Ranchers fume as ‘Rainbow Family’ set to camp on federal land in Oregon

From The Westerner Blog

The U.S. Forest Service acknowledged there isn’t much it can do about a “Rainbow Family” gathering expected to bring thousands of counter-culture types to the Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon over the next two weeks.

The organizers don’t have a permit, and the Forest Service’s response to that has angered area residents such as rancher Loren Stout, who lives near the gathering spot and has a federal grazing permit on land adjacent to it. He said the Forest Service would punish ranchers if they ignored permit requirements and tapped a spring for drinking water like the Rainbow Family has done.

Stout said it took him two years to get a National Environmental Policy Act permit to drill an exploratory mining hole.

“People are furious over this,” Stout said. “Not because it’s a friggin’ bunch of hippies, it’s the different standards.”

An estimated 500 to 700 people have already set up camp at Flagtail Meadow off of Forest Road 24, near the towns of Seneca and John Day. The 46th annual National Rainbow Gathering could draw 15,000 to 20,000 July 1-7, and is being held without a permit required of anyone else who would want to stage such an event on federal forest land.

Ryan Nehl, deputy Forest Service supervisor on the Malheur and the agency administrator for the event, planned to take a permit form to organizers at the gathering spot June 21.

“I don’t have a lot of faith they will sign it,” Nehl said. In that case, the Forest Service will impose an operational plan for the gathering to follow, and could take action if those conditions are violated…more

 

 

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