Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rainbow Family: They come with jalopies and leave with the wind

From page A1 | May 10, 2013 | 17 Comments

A gathering of the Rainbow Family saw about 300 people camping in the Eldorado National Forest from April 25 to May 5.

“The Rainbow Family has been described as a loose knit group of people from very diverse backgrounds. Many in the group, however, refer to themselves as hippies,” wrote  Frank Mosbacher of the U.S. Forest Service in a press release. “The purpose of their gathering was to discuss political and environmental issues, pray for world peace and celebrate life. The Rainbow Family describes itself as having no leaders and no organization.”

The USFS was initially unaware that the California Regional Gathering of the Rainbow Family had chosen Eldorado National Forest for their gathering. By April 26, however, it was obvious. More than 150 people, adults and children alike, were camping east of Grizzly Flat near Caldor. “It’s not uncommon for the Rainbow Family not to notify the Forest Service before their gathering starts,” Mosbacher wrote.

This was the first time the Rainbow Family used Eldorado National Forest. Since 1972, they have appeared in national forests unannounced for their gatherings.

“On Saturday, April 27, an operating plan for the gathering was signed by Eldorado National Forest Supervisor Kathy Hardy and affirmed by a council of Rainbow Family participants,” Mosbacher wrote. The plan was meant to protect the public and the national forest and its resources. A small Forest Service incident management team was sent to oversee the gathering, for both law enforcement and resource preservation purposes. They also oversaw public safety.

USFS specialists visited the gathering several times. They insured that the plan was still in effect and understood by the gathering. A 24-hour watch was kept by 24 USFS enforcement officers and special agents.

Mosbacher noted that the gathering attracts all types of people. “Some people hitchhiked to the event. Some drove vehicles that ran out of gas, broke down and were involved in accidents,” he wrote, including one where a vehicle rolled and had to be uprighted with the help of others near Grizzly Flat. “These gatherings also attract drug dealers and criminal activities such as drug possession and use,” Mosbacher noted.

Although a Website announcing the gathering and giving directions told the Family to “Leave the abuse behind: Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, self abuse, pet abuse, family abuse — all abuse is discouraged,” USFS enforcement officers made more than 2,200 contacts resulting in eight arrests over the course of the gathering. The arrests were on charges of “drug possession, driving under the influence, outstanding warrants, possession of a short barrel shotgun and interfering with police officers,” Mosbacher wrote. They also assisted with one medical emergency, where a victim had to be taken by helicopter to a hospital, and located two missing persons.

“We worked daily to keep the local residents and cooperating agencies as informed as possible without attracting more people to the gathering,” Hardy was quoted in the press release. “We had to come up to speed with a proper response in a very short time. Overall, I believe everyone involved in managing the incident did an excellent job.”

A review will take place soon to see what lessons the USFS learned from the gathering, Hardy said, so that the organization can learn from its experience.

The Rainbow Family Gathering was concluded on May 5, with a cleanup effort by the group finished on May 8.


Discussion | 17 comments

  • Ben ThereMay 10, 2013 - 6:48 am

    I hope the Rainbow Family is going to be paying for the costs they incurred while they were gathered. If not, they are just a bunch of free loaders with fanciful ideas of how to fix the world while contributing to the constant downward spiral of debt placed upon the ever shrinking amount of tax payers...

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  • 1036-FrankMay 10, 2013 - 8:46 am

    So a large group of "people" show up and the forest circus does what? They rush out and issue a permit? What's wrong with this picture? This "group" isn't known to be law abiding in any way and I recall a woman from Tahoe ended up missing at one of these events and may have been murdered. So the forest circus closes all the OHV roads to the law abiding people and issues a permit to this bunch to use the public land?

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 10, 2013 - 9:09 am

    Many people in Pollock did not know--acouple went hiking with their families and were stopped and treated badly. We are a samll space--think about getting news to safeway--crystal view station--these places will let the population know quickly--so that locals are not afraid to go into the forest.

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  • reasonable robMay 10, 2013 - 11:09 am

    So each hippie was "contacted" an average of seven times while camping this week, children included. Such exemplary "service" from the staff.The audacity of these "citizens" expecting to camp in the woods without issuing prior notice. If each had arrived with a shotgun, 4WD and a case of beer they would have never been noticed.

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  • clleaMay 11, 2013 - 12:21 pm

    How right you are, reasonable Rob!

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  • bob VGMay 11, 2013 - 4:53 pm

    Are these Rainbow gatherings, still, just extended Acid trips?

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  • Top KatMay 12, 2013 - 5:29 pm

    What costs incurred? The folks on the land cleaned up all their own trash, plus several bags of trash and pounds of bullet casings that were already littered in the forest when they arrived. The only "costs" incurred would be ones the government unnecessarily spent by hiring dozens of uniformed officers to stop each car on the road, for a total of 2,200 car stops. The Forest Service was pleased with the final result of cleanup and will be issuing a letter of commendation to the family.

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  • Greg of the woodsMay 12, 2013 - 6:11 pm

    why were they contacted 2200 times. if a church group went and forgot to get a permit would they have been contacted that many times. and Ben There what costs they didn't ask to be harassed by those forest nazis rainbows clean there areas up each time and if anything Bring money to the areas they go DONT hear yah all complain about that huh .they bother the rainbows every time they show but no other groups thats called discrimination.

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  • Angela RainbowskyMay 12, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    First of all I am a service connected disabled veteran. This article does not explain, that this is a family of diverse people. Yeah, some of this article is true, but mostly because we are divers. Alcohol is not welcomed openly period. But you have alcoholics who can not go without drinking. In the main area of Rainbow land, there is no one allowed to have any alcohol. Drugs are everywhere period. they are called street kids, most come from broken homes. I went in the Military that I hate to this day, after serving 5 years in JAG. Lets talk about PEACE.

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  • RainbowskyMay 12, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    actually the annual town income gets increased greatly... I contribute to life not take it away. Ben There I am no free loader. May I ask, have you paid for the price of your freedom, have you served your country, risking your life for someone else. I have your a free loader.

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  • lily reinMay 12, 2013 - 8:05 pm

    Freeloaders? We rainbows are able to live a month at a time in the forests with no money. We are a family that sees the value in a shiny rock where most are stuck on the bills. We feed and care for each other through our own finances, donations from supporting groups and many farms that are throughout the united states. Thats part of it. We dont want to rely on our government when we are so very capable of caring for ourselves.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMay 12, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    I have no problem with the visitors--it was the forest police we wanted to know about--why so many? Again a young family was stopped in the forest and treated badly. We would just like to have the forest police let us know if we can go into the forest without being stopped. No one cared about the family being there.

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  • DocBMay 12, 2013 - 8:41 pm

    The Rainbow hippies are the very definition of the First Amendment. They are a peaceful group of very nice people who simply want to exercise their right to peacefully assemble without interference of the government. They have a long trackrecord of cleaning up after themselves and handing their own affairs. The US Forest Service causes far more problems than they manage or solve.

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  • KristinMay 13, 2013 - 8:37 am

    I am a retired deputy sheriff and have attended some of the rainbow events. Its quite nice actually. The group events I have attended were always incredibly respectful to the area/location in nature... Thats sorta their concern, the earth - that place we all reside. AND LIKE any group events, you will always have a few people who have their own vices that will ruin the impression of any group/event. It happens. As to the people on here stating this/that about taxes... Oh you all are so funny. Um, I pay taxes, hell I've paid them since my first job at 14 - I'm in my 40's now... My friends who go w/ me to the rainbow events are all employed white collar people... You could look at them an have NO IDEA that they come to rainbow events. These events TRULY bring people of ALL walks of life together. Get over it. Are you scared/bothered because its something different to you? I mean really, a bunch of people getting together in the woods an praying?? wow - how crazy.

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  • redlocksMay 13, 2013 - 8:02 pm

    One law enforcement officer per 12.5 people?!?! All that personal police attention for me and my son...ah, that's the "freeloading" perhaps? I suspect if the Forest Service contacted 300 people 2,200 times, at most other types of meetings on public land, over a course of days, that eventually eight arrests would also be made. With the so-called "budget crisis" and the "sequester" in Washington DC, it is odd that so much money is spent to infringe on people that wish to freely associate with whom they choose, and to practice our freedom of speech. We also wish to practice our religious freedom and/or follow our life's creed. And we are met with a consistent, organized effort of police intimidation no matter which piece of the People's land we meet...year after year after year... Who are the People that the Forest Service is supposed to be serving? Because it sure ain't us. For the record, I drove an old Prius. I neither ran out of gas, broke down or had a wreck.

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  • Curious mathMay 14, 2013 - 8:08 am

    So for 2,200 police interactions, 8 people were arrested? Let's see, that makes 275 police encounters for each one arrest. Seems like a lower crime rate than any city, concert, music festival, or even random assortment of people. We're talking several dozen police officers locking down a public road and searching every vehicle possible, for a crime rate of... 0.36%, less than half of ONE percent. Promise you, if the cops started searching every car on the highway there would be a lot more arrests than one in 275. This was unfair harassment and illegal discrimination.

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  • johnprawnAugust 09, 2013 - 6:49 pm

    The rainbow family came to my area about 15 years ago, a pristine beach on the west side of Vancouver Island B.C. Canada.Over 400 hundred earth lovers left a terrible mess of garbage and human excrement, that took locals and first nation groups months to clean up, Now they are planning to do it again on a pristine beach on the north of the island. There is much resistence and I hope it doesn't happen!

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