Forest Service confirms discussions with Rainbow Family Gathering; closure order remains in effect; provides information on law enforcement actions

Friday afternoon, Hilary Markin, a public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service, responded to lassennews.com’s request for current information regarding the Rainbow Family Gathering at Indian Creek on the Plumas National Forest just beyond the Diamond Mountain summit.

Rainbow Family Gathering campsites in the trees well off the road.

Conversation between the Forest Service and the Rainbow Family Gathering
Markin confirmed our previous reporting that conversations were going on between the Forest Service and the Rainbow Family Gathering. Click here to see that lassennews.com story from earlier today.

“We’ve heard there’s a potential the Rainbow Family is going to move to another site, but it’s still a developing situation,” Markin said. “There’s a lot happening on the ground that we’ll get notice of later today. We’re still enforcing the closure order that’s in place, and we still have our checkpoints established. We’re turning people around who are trying to get into that area unless they’re authorized to be in there. That’s still in place.”

Lassennews asked Markin who the National Forest was talking with since the group alleges they have no leaders or spokespersons and that every family member speaks strictly for themselves and for that reason, no one is authorized to speak for the group.

More Rainbow Family Gathering campsites well off the road.

“That’s a good question,” Markin said given the structure of the group, but she said she did not have any information about the identity of the participants.

Lassennews visited the Indian Creek site last week and noted some members of the supposedly leaderless group were creating the infrastructure necessary to support an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, so someone, contrary to Rainbow Family Gathering statements, must be leading this thing because the creation of the infrastructure such as the hundreds of feet of water lines in Indian Creek leading to multiple locations around the site appears to have been planned and not some random action performed by some random person.

“Our challenge is to prove,” Markin said. “We’re asking people who have seen that or are witnesses to that. We need the names and information so we can cite them for damaging natural resources or whatever those infractions are, based upon our rules and regulations. We have a team of investigators who are looking into that and building upon previous investigator cases, too.”

Lassennews also noted one of the members of the supposedly leaderless group appeared at a meet and greet at Susanville’s Memorial Park also appeared in an interview in an old YouTube video on the group.

Is the Rainbow Family Gathering seeking a permit?
“Anybody who’s going to visit a National Forest who’s looking to have a noncommercial group use event of 75 or more is required to come talk to us getting a special use permit or fill out that special use permit application, and so that’s something that will continue,” Markin said. “If they do go to a new location we fully intend to pursue that special use permit with them.”

Law enforcement actions
Lassennews.com also asked about law enforcement actions at the site.

Markin said since Monday, June 17 (when citations began to be issued) there have been 113 law enforcement actions, including 39 incident reports (something that happened that needed to be documented), 55 of those were written warnings, 14 violation notices (tickets), one state infraction (issued as a citation) and four arrests (traffic violation, damage to natural resources, controlled substances, and a felon in possession).

Mirkin said the Forest Service estimates as of yesterday there are still about 400 people on the site. She said the group at its largest was estimated to be 561 individuals. She said the Forest Service hopes they will comply with the Forest Service closure order in place and be off the site today.

“We have the discretion to cite folks for violations of that order and other infractions law enforcement officers may see,” Markin said.

She said the Forest Service recognizes the inappropriateness of the site for such a gathering.

“We recognize that and that’s why the order’s in place, and for anybody to go up there now is not allowed for the protection of those natural resources, public health and safety and upholding the permitted uses that are already authorized in that area,” Markin said.