The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, June 28, 2017, Page A6, Image 6

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Rainbow Gathering
Blue Mountain Eagle
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
DA dispensing swift sentences to visitors
Crime not as high as anticipated
By Rylan Boggs
Blue Mountain Eagle
Rainbow Gathering attend-
ees convicted of crimes out-
side the forest will face swifter
sentences in the Grant County
court system.
Grant County District At-
torney Jim Carpenter said tem-
porary visitors to the county
will receive executed sentenc-
es instead of probationary sen-
tences. Instead of being issued
probation for a crime, they will
receive jail time.
Carpenter said he is not in-
terested in keeping transients
in the area on probation and
would prefer to have them
serve their sentence and con-
tinue on.
Jayson Thompson, 30,
Ohio was found guilty of
third-degree theft after he at-
tempted to steal beer from
Chester’s Thriftway.
Thompson as “essentially a
Under normal circumstanc-
es, Thompson would have
been issued a sentence with a
period of probation. Instead,
he received seven days in jail
and a $100 fi ne.
Noah De Stefano, who was
arrested after a stabbing at a
Rainbow Gathering Spring
Council meeting earlier this
as many as I thought there
would have been,” Carpenter
said. “People there seem to do
a pretty good job of self-polic-
Forest Service and local
law enforcement offi cials have
arrested a number of people re-
lated to the gathering who are
making their way through the
court system.
month, was convicted of
fourth-degree assault Tuesday.
He was sentenced to 180 days
in jail and ordered to pay about
$4,000 in restitution, a $2,000
fi ne and $500 in attorney fees.
However, crime related to
the Rainbow Gathering hasn’t
been as high as Carpenter an-
“There really hasn’t been
Heated exchange erupts at meeting Ranchers fume as the
‘Rainbow Family’ to
camp on federal land
Concerns about
local economy,
EO Media Group
By Rylan Boggs
Blue Mountain Eagle
The Eagle/Rylan Boggs
Ken Mayhead, left, demands to know how the Rainbow Gathering will benefit Grant
County while Rainbow Gathering attendee Kathleen Todd, right, waits to respond.
bringing drugs and problems
related to substance abuse
into the area and said she no
longer felt safe walking at
Stubbs said some of the
people gathering were drug
users, but the gathering was
dedicated to helping people.
He described Serenity Ridge,
a drug- and alcohol-free
camp at the gathering, which
holds 12-step meetings.
One major concern voiced
by people was attendees
from the gathering staying
until the eclipse in August.
The attendees at the meeting
said they could not speak for
the group, but the general
sentiment was that many at
the gathering would be going
to the Oregon Country Fair
near Veneta in early July.
Residents also asked why
the group chose a forest near
a community that had re-
cently been ravaged by wild-
fi re. Rainbow participants
acknowledged the Canyon
Creek Complex fi re and said,
because they mostly cooked
with fi res and wood stoves,
they actually helped elimi-
nate fi re danger by removing
downed wood.
Multiple attendees assert-
ed it was their constitutional
right to assemble on public
Resident Susan Church
said a great part of the fear
was due to xenophobia. She
said the local community
had problems with crime and
substance abuse just like the
Rainbow Gathering.
Gathering participant El-
oisa Lewis said attendees
rented the hall to communi-
cate with locals and to try to
get them involved. She said
the meeting had been “luke-
warm” and that both sides
seemed afraid of each other.
Lewis extended an in-
vitation to all unsure about
the gathering to come see
for themselves at the site off
Forest Road 24 in the Mal-
heur National Forest west of
Rainbow gathering
The annual Rainbow Family gathering, which could attract
10,000-30,000 people, is taking place in Flagtail Meadow on the
Malheur National Forest off of Forest Road 24 west of Seneca.
Mt. Vernon
Area in
• Redband trout offspring
are emerging from eggs in
the gravel of Flagtail Creek,
and increased sediment in the
water churned up by an abun-
dance of people in the stream
could diminish their ability to
take oxygen from the water
— or blanket the eggs in the
gravel, causing death. Waste
and biological hazards buried
at the site could also infi ltrate
the water over time.
The Forest Service recom-
mends one latrine for every
100 people, or 100 latrines for
10,000 attendees. Halemei-
er and Fertig said that could
cause problems long after the
attendees leave.
“The site will never be
back to normal,” they said
of the latrines. “That amount
of waste would have never
been on the site. Bacteria and
potential leached effects will
be long-term due to our soil
types in the area.”
This type of event would
typically require an environ-
mental assessment or impact
statement, as required for
Fores t Road 2
t Roa 24
R oad
site of Rainbow
Family gathering
Source: U.S. Forest Service
A hose brings water
in from a creek at the
Rainbow Gathering on
Monday, June 26.
Photos by The Eagle/Rylan Boggs
Continued from Page A1
A Forest Service vehicle heads toward the entrance of the Rainbow Gathering on
Monday, June 26.
John Day
Canyon City
“The unauthorized users
admit that they cannot con-
trol each other and that once
the masses show up all they
can do is try to educate,”
they said. “With the area they
chose folks are going to be
drawn to the sensitive areas
and damage will occur.”
Halemeier and Fertig said
a wide variety of problems
could occur:
• Heritage resources are at
risk from digging for latrines
and compost pits.
• Birds may abandon nests
with young. Big game animals
are at risk from increased traf-
fi c and are being displaced to
less populated areas. Small
mammals’ habitat is being
• The introduction and
spread of invasive weeds may
impact plants. Foot traffi c on
sensitive meadows also re-
tards the ability of plants to
occupy the site.
• Range resources are im-
pacted by the reduction of the
pasture’s forage component,
and livestock will disperse on
trails created by gathering at-
y River
John Da
Resident Kay Steele said
gathering in the forest would
put stress on local wildlife
and disperse them into sur-
rounding areas.
Stubbs agreed the wild-
life would be stressed and
dispersed but said the eco-
system was likely to bounce
To attempt to assuage
fears about what would be
left in the wake of the gath-
ering, Rainbow attendee
Adam Finch Buxbaum read
a letter from the Forest Ser-
vice about the 1997 Rainbow
Gathering near Prineville.
The letter, from Big Sum-
mit District Ranger Susan V.
Skalski, praised the Rainbow
Family for their cleanup job
of the forest.
Residents urged the gath-
erers to keep attendees re-
spectful and stop them from
being a public nuisance, cit-
ing incidents of public inde-
cency and petty theft.
A resident brought up
concerns the gathering was
The U.S. Forest Service ac-
knowledged there isn’t much
it can do about a “Rainbow
Family” gathering expected
to bring thousands of count-
er-culture types to the Malheur
National Forest in Eastern Or-
egon over the next two weeks.
The organizers don’t have
a permit, and the Forest Ser-
vice’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 drink-
ing water like the Rainbow
Family has done. Stout said it
took him two years to get a Na-
tional Environmental Policy
Act permit to drill an explor-
atory mining hole.
“People are furious over
A meeting hosted by
members of the Rainbow
Gathering and attended by
Grant County residents got
heated Wednesday night.
Within minutes, the meet-
ing at the Canyon City Com-
munity Hall briefl y dissolved
into a yelling match between
residents and several of the
roughly 2,000 attendees al-
ready at the site south of John
Day preparing for the July
1-7 Rainbow Gathering.
John Day resident Ken
Mayhead demanded to know
how the gathering would
benefi t residents and the
community. He complained
about the large numbers of
law enforcement offi cers
brought to town and the bur-
den placed on taxpayers by
the event.
“Taxpayers are cleaning
up your mess,” Mayhead
Rainbow attendee Gary
Stubbs said the gathering
purchased large quantities
of food, fuel and camping
equipment locally and esti-
mated the gathering could
bring as much as $300,000
into the local economy. He
also said the number of law
enforcement and government
employees who were in town
to monitor the event would
also rent rooms and eat lo-
Other residents raised
fears about the gathering con-
suming all the food and fuel
in the area. Rainbow attend-
ees said they were working
with wholesalers in the Bend
area to get large quantities of
food and advised local busi-
nesses to anticipate height-
ened demand for food and
fuel in the coming weeks.
this,” Stout said. “Not because
it’s a friggin’ bunch of hippies,
it’s the different standards.”
But Forest Service Agency
Administrator Ryan Nehl said
the agency will not attempt to
stop the gathering.
“It’s a risk-based decision,”
he said. “To try and kick them
off the land would present a
danger to employees and the
The gatherings have been
held since the 1970s.
Stout said the Forest Ser-
vice is “trying to put grazers
out of business” but lets the
Rainbow bunch do what they
He said the gathering spot
is a major Native American ar-
chaeological site and the area
has eight springs that could be
He said the “takeover of
federal ground” is no different
than the Bundy group’s occu-
pation of the Malheur National
Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
“I hate to say that,” Stout said.
By Eric Mortenson
any ground disturbing activi-
ty on a national forest, which
would take one to three years
to complete due to the “scale
of potential impacts and re-
source values in the area,”
they said. Because the gather-
ing is not following the legal
process, the Forest Service is
responding outside of the nor-
mal process on short notice to
protect the resources, more
like a natural disaster.
Gathering attendees re-
fused to sign a special use per-
F or e
Ro ad 16
2 miles
Alan Kenaga/EO Media Group
mit, required for groups of 75
or more to address resource
and other concerns. The For-
est Service issued a design
criteria document listing rules
to mitigate damage to the re-
sources, which attendees also
refused to sign.
Nehl, the agency adminis-
trator, said although the event
is unauthorized the Forest
Service must weigh public
safety and the safety of its
offi cers when determining
whether to take action on a
noncompliant group. He said
20,000 attendees versus a
small number of offi cers were
“not good odds.”
Nationally, the Forest Ser-
vice budgets $500,000 each
year to respond to the Rain-
bow Gathering, which has
been held annually on nation-
al forest land since 1972. The
group has claimed its gather-
ings are protected by the First
“It’s frustrating for us too
that these folks are not com-
plying,” Nehl said. “We un-
derstand we expect other for-
est users to comply with our
rules. We want to be able to
look them in the eye and say
you were held to the same