 1999 Rainbow Family Gathering
on the Allegheny National Forest during June and July, 1999.
If you have any questions, please call me at (406) 329
3114. On behalf of the National Incident Management Team, you
for all the support you and the Allegheny National Forest personnel
provided during this incident. We enjoyed working with you.
William C. Fox
National Incident Team
1999 NATIONAL RAINBOW FAMILY
ALLEGHENY NATIONAL FOREST
MARIENVILLE RANGER DISTRICT
FINAL ACTION REPORT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary i
National Incident Management Team Information
Rainbow Family Background 1
1999 Site Selection 2
Past Management Approaches 4
Current Management Strategy 5
1999 Incident Management Objectives 6
Team Contacts 7
Delegation of Authority 8
Unified Command 8
Closeouts and Critiques 9
Command and General Staff Reports Safety 10
Public Affairs/Information 15
Law Enforcement Operations 18
Appendix 1. Safety Matrix
Appendix 2. Visits to Community Medical Facilities (complaints)
Appendix 3 Visits to Community Medical Facilities (number of visits)
Appendix 4. Pennsylvania State Police - Statistics by Date
Appendix 5. Forest Service Law Enforcement - Statistics by Date
Appendix 6. Pre-Incident Surveys and Assessments
Appendix 7. Water Quality Monitoring
Appendix 8. Rehabilitation Plan
Appendix 9. Photo Documentation
1999 NATIONAL RAINBOW FAMILY GATHERING
JULY 12, 1999
The 1999 National Rainbow Family Gathering was held at
the Bear Creek area on the Marienville Ranger District of the
Allegheny National Forest, Elk County, in northeastern Pennsylvania.
site was six air miles west of the community of Ridgway, Pennsylvania
The Incident was managed by the National Incident Management Team
from an Incident Command Post at the Sheffield Work Center in
Sheffield, Pennsylvania. The Work Center is located midway between
the most affected community of Ridgway and the Allegheny National
Forest Supervisor's Office in Warren, Pennsylvania
The National Incident Management Team was formed in late
1997. The Team consists of seven core members structured after
a Incident Command System "short" team. The 1999 Rainbow
Family National Gathering was the team's second formal assignment
as the agency's response to large group events with social issues
that differ from wildland fires incidents.
The Rainbow Family had indicated their choice of Pennsylvania
late in the summer of 1998. This information was posted on their
"unofficial" web page and provided through telephone
hotlines in a variety of states. The exact location of the Gathering
site was not posted on their web page until about June 14, 1999.
The Rainbow Family held its Spring Council over Memorial
Day weekend in the Queen's Creek area northwest of Warren. The
specific site for the National Gathering is traditionally selected
during Spring Council. Historically, gathering sites are forested,
high altitude areas with large, open meadows, but the Allegheny
National Forest had few spots with these characteristics. The
Team moved to the Sheffield Work Center as members of the Family
began to move toward the Bear Creek area.
The Law Enforcement and Information branch of the Team
accomplished extensive pre-work beginning in November of 1998
in a meeting with Allegheny Forest leadership, and Pennsylvania
law enforcement officials on Federal, State, county, and local
levels. Team members also briefed the Northeastern Regional Forester
and staff, and representatives from congressional and gubernatorial
offices in March of 1999. Through this extensive pre-work, cooperative
relationships formed early and led to successful interagency partnerships
to manage the effects of the gathering in the various jurisdictions
affected by the incident.
Existing contacts and networks developed by the Forest
Service were utilized to inform the public in Pennsylvania. Local
relationships built by the Allegheny National Forest Supervisor,
the Public Affairs Officer and the Marienville District Ranger
facilitated introductions and meetings, and the Team's Information
office provide daily updates to keep the closest affected residents
informed of the expectations for social and resource impacts resulting
from the incident. Congressional, media and public interest in
the event was high. Pennsylvania State Police held public meetings
in Warren, Ridgway, Johnsonburg and Lake City and invited Incident
Team members to share information at these meetings.
Marienville Ranger District and Allegheny National Forest
Supervisor's Office resource personnel documented pre-gathering
conditions at the site, monitored the resource damage during the
event, and developed a rehabilitation plan to restore the area
Impacts included soil compaction in forested and meadow areas
from heavy use on existing and new trails and thousands of dispersed
camping sites in the area, constructing slit trench latrines and
road and riparian degradation. In addition, historic sites in
the gathering area were damaged.
Water became a serious issue again during this gathering,
but unlike the theft of water from privately held springs by 1998
gathering attendees, health was the biggest concern at the 1999
Bear Creek site. Pour of the springs used for drinking and cooking
water tested high for total bacteria including fecal coliform
and two tested high for E. cold bacteria. A piping system diverted
water to various collection points. The Rainbow Family attempted
to warn others of the unsafe water, but family members were seen
drinking directly from the springs.
Several attempts to convince Rainbow Family members to
apply for the Noncommercial Large Group Use Permit were unsuccessful.
On July 2, 1999, two people were cited for unauthorized use of
National Forest System lands. Another was cited July 5, 1999.
At the initial appearance on July 8, 1999, before the Federal
Magistrate in Erie, Pennsylvania, all three pled not guilty and
requested a trial before the Federal Magistrate.
The climax of the gathering was July 4, 1998, with approximately
19,000 attendees. By July 5th, many hat left the area. Northwestern
Pennsylvania experience three days of very hot, humid weather
that gripped the entire northeastern United States. As the heat
wave broke, severe thunderstorms with heavy rain pummeled the
gathering site. One gathering attendee was hit by lightning on
July 8. July 9 and 10, 1999, brought more severe thunderstorms
and tornado warnings. The intense rain made the main trails and
the main meadow muddy and slippery.
As rain and cooler temperatures persisted, most gathering
participants were gone by July 11. The Incident Team resumed active
management of the incident back to the Allegheny National Forest
on July 12, 1999.
NATIONAL INCIDENT TEAM
Rainbow Family Background
Since 1972. the Rainbow Family of Living Light has held
national and regional gatherings on National Forest System lands.
The climax of the national gathering is a day of honoring Mother
Earth and praying for world peace. According to the Rainbows,
the first attendees were Vietnam veterans who had a difficult
time reentering mainstream society because of their war experiences
and people who were part of the 1960's hippie and environmental
movements. Early gatherings were much smaller, an estimate from
the 1986 gathering at Queen's Creek/Heart's Content near Warren,
Pennsylvania, was 5000 attendees.
In the Rainbow philosophy, "everyone is a Rainbow,
some just don't know it yet. and "anyone with a bellybutton
can be a Rainbow". They are of all ages from all parts of
society. The Rainbows espouse and teach their concept of Constitutional
rights. It is anti-authoritarian and conflicts with the requirement
to obtain a permit for a large gathering on public lands and enforcement
of Federal, State and local laws. The Rainbows also call their
selected national gathering site their church and resent law enforcement
presence in the area'
Core Rainbow Family members state they are bound together
by their common belief and desire for peace, love and respect
for planet Earth and all its inhabitants. This collection of core
members reflect a great deal of diversity. Some are regularly
a part of mainstream society and some still live the hippie life-style.
Some are college or graduate level educated with professional
or technical skills, some are high school dropouts who only work
sporadically and some are chronically homeless.
The Rainbow Family states they have no formal charter or
organization and that all Rainbows are equal and no one speaks
for the entire family. Rainbow family decisions are made at council
meetings which occur throughout the year at regional and national
gatherings. Family issues, decisions and actions are discussed
at councils with decisions made only if consensus is reached among
those attending council. Even with a decision, no Rainbow will
sign a written version of the decision such as a rehabilitation
plan. Their decisions can change at any time through a council
meeting and consensus.
In recent years, however, gathering attendees barely reflect
the original founders of 27 years ago. The gatherings appear to
have a much younger demographic with the majority of attendees
25 years or younger who come to "party". Some present
and former gathering attendees contend the core Rainbow group
has lost control of this younger crowd. There was more garbage
such as foodstuffs, trash and clothing left behind at the 1999
gathering, ostensibly for the clean up crew of Rainbow Family
members to deal with. This seems to support the lack of "pack
it out" ethics in these younger attendees. There is more
observable conflict as the core Rainbow group tries to influence
the behaviors of these younger gathering participants. Some younger
people attracted to the gatherings are juvenile runaways.
Recent gatherings are also attracting more of a criminal
element. Rainbows claim to love everyone criminals are in need
of healing. As a result, there are no detrimental consequences
to criminal activity outside the gathering. Although the Rainbows
try to separate physically and philosophically from the use of
alcohol, they believe marijuana and mushrooms are healing herbs
and the use of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, methamphetamine
and others is common. The separated alcohol users and abusers
present a dangerous and erratic presence to the gatherings. Rainbow
Family members are approaching Law Enforcement Officers more frequently
with complaints about "A-Camp", but seem unwilling to
approach the alcohol users themselves.
Significant criminal activity which has occurred at past
gatherings includes homicides, sexual assault, theft, stolen vehicles
and the distribution and use of controlled substances. Ironically,
the Rainbows attempt to self police using a group called the Shanti
Sena (peace keepers), but they become ineffective as the gathering
swells in number. The Shanti Sena has turned individuals over
to authorities in past gatherings, but they selectively enforce
rules and laws according to the general beliefs of the Rainbows.
In 1999, two fugitives from other states were recovered with no
involvement by the Shanti Sena.
The resource impacts on National Forest System lands also
presents an interesting conflict within Rainbow philosophy. The
Rainbows teach respect for Mother Earth and offer low impact information
on their web page. However, they welcome all attendees and resource
damage grows as the numbers swell. As one Los Angeles Times reporter
wrote: "Within the various camps, signs are posted regarding
respect for the streams, forest and grasslands. But, these messages
are invariably affixed by nails hammered into trees. 1/
Typical Rainbow Family Gathering resource impacts include
large areas of soil compaction from thousands of small camps,
parking areas and the development of new trails, large fire pits
and makeshift structures built for the camps and kitchens, holes
dug for slit trench latrines, degradation of the forest roads
accessing the gathering, damage to riparian areas and effects
to water quality. Since the national (fathering is also held in
June and July, fire danger can be an issue at sites in the western
United States. Some Rainbows stay behind to help in rehabilitating
the site, which generally takes two weeks to a month.
1999 Site Selection
During the 1998 national gathering, the Rainbows held a
"Vision Council" from July I to July 7 and decided that
Pennsylvania would be the state for the 1999 national gathering.
In early spring 1999, Rainbow scouts were traveling in Pennsylvania
and Vermont to search for the specific site. Generally, the site
criteria calls for a forested area with a large meadow for their
ceremonies and celebrations, accessible water for drinking I and
cooking, and fairly easy access by road. The Allegheny National
Forest does not offer a site with these characteristics.
Traditionally in early June, the Rainbows hold Spring Council
where the scouts report of possible sites and a decision is made
by consensus on a specific area for the national gathering. Directions
to the selected site l are posted on the Rainbow web page and
recorded onto national phone hotlines. These are usually fairly
serious decision making meetings. The 1999 Spring Council was
held in the Queen's Creek area of the l Allegheny National Forest
over the Memorial Day weekend, much earlier than in past years.
As the Spring l Council broke up, they had not reached a decision
on a specific site for the gathering and appeared to be l unable
to make the consensus process work.
1/ Rainbow Family Encampment Tests Meaning of 'Public
Lands', Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1998.
The Spring Council attendees migrated to the Bear Creek
area in early June. Most arrived by June 10, 1999. and were immediately
joined by other gathering attendees. From the start, there were
complaints from Rainbow Family members about the Bear Creek site.
There was a large, marshy area near Bear Creek which ran through
the middle of what the Rainbow designated as their main meadow.
Vegetation was thick and knee high, with few flat spots for campsites.
In addition, the Bear Creek area was inhabited by black bears,
and was an important denning site for the eastern timber rattlesnake,
a protected species in Pennsylvania. Parking areas were inadequate
and the family members were forced to carry supplies about 1 1/2
miles into the main meadow area.
For days, Rainbow family members seemed confused about
where the main meadow would be, where they would locate their
CALM unit and where they would set up Kiddie Village. This confusion
remained through the third week in June, as members discussed
moving the main meadow out of the Bear Creel; riparian area and
some even suggested moving the whole gathering to another location.
1999 Forest Service Rainbow Gathering
Report, Part 2