PRESS RELEASE: Forest Service, Mark Rey Announces Legal Accommodation for Rainbow Gathering

(by friends of Rainbow press crew)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 30, 2008

Contacts: Barry Adams, Grapevine messenger, 406-542-0331

Forest Service, Mark Rey Announces Legal Accommodation for Rainbow Gathering

MISSOULA, MT –– In a statement released Wednesday, Undersecretary of Agriculture, Mark Rey, indicated that the Forest Service will recognize this year’s Annual Rainbow Gathering as a unique recreational event, rather

than an illegal activity. This comes after several months of phone conferences between Rey, Forest Service personnel, and individual gatherers.

Rey’s statement sets forth guiding principles for the Forest Service’ management approach for the 2008 Wyoming Gathering, expected to take place on national forest lands from July 1-7. According to the statement, the Forest Service “will implement the following process to facilitate a Gathering in accordance with the Forest Service Regulations,” indicating that this will make the Gathering a fully legal event.

This shift in policy comes after decades of legal conflicts between Forest Service and gatherers over the “permit issue.” Since 1984, a series of Forest Service regulations have prohibited large gatherings, or noncommercial group uses, unless a Forest Service permit is signed by an agent of the group. Gatherers objected to this requirement, arguing that it effectively outlaws Rainbow-style gatherings because they are not sponsored by a group, but consist of diverse individuals who come together as a “Peaceable Assembly for purposes of expression.” As such, no specific individuals can speak on behalf of a Gathering or sign on as “an agent of the group.” Instead, Gatherings use a distinctive, Rainbow-style consensus process using open circles on the land to coordinate activities and address concerns among whoever happens to show up in a given year.

A similar statement was issued last year, prior to the 2007 Annual Gathering in Arkansas, but required further refinement after numerous complaints by gatherers concerning continued harsh treatment by Forest Service Law Enforcement officers. Arkansas attendees reported that officers undercut the fledgling effort at cooperation by drawing weapons on volunteers, using pepper spray and tasers, engaging in unannounced searches, photographing children of gatherers, and performing heavily armed patrols when no public safety threat was present. The new guidelines for Wyoming 2008 address these grievances by improving the description of the cooperative process to be used between the Forest Service and gatherers, eliminating any plans for a “declaration of emergency” by the Forest Service, and including a commitment by Law Enforcement to meet with gatherers daily to communicate and address possible concerns of either party.

In addition, the statement outlines an alternative manner of regulating the event without a permit by developing a cooperative Operating Plan to address the health, safety, environmental and social concerns associated with large gatherings. Rey has appointed Ranger Tom Florich of Wyoming to be the administrator of the Operating plan process. Florich will also act as a “legal liaison” to help resolve any potential problems between Incident Command Law Enforcement and gatherers.

According to Rey’s statement, “The Gathering will be managed through the Forest Service Incident Command System for the purpose of addressing social and resource impacts,” rather than invoking an emergency declaration. Longtime gatherer, Barry Adams, is hopeful that this will “open ingress and egress to the local stores, towns, where it is well-known the “Rainbow Gathering” tourists spend a lot of cash.” According to Adams, “Gatherings are good for local economies in distress. Gatherers spend a lot of money going to and from to these Gatherings.”

This will be the third Rainbow Gathering to take place in Wyoming, where similar events happened in 1973 and 1994. Gatherers enjoyed a warm welcome in 1994, and some have already begun contacting the Wyoming Governor’s office and other State officials to help pave the way for a positive event. Other gatherers remain skeptical about the new agreement and are taking a “wait and see attitude” after the years of difficulty between Rainbows and Law Enforcement.

An Invitation to the 2008 Wyoming Gathering reads: “We, who are brothers and sisters, children of God, families of life on Earth, friends of Nature and of all People, children of Humankind, calling ourselves Rainbow Family Tribe, humbly invite: all races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals — out of love; all nations and national leaders — out of respect; all religions and religious leaders — out of faith; all politicians – out of charity; all ecolutionaries – out of solidarity; to join with us in Gathering together for the purpose of expressing our sincere desire that there shall be peace on Earth and harmony among all people.”

Attachments:
Undersecretary Mark Rey Letter, May 28, 2008
An Invitation, Annual Gathering of the Tribes (hosted) by Rainbow Family Tribe

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Attachments:

1. Subject: Text of Mark Rey Letter to Annual Gathering May 28, 2008

United States Department of Agriculture
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20250
USDA

MAY 28 2008

To All:

As we prepare for the 2008 Annual Rainbow Family Gathering in Wyoming, several Gathers have suggested that it would be helpful to again clarify the Forest Service’s approach to the 2008 Gathering:

The Agency’s authority to require group use permits is in place and has been upheld by the Courts. However, the Forest Service does have discretion with respect to the enforcement of this authority. Pursuant to that discretion and a previously negotiated protocol recognizing the unique nature of the Rainbow Family, we will implement the following process to facilitate a Gathering in accordance with the Forest Service Regulations:

1. The Forest Service has forwarded several sites on the National Forests in Wyoming for the participants in the 2008 Gathering to consider as gathering sites.

2. The participants in the 2008 Gathering will select 2 or 3 alternate locations for the Forest Service to consider as soon as possible. Initial scouting of sites is being done in cooperation with local Forest Service personnel.

3. The Forest Service will quickly evaluate the sites (if other than the recommended Forest Service sites) and give the participants in the 2008 Gathering an answer on suitability before Spring Council.

4. Beginning at Spring Council and after a site has been mutually agreed upon, an operating plan would be prepared in advance of the Gathering in collaboration with the participants in the 2008 Gathering. The plan would be subject to mutual modifications as the Gathering sets up. For this purpose the Forest Service is committed to meeting on the land daily with Gathers involved with the 2008 Gathering during the Gathering.

5. No permit would be issued. The Forest Service would exercise its discretion and refrain from any enforcement of a permit requirement provided that the operating plan is followed. Failure to comply with the operating plan will result in enforcement of the current regulations.

6. All laws will be enforced on the National Forests similar to other recreation gatherings and forest visitor use.

7. The Gathering will be managed thru the Forest Service Incident Command System for the purpose of addressing social and resource impacts.

Please feel free to circulate within the region and with Gathers involved with the 2008 Gathering. Welcome home.

(sg) Mark Rey
MARK. REY

————————————-

2. INVITATION for WYOMING – JULY 1-7, 2008 37th “ANNUAL GATHERING of the TRIBES”
w/ “RAINBOW FAMILY TRIBE”

“On July 1-7, 2008, somewhere on public land, in the State of Wyoming, hopefully on acres of land set up for the purpose – there is going to be a Gathering for all people – worldwide, and the Invitation reads:

We, who are brothers and sisters, Children of God, families of life on Earth, friends of Nature and of all People, children of Humankind, calling ourselves Rainbow Family Tribe, humbly invite:

all races, peoples, tribes communes, men, women, children, individuals — out of love,
all nations and national leaders — out of respect,
all religions and religious leaders — out of faith,
all politicians — out of charity
all ecolutionaries – out of solidarity

to join with us in Gathering together for the purpose of expressing our sincere desire that there shall be Peace one Earth, Harmony among all People. This Gathering to take place beginning July 1-7, 2008, and to hold open worship, prayer, chanting or whatever is the want or desire of the people, for three days, but upon the Fourth Day of July to ask that there be a meditative, contemplative silence wherein we, the Invited People of the World may consider and give honour and respect to anyone or anything that has aided in the positive ecolution of humankind and nature upon this, out most beloved and beautiful World — Asking blessing upon we people of this World and hope that we people can effectively proceed to evolve, expand, and live in harmony and peace. Om Shanti Amen”
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May 10, 2009. Uncategorized.

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