scouting report

Discussion in 'Rainbow Family' started by hippiestead, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. hippiestead

    hippiestead Ms.Cinnamon

    Likes Received:
    As posted on several groups, Sailor's scouting report which sent to fs Mark Rey:


    April 15, 2007

    Mr. Rey,

    Two weeks before Thanksgiving 2006, I was asked by
    Mr. J. Kline to travel 2000 miles from my home to
    visit/scout/review sites in three states which the
    U.S.FS are offering as potential encampment areas for
    the Rainbow Family of Living Light annual July 1-7th
    2007 Gathering.

    Further, that this action was in accordance and
    agreement to an email sent by you to Mr. B. Adams,
    Oct. 30, 2006[1]. It was stated by Mr. Kline that by
    doing this scouting, a “spirit of co-operation” would
    be affirmed providing sufficient “evidence” of good
    intent on the Family’s behalf for you to “seriously
    consider appointing a resource or recreation forester
    as incident commander”[2].

    I am sad to see that my efforts, and those of two
    good friends who joined me in this endeavor, were
    wasted; it appears, no “spirit of co-operation” has
    been established and another law enforcement officer
    has been appointed to oversee this year’s gathering.
    To be honest, when I met you briefly a few years ago
    at the library in the Haight area of San Francisco, I
    thought that perhaps you had gained some understanding
    of the problems that accelerate the economic costs to
    the U.S.FS in managing Rainbow Gatherings. That you
    had gained knowledge of how the current permit system
    being administrated, with no regard to “alternative
    manner”, and subsequent law enforcement actions act to
    inflate the budget beyond common reason and what you
    personally could do to reduce cost.

    Apparently I was wrong, so I offer to you two
    suggestions that may still work to reduce the 2007
    management cost to the U.S.FS.

    First, help locate a site not on U.S.FS property by
    full filling a request (via interagency contact)
    initially made to Mr. G. Monk[3] for information and
    maps of “all publicly owned lands” available for
    recreation (inclusive of river and lake flood plain
    areas) on Army Corps of Engineer and Department of
    Interior Lands.

    Second, act on your proposal to “reserve some of
    these sites in advance”[4] and “work out details with
    our resource staff in an operating plan”[5]as it
    relates to McClellan Creek National Grasslands. A
    property, which by my understanding, is not “owned” by
    the U.S.FS but is “managed” by the U.S.FS. This site
    should contain all the elements required for a large
    scale encampment (Gathering site) if “in the spirit of
    co-operation”, the requests sent to Mr. N. Wagoner,
    Regional Forester, R-8 were/are honored. These
    requests, sent via email, fax and phone message last
    fall were: that about one-third of the dead wood from
    the cottonwoods being felled (due to minor fire
    damage) be left on the McClellan Creek National
    Grasslands site for gathering usage, and that Lake
    McClellan be allowed to fill to its maximum capacity
    this spring.

    Actual scouting for a useable site is scheduled to
    begin April 21, as agreed by consensus at the
    Thanksgiving Council, with a rendezvous of those
    interested in offering suggestions and traveling to
    check various areas meeting at Haley’s Ferry in the
    Sabine N.F.

    If “in the spirit of co-operation”, you decide to act
    upon the interdepartmental request for information on
    public lands available for recreation, especially Army
    Corps of Engineer Lands, please have this information
    directed to:


    The rest of this report is a critique of the six sites
    proposed by the U.S.FS that were scouted/reviewed,
    along with commentary regarding criteria used to
    select sites. Skim over the material if you desire
    and you’ve available time, but in reality, the rest is
    more appropriately directed towards the U.S.FS field
    personnel who might want to review/reassess their
    offered potential site list and perhaps take another
    look in their region/district based on the information
    included on site criteria. So please pass it along




    [1] See appendix A

    [2] See appendix B

    [3] See appendix C

    [4] See appendix A

    [5] See appendix A




    Using a DeLorme Gazetteer we located the single road
    access to the proposed site. From the state highway we
    dropped north toward the river on a one lane with
    occasional turnout, steeply declined, gravel road. We
    drove thru one creek which possibly would be dry in
    July. At the second creek with its three foot
    waterfall we turned around and left. Visit complete,
    the access not being able to support gathering traffic
    it was senseless to venture further.

    We did, at the Uof T map room in Austin look at the
    topo of the area and it did not appear that there was
    much more than a small crescent shaped open beach area
    at the end of the access road. Also, the White River
    at this point is broad flowing and deceptively


    We parked at the U.S.F.S. campground across the
    paved road from the proposed site and walked in. A
    confluence of steep ridges formed a narrow bottom in
    which Piney Creek flowed. The “open” area was small
    and contained dense clusters of blackberry bushes.
    After estimating the amount of “campable” space which
    would be lost by even a minimal set back, we
    determined there simply wasn’t enough land available
    with acceptable slope range for camping. Other
    disqualifying factors were: The steep winding state
    road that would present a dangerous traffic situation
    if it had to be employed at any point for a
    parking/shuttle situation. Also we found no active
    springs either within the proposed site or at
    elevations above it.


    This is the only proposed site being considered for
    a second look in the spring. It contains almost all
    required elements, missing only adequate “open” area.
    However due to time constraints we did not track to
    source the in flowing water courses to validate spring
    heads. Nor did we check for private property or
    environmental, cultural or historical issues.

    The three of us who checked this site agreed that a
    short description of one possible usage scenario
    should be included in this report[6] to, hopefully,
    serve as a suggestive example/guide to any district or
    regional forest service employee who might be charged
    with reading this report, reassessing site
    possibilities, and/or compiling a new “potential site

    The approach to the lake is from Alpin via road 207.
    The site is located between two east/west gravel
    roads. The northern most road is a county road which
    runs from state route 9 to state route 7. The
    southern most road is forest road 858 that runs
    approx. 3 miles and dead ends with an adequate turn
    around. The lake is located between these two roads
    being slightly closer to the county road. Between
    fs858 and the lake(approx. 1 to 2 miles) there are two
    sets of ridges running parallel to the road broken by
    two sets of in- flow feeder creeks that supply the
    lake. A majority of the camping and kitchens would
    probably be developed on the rolling bottoms and glade
    benches of these ridges. The southern forest service
    road could also act as a supply and large kitchen drop
    off access point.

    Possible spring heads would be scouted for
    development and filtration, as well as the source of
    the creek coming off Link Mountain to the south. If no
    spring source can be found in April/May that was known
    locally to still be active in July, the site would not
    be viable. Filtering lake water that campers would
    swim in is not an acceptable option. We did see one
    small spring along the lake access road toward the
    north eastern end of the lake; however it looked
    doubtful that it would still be active in July.

    Meaning no disrespect to whomever wrote the U.S.F.S.
    evaluation of this potential site, available parking
    is one of its best features. From the lake access
    road, the county road running eastward is two and a
    half lanes wide with shoulders broad enough to park a
    vehicle such that all four wheels would be off the
    gravel. As the parking moved farther east a shuttle
    system would need to be employed to transport people
    and gear to the lake entry road, re-designated as an
    entry trailhead, closed to vehicles to avoid dangerous
    conditions for foot traffic.

    There is a second entry road to the potential site
    off the county road that dead ends at the lake’s
    spillway. It sits in a small bottom with some open
    area and potentially could serve for a bus
    village/handicapped parking area.

    Again, the major drawback to this potential site,
    that which puts it in the “we can make it work if we
    have too’ category is the lack of open meadow area.
    There is a crescent shaped opening along the eastern
    edge of the lake that continues into an approx. 5 or 6
    acre area. Reality is, if there are no alternatives
    and the water and other considerations check out OK,
    it wouldn’t set precedent; sites have been used in the
    past with very small to no open areas.

    TEXAS :

    Two potential sites were offered in Texas , the old
    1988 site and a site in the Sabine NF at Haley’s

    The Reservoir 1988---

    We had no desire to return to the Sam Rayborn
    Reservoir for even one moment. We also felt it was an
    affront by the U.S.FS to even suggest the site, due to
    previous events there.

    The site didn’t work in 1988 and there was no reason
    to believe it had changed. Also, we felt a lot of
    family would have a difficult time using the site in
    view of its history. Personally, watching the flat bed
    semi’s with cages mounted on them come rolling out of
    the morning fog at the back door in preparation for
    mass arrests is something I’ll never forget, and hope
    to never see again.

    Additionally, assuming the U.S.FS monitors the
    family newsgroup and had recently read the post
    concerning NoGuns being at death’s doorstep in Santa
    Cruz , we considered it insulting and crude to suggest
    this site.


    Interesting from only one perspective, it was
    located in a U.S.FS district composed of only one
    person. This was a new one for us, it was the first
    time any of us had heard of a district that had only
    one person running the whole show.

    The site itself is actually a F.S. campground
    located on the end of a point sticking out into the
    Sabine Reservoir, complete with boat ramp and out
    houses.. The boat ramp would be a major problem as we
    felt we’d really have no right to deny access to its
    use. That would mean vehicle traffic driving down the
    center of the site, a potential dangerous

    situation. Also there was no open area to speak of and
    little parking. No potable water. Additionally, the
    site abutted private lands developed with both summer
    cottages and year round live-in homes. Friction
    between land owners and gatherers would be


    On our way west, after Thanksgiving council in
    Austin , Texas , three of us decided to check a few
    areas that showed some potential while doing map
    review at the Uof T map room. We found this site to
    contain all priorities necessary for a successful
    gathering and have suggested to the U.S.F.S. that it
    be included on the “reserve” list they desire to
    create. Further, we asked that two conditions “in a
    spirit of co-operation” be implemented.

    First, the current removal of damaged cottonwoods
    (due to a minor fire on the west end of the site)
    allow approx. one third of the dead wood left on site
    for gathering usage.

    Secondly that the lake be allowed to fill to a
    maximum this spring and pre-July summer, currently the
    lake covers approx. 9 acres of its potential 27 acre
    area. There seems to be little to no agriculture
    around this lake area, nor are there homes or ranches
    that this lake supplies water too, it appears the lake
    was created simply for the purpose of recreation.

    This potential site is located just off I-40 in
    the panhandle area of Texas ( Gray County ) and
    although it is not N.F. property, it is administrated
    by them for reasons unknown. There are no towns or
    areas of residency within 30 to 40 miles of this site.
    There is a store/gas station a few exits to the east,
    major supply would, probably be located in Amarillo ,
    Texas .

    This site would certainly be different than any other
    site we’ve previously used for an annual gathering as
    it is actually an established (but little used, as its
    run down condition indicates) campground complete with
    camping sites, fireboxes, picnic tables, piped well
    water and one electrical drop box area. There is also
    a boat ramp that fails to reach the lake by about 200
    yards due to the low water level.

    The site contains adequate parking on several off
    shoot roads and excellent handicap access as well a
    separate area below the spillway for a bus village
    compound. Open area is available on the western end of
    the lake (actually part of the original lakebed).
    Adequate shade is available from existing cottonwoods
    as well as from some man made structures. There are
    out houses on the site that could be used if agreement
    to service them could be arranged with either the
    U.S.F.S. or the local contractor they use.

    There doesn’t appear to be any habitat issues
    involved but that remains to be checked as well as
    historical and cultural (American Indian) issues.
    Overall, this appears to be an excellent potential
    site as deserves a second look this spring.

    A map of the area is included as appendix E.


    Two sites offered: Red Slough and Panther Creek.

    Not sure if the recommendation of these sites simply
    represents a particular type of humor akin to Oklahoma
    or if they were in fact serious considerations in the
    minds of those who suggested them. Either way they
    were both a waste of time and money to scout.


    Red Slough turned out to be one square mile of U.S.FS
    property in the middle of a multimillion dollar State
    of Oklahoma rehabilitation project. The site itself
    was nothing more than an open square shaped field with
    a thin line of trees along the edges. No water for
    either bathing or consumption. Access was via a trail
    across the Red Slough Project. Parking would only be
    available along the major gravel road servicing the
    project as well. Did I mention the alligators?

    Panther Creek offered no parking, no potable water,
    and no open areas. Access is via a logged off ridge
    road that fractures into many dead end roads built at
    the time the area was initially logged. The main
    gravel road drops down to Little River where camping
    would be available for perhaps 1,000 folks if they
    camped adjacent to each other, the rest of the
    proposed site was too steep in general, offering
    camping for possibly another 1,000 across the entire
    drainage area of Panther Creek. Parking, at best would
    be about six to eight miles south on Highway 259.

    [6] See appendix D

    [7] See appendix E

    Site Criteria and Other Suggestions

    “In the spirit of co-operation” I, as an individual
    who volunteers on occasions to look for large scale
    encampment sites for Rainbow Gatherings, have chosen
    to pass along the following general criteria hoping
    that future site suggestions by the U.S.FS will not be
    so wasteful of time and money to review.

    Each year different areas of the country are chosen
    for gatherings, this, in itself, often dictates some
    of the parameters for sites. For example, a western
    area generally means high elevation will be required
    to find a spring not “owned” or developed and in use
    for summer grazing. For an eastern site, this, again
    generally, is not a concern, but finding areas of
    national forest without intrusive private property
    becomes an issue. This year a southern area was
    chosen, so the “ideal” site needs to include a body of
    water large enough for campers to immerse in as heat
    will be a factor of consideration.

    Criteria List:


    If there is no “Gathering grade” road to within a few
    miles of the site, it isn’t a site. A gathering grade
    road is one and a half to two lanes wide, capable of
    supporting large RV type vehicles safely. The road
    surface is immaterial, paved or gravel, even dirt is
    fine as long as it can support two-way traffic into a
    parking area. From a parking area to the actual
    trailhead, a one lane road is OK in conjunction with a
    “shuttle” system. Shuttle systems are wasteful and to
    be avoided if possible, a site needs to meet most all
    other requirements to merit this transportation

    Potential sites with roads through them are not viable
    unless the U.S.FS is willing to work with gatherers
    and determine if an area closure or specific road
    closure is required for safety or environmental


    There is no such thing as a parking lot in the woods;
    therefore a creative solution is always required for
    dealing with four to six thousand vehicles. “Ideally”
    a large open clear cut or non-fragile (cattle graze)
    meadow is fine. Roadside parking is the least
    desirable solution, but unfortunately most often the
    case. Any road, federal, state or county, if it allows
    for all four wheels to be off the road is often used.


    Experience has shown that the best case scenario for
    gatherings is one where individuals arrive, park,
    walk-in and don’t leave the site until final
    departure. A site far from private property and towns
    is “ideal”. Also from the parking lot or trail head a
    one to five mile “walk in” to the actual camping area
    is preferred.


    Springs emanating from elevations above the use area
    are the “ideal”. This allows for a gravity
    distribution and filtration system to be employed.
    Creeks, rivers and lakes can be used as a potable
    source but tends to create more difficult distribution
    and filtration. Also any private claims to water
    sources need be addressed before a site is chosen for

    Open areas and Slope

    “Ideally” a site should encompass at a minimum one
    large area of meadow or clear cut for use in ceremony
    and feeding purposes. Also any site that contains
    slope of 20% or more over the whole area is not
    conducive for tent style camping.

    Down Dead Wood

    No live wood is used at Rainbow Gatherings so a fairly
    large (10 cords?) amount of wood is required in normal
    situations. Gatherings, due to fire bans, are
    increasingly shifting toward propane so this criterion
    should be considered as minimal.


    Slit trenches, as defined by the US Army Large Scale
    Maneuver Encampment Guide, are used at Gatherings, so
    the composition of subsoil is important, and areas
    that do not percolate need to be identified.

    Flora and Fauna

    Sites containing large areas of endangered flora or
    fauna are not to be considered. If such sites have a
    limited area of habitat that can be flagged off to
    prevent degradation, it needs to be done before anyone
    moves into the area.

    Additionally, any historical monuments need to be
    identified and labeled as such.

    Land Claims

    Any sites with prior claims such as areas of private
    property or American Indian issues need to be noted so
    that a use decision can be made by campers on an
    individual basis.

  2. hippiestead

    hippiestead Ms.Cinnamon

    Likes Received:

    Other Suggestions to U.S.FS employees responsible for

    finding potential sites;



    a. If the roads in the potential site area are

    actually marked using county routes, please use them

    when writing directions to the site.



    b. Actual mileage between turn-offs is a good




    c. Please do not list as U.S.FS contacts LEO’s

    or Public Relocation Officers. If a person scouting

    actually calls a district or regional office, it is

    most likely for directions to a potential site, or to

    question land ownership, or an environmental issue –

    none of which a LEO or PR person can answer.



    d. Please avoid asking anyone to check or review

    potential sites in the middle of hunting season.



    e. If at all possible, provide a contact that

    can be reached on a weekend as many who look for sites

    work during the week.



    In Summation;



    Rarely are all “ideal” criteria met. Most often a

    choice of compromises between least undesirables is

    made. There is however some criteria that

    automatically eliminate any suggested area. These are:



    No usable road to site.



    No water on site.



    No “safe” parking within 10 miles.



    Too much private property within proposed area.



    Cultural or habitat issues that cannot be resolved.



    I hope this list of criteria and suggestions are a

    useful reference for future USFS employees charged

    with searching their districts for potential large

    scale encampment areas.




  3. stephaniesomewhere

    stephaniesomewhere Member

    Likes Received:
    that was very interesting to read all the different considerations and descriptions of places you guys have looked at. There are some big festivals here and I remember some of the considerations that had to go into choosing where and when to hld events so it is fascinating to read about it in other places. Thanks.
  4. merlinclark

    merlinclark Member

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    tu, some very interesting reading. im interested in this supposed "alternative site list" the usfs wants?
    so it seems from this that the only feasible site seems 2 b rock creek lake in arkansas. the only major drawback being it's light on meadow space. i remember the 96 national in missouri near there we had a really small main meadow as well.
    tu for scouting. its gotta b an incredible amount of time, money, research, and sweat.
  5. luvione

    luvione Member

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    Thanks to those who do this part,,, just wanted to say, howdy,, makin preparations from this end,,, am so excited,,, lovin to all!
  6. tikoo

    tikoo Senior Member

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    thanks . i'd been really curious about this . peace in the woods , peace in the woods .
  7. Brad2571

    Brad2571 Member

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    Thanks for the work you're doing.
  8. Bumble

    Bumble Senior Member

    Likes Received:
    Thanks, brother. I have been more excited about following the progress this year than last year. I'm still hoping for Arkansas even though the spots pose dangerous terrian. Everyone just needs to come prepared (proper foot wear, etc.). I don't know if I want to go to TX. Not just because of the 1988 history, but because it's going to be crazy hot. Atleast in Arkansas there will be a cool mountain breeze. Again, thanks for doing your part!

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