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
00-1360-R (LEI)

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 your request.

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 the FOIA.

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. 552(b)(6).

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.


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
Incident Commander
National Incident Team






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
Finance                                                   28
Plans                                                     30
Logistics                                                 35
Communications                                            37


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

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.



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