Past Management Approaches

During the 27 years the Rainbow Family has held their national gathering on the national forest, many approaches to management of the impacts have been tested. In 1992, the Grand Mesa, Uncompaghre and Gunnison National Forests identified a strategy they believed was effective and consistent with the previous three gatherings: coordinate with the Rainbow Family to minimize impacts, issue closure orders to meet identified management objectives, work closely with the State and local law enforcement, health and social services agencies. 2/ This strategy has been the cornerstone of Rainbow gathering management since 1992.

Some forests have attempted to incorporate this strategy in addition to some "good host" or "customer service" concept that is incompatible with the Rainbows unauthorized use of National Forest System lands sad the impacts to the community from a criminal or indigent element. Except for 1997, this service attitude regarding the Rainbow Family's unauthorized gathering and its serious economic, social and resource impacts was quickly dropped.

The permit issue has always been contentious. The Rainbow Family, claiming to have no leaders, has consistently refused to apply for the current Noncommercial Large Group Use Permit claiming that no one speaks for the Rainbow Family and that the permit requirement violates their Constitutional right to assemble. The current permit regulation has been upheld in US District Court in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri, as not impeding the Rainbow Family's First Amendment rights.

The current strategy regarding permit compliance began in 1997. At the 1997 national gathering, five individuals from the Rainbow Family were cited for unauthorized use of National Forest System lands. The charges were later dropped after another person came forward representing the Rainbow Family and submitted a permit application The permit was subsequently granted by the forest.

The Rainbow Family refused to submit an application for a permit for the 1999 gathering. On July 2, 1999, two individuals were cited for unauthorized use of the National Forest System lands, and another was cited on July 5, 1999. Although some Rainbow Family gathering founders have said they want this issue to go through the federal court system believing they will be upheld on Constitutional grounds, the three defendants pled not guilty but chose to be heard before the Federal Magistrate instead.

Since the Rainbow Family refuses to get a permit and are not physically removed from the site, public perception of management inconsistencies are echoed in the frequent questions such as "why can they get away with not obeying the (permit) law-", "if I had a large group, I know you'd make me get portable toilets", "why did you invite them here?" and "why don't you just kick them out of the National Forest?" These are tough questions with no easy answers.

2/ Final Report of the 1992 Rainbow Gathering; Grand Mesa, Uncompaghre and Gunnison National Forest, Overland Reservoir, Colorado.


Current Management Strategy

Creating An Organized Response

In 1997, the National Leadership Team developed a strategy for managing the gathering and chose three individuals to serve in Incident Command System roles of Incident Commander, Operations Section Chief for Law Enforcement and Information Officer/Public Affairs. These individuals were to be the consistent, experienced leadership for desisting the affected Forest in man aging the Gathering for at least three years. The Washington Off ice of the Forest Service allocated funding for the team's activities in managing the Gathering thereby eliminating the severe budget impacts incurred by the affected Forest. In 1997, Region 6 activated a Type II Fire Team for the Gathering. The attempt to blend the three individuals in these leadership roles with a previously established team was not productive.

In 1998, the National Leadership Team refined the National Strategy and approved filling positions for a National Incident Team. This is a 'Short Team' consisting of the Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Information Officer, Planning Section Chief, Logistics/Finance Section Chief, Operations Section Chief for Law Enforcement and Communications Section Chief. The team members were chosen for their experience and reputation through an application process. The Communication Unit Leader position was elevated to a general staff position.

These seven individuals are charged with relieving the Forest and District of most of the day-to-day management of the Gathering while working closely with the units to meet their unique resource and social concerns under a clear Delegation of Authority. The Team works with the Line Officers' concerns and desired outcomes in mind and utilizes existing networks for communications efforts with communities, interest groups and other agencies.

Members of the National Incident Team:

Bill Fox - Incident Commander
Gene Smalley - Safety Officer
Rose Davis - Public Affairs/information Officer
John Carpenter - Operations Section Chief for Law Enforcement
Debbie Whitman - Planning Section Chief
Gary Sick - Finance and Logistics Chief
Larry Wade - Communications Section Chief


1999 Incident Management

The National Incident Management Team objectives for Forest Service management of the 1999 Rainbow Family Gathering are:

- Promote the health and safety of Forest Service employees, area residents and Forest visitors.

- Minimize the impact to the environment by interacting closely with the local Forest Service unit, providing information to Gathering organizers and enforcing resource laws.

- Recognize, and to the extent possible, mitigate social and political impacts to the local Forest unit, other Forest visitors and communities.

- Respect the civil rights of Gathering attendees, Forest Service employees and members of cooperating agencies in all management activities.

These objectives will be implemented by using a pro-active management approach in:

- Coordinating with the local unit, communities and Rainbow Gathering attendees,

- Cooperating with Federal, State and local agencies,

- Enforcing applicable laws and regulations inside and outside the perimeter of activity in a fair and consistent manner. Enforcement will be commensurate with law enforcement capability and current standards or thresholds set by the affected Judicial District,

- Operating in a financially responsible manner and, at a minimum, remaining within allocated budget,

- Continually providing information, responding to the issues and concerns of state and local elected officials and the community and managing media relations in coordination with the local unit public affairs and line officers.


Team Contacts

Pre-work with other Federal, State/county and local contacts

The National Incident Management Team recognized the importance of establishing communications with affected communities, agencies and governments long in advance of the Incident. Briefing packages were provided and many people were contacted via introductory phone calls by members of the Incident Command Team. Many meetings were held to inform individuals and groups and establish partnerships. These meetings included:.

- November, 1998 - Incident Team members met with the Allegheny National Forest Leadership Team, other agency representatives and staff from Congressman John Peterson's office in Titusville, Pennsylvania

- March 8, 1999 - Incident Team members met again to coordinate with the Allegheny National Forest, including the two District Offices in Bradford and Marienville.

- March 11. 1999 - Incident Team members briefed the Northeastern Regional Forester and Regional Office Staff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

- April 12, 1999 - Incident Team members and representatives from the Law Enforcement and Investigations Office briefed elected official from Pennsylvania in Washington, D.C.

- June 2, 1999 - Incident Team members briefed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge's staff and interested agency heads in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On Scene Arrival of the National Incident Management Team

To continue coordination with established contacts in the area, the Incident Commander arrived in Warren on May 31, 1999, and met with various groups in Warren and Ridgway. The Allegheny National Forest provided office space at the Supervisor's Off ice. On June 6, 1999, the Public Affairs/lncident Information Officer arrived with the remaining members of the team along with additional staff and volunteers arrived by Sunday, June 10, 1999. The Team received the delegation of Authority to manage the incident on June 10, 1999, during a briefing with the Allegheny National Forest.

The Team established an Incident Command Post at the Sheffield Work Center School in Sheffield on June 13, 1999. Additional personnel and supplies were ordered at that time.


Delegation of Authority

The Delegation of Authority was signed by Allegheny National Forest Supervisor John Palmer on June 10, 1999. The Delegation authorizes the National Incident Team to manage the 1999 Rainbow Family National Gathering through mid-July. The Delegation outlined primary performance objectives and guidelines in the areas of:

Event (Gathering) Management - Permit enforcement direction, internal and external customer relationships and communications and ongoing and final documentation.

Human Resources - Safety and Civil Rights

Information - Communication planning. internal and external communications, media contacts

Community Relations - Maintaining current and establishing strong community relations through continued communications' identification of potential conflicts and issues in the affected area and cooperation with local, county and state agencies and organizations.

Resource Protection - Utilizing resource professionals from the Allegheny National Forest and coordinating with the Rainbow Family in the major areas of concern such as water quality, historic sites, litter, garbage, human waste and fire prevention. Work with the Forest to develop an operating plan and rehabilitation plan geared to site restoration.

Law Enforcement - Developing a law enforcement plan to incorporate law enforcement agencies with on and off-site jurisdictions in the area.

Costs - Managing the event within established cost constraints. Ensure all operations are cost effective, efficient and justifiable. Use charged-as-worked principles on the incident.

Unified Command

A Unified Command was established between the Forest Service and the Pennsylvania State Police. These cooperating agencies had geographic or functional jurisdiction to jointly manage the incident through a common set of objectives. The agencies participating in managing the 1999 Rainbow Family Gathering include:

Elk County Emergency Services             Sheffield Township Police
Ridgway Police Department                 Kane Police Department
Ridgway Ambulance Service                 Warren Police Department
Dickinson Mental Health                   St. Mary's Police Department
Pennsylvania Department of Health,        Johnsonburg Police Department
Food Services Division
Pennsylvania Department                   Elk County Sheriff's Department
of Environmental Protection
McKean County Sheriff's Department        Warren County Sheriff's Department
Forest County Sheriff's Department        Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission     Center For Disease Control
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture    Kane Community Hospital


Closeouts And Critiques

USFS Working Group

At the end of June, some members of National Working Group arrived in Warren. The National Working Group is responsible for developing a national strategy to manage large group activities on National Forest System lands. Team members visiting the incident were Alice Carlton, WO Recreation, Kim Thorsen, Assistant Director of Law Enforcement and Investigations (LE&I), and Dennis Neill, Public Affairs. Their mandate was to review and evaluate the national overhead team and determine if the team was working within the parameters of the National Strategy for managing large group activities.

In addition, Roger Seewald, Deputy Director of LE&I and Bill Wasley, Director of LE&I visited the week of June 30.

Unified Command

On July 9, 1999, the participating agencies held their last official meeting. They conducted a critique on the overall Unified Command concept and its application on this incident. Discussion was very open and honest, and provided the overhead team with suggestions for future management of Rainbow Gathering Incidents. Generally, the members were very supportive of the overall concept. They believed there was appropriate participation from the agencies involved. Suggestions were provided on improving communications for future incidents. All agreed on the importance of understanding the Incident Command System concept.





The primary objective for the Safety Officer on the incident was to promote the health and safety of Forest Service employees and other agency personnel assigned to the incident, area residents, and other Forest visitors.


The major issues and concerns identified for the incident were summarized into six (6) general categories. These included:

- Water Quality - potable
- Solid and Human Waste Disposal
- Food Preparation and Storage
- Public Health
- Environmental Factors
- Safety of Incident Personnel

The Health and Safety matrix identified four (4) primary areas of concern to incident personnel. These were:

- Travel issues related to vehicles
- Health Issues
- Environmental Concerns
- Infectious Diseases

The above categories were developed after discussion and consultation with local officials, input from public meetings, analysis by health and safety personnel and input by local Forest Service resource specialists.



A number of methods were used to mitigate these issues or concerns. These include:

- Efforts to determine key contacts within the Medical Services, local, state and federal health agencies.

- Use of a matrix to identify hazards and concerns associated with the event. (Appendix 1)

- Frequent briefings with participating agency personnel.

- Site visits by Health/Safety personnel to identify hazards and propose appropriate mitigation measures.

- Debriefing incident personnel to determine "near misses" or accident reports from previous day.

- Daily safety briefings prior to departure of personnel for their shifts.

- Routine contacts and interaction of personnel from Emergency Medical Services, Centers for Disease Control and law enforcement community to determine trends or medical cases.

Appropriate procedures to mitigate or minimize exposure to these concerns were discussed with personnel at briefings. Other agencies assisted and provided input or suggestions for mitigation measures during the incident as well. Bio Hazard bags were provided each patrol unit for use in the event potentially infectious material was received or recovered. Sharp containers were provided at the Incident Command Post for disposal of needles or other sharp instruments.

Tornado season in northwest Pennsylvania is June I thru July 15. To prepare for a tornado or severe storm warning, key personnel were provided pagers with a direct link to the National Weather Service thru 911 dispatch. Reports of severe weather watches or warnings were transmitted to various incident personnel. Safety zones were identified and discussed at briefings and made known to field personnel.

Helicopter landing zones were identified in the event of a medical emergency. Both a primary and secondary site was selected in cooperation with personnel from Elk County Emergency Services and Ridgway Fire Department. In addition, two ambulance transfer points were identified and mutually agreed upon by ambulance personnel, emergency services personnel, the Team Safety Officer and representatives from the Rainbow Family (Center for Alternative Living Medicine).

One important key to the success of the team's Health and Safety program was an effort to pre-plan the event with key public health officials and agencies. In April 1999, briefings were held in Bradford and Ridgway, Pennsylvania, to brief Forest Service personnel and community leaders about the likelihood of a national Rainbow Family gathering during the summer of 1999. Team members with experience from previous gatherings facilitated town meetings and smaller group discussions and described the possible impacts a gathering might have on a community and the natural resources in the area Following these meetings, key individuals were identified at both the local and state levels and relationships were strengthened as the team members arrived in early and mid June.


Water Quality

There was no safe source for potable water at the gathering site. Four water sources where pipelines were installed by the family were tested by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Eight samples were collected with none meeting safe drinking water standards. High bacteria counts were found in all samples and 50% of all the spring sites contained E. coli. All surface water contains giarda cysts due to the beaver and wildlife populations in the area. Early in the incident, all gathering attendees contacted were advised that water on the site was non-potable and must be chemically treated or boiled prior to drinking.

Trash And Human Waste

The accumulation of solid (garbage, paper, cans and bottles) and human waste (feces and urine) was identified in the matrix and during town meetings and various discussions with local residents and health officials. This quickly became a health concern because of possible down stream impacts to communities who are dependent on watersheds for their drinking water and are important areas for recreation activities during summer and fall months.

Many residents were vocal about local requirements to have residential septic systems installed to specifications but the government seemed "willing" to allow about 20,000 "hippies" to defecate at will throughout the forest without appropriate safe guards or permits. It is estimated the 20,000 plus individuals will produce approximately 12 tons of feces per day and several thousand dogs will only add to this figure.

The Allegheny National Forest provided a soil scientist and other resource personnel to assist Rainbow Family members with recommendations for best sites to build trenches and pit toilets. Several toilets were initially constructed within riparian areas and Rainbow personnel relocated these toilets following contact by Forest Service personnel.

Lime and ash was provided by Rainbow members at most latrine locations to be used to breakdown waste and to discourage the presence of flies within the pits. Many of the latrine sites were covered by a plywood sheet with a lid. Once the pit was filled, waste was covered by topsoil and a new pit was dug near the old pit. Although some reports were received that human feces was found in the open and along the trails to the latrines, observers near the main gathering site along Bear Creek reported no evidence of indiscriminate use except at the latrine locations.

Food Preparation

Approximately thirteen (13) kitchens were identified at the gathering site. All food preparation areas are under the control of the Rainbow Family. Several soup kitchens, coffee kitchens and a sprout farm were also identified. In addition, a number of family members prepared their own meals at individual campsites. In order to prevent a major outbreak of illness, Incident personnel, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and Centers for Disease Control personnel provided educational handouts and advice on food handling, preparation and kitchen sanitation. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services personnel conducted on site inspections and educational discussions of food preparation and kitchen sanitation with several gathering attendees at the kitchens.


Public Heath

Due to the lifestyle and personal hygiene practices of many gathering participants, an outbreak of several communicable diseases was possible. Risk areas include bloodborne pathogens, viral hepatitis, acute diarrhea, sexually transmitted diseases, and foodborne and animal related diseases. For protection of incident personnel, personal protective equipment such as gloves and CPR facial shields, and chemical barrier products were provided. Several safety alerts also addressed the prevention measures for reducing exposures to these diseases. Biohazard Bags were provided to each patrol unit and were disposed of at the end of the incident. To reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, Elk County Health Department enhanced a supply of condoms to St. Marys Hospital Emergency Room, for distribution to gathering participants. This was handled by one of the E.R. physicians at St. Marys hospital.

Environmental Factors

Environmental concerns included adverse weather issues, related to thunderstorms accompanied by heavy lighting, high winds and rain. The site was within the tornado belt, identified in eastern Pennsylvania. Normal tornado season was identified as being from June 1 through July 15. Several evacuation points were identified and marked outside the gathering area for use by Incident personnel in case of the need to evacuate. Two tornado watches and one tornado warning was issued during the gathering. High winds caused several trees to fall, but no injuries occurred.

Several poisonous plants exist on the site. Poison ivy and poison sumac grow at the Bear Creek site. The site was also identified as a denning area for the eastern timber rattlesnake. Ticks were a major issue because of the high incident rate of Lyme disease that occurs in eastern Pennsylvania.

One Rainbow Family member was struck by lightning and was taken out for medical check-up. Two dogs standing by the person were killed by a lightning strike. One person was transported by helicopter to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for treatment of a rattlesnake bite on his hand.

Safety Of Incident Personnel

The personal health and safety of personnel assigned to the incident is a high priority for the National Team. The primary methods used to disseminate information about health and safety concerns were daily briefings and written health and safety alerts. Topics addressed in briefings and alerts include:

Defensive Driving              Hepatitis
Dehydration/Heat               Tick Bites
Vehicle Maintenance            Animal Bites
Tornado Safety                 Gas Wells/Lines
Blood Pathogens                Lyme Disease
Lice/Fleas                     Heat Exhaustion/Stroke
Stress                         Carelessness
Lightning                      Lice/Fleas

In addition almost daily contacts were made with public health and health care providers at local, county and state levels. Number of cases seen and general complaints were monitored for trends and concerns that might be of interest to incident personnel.


Statistical Reporting

During the period from June 7 thru July 7, 1999, a total of 89 patients were seen and/or treated by medical facilities in Grove City (3), St. Marys Regional Medical Center (40), and Med Express in Ridgway (46). No patients were treated at Kane Community Hospital or Clearfield Hospital. Three patients were treated by ] Mental Health and are included in the total for St. Marys Regional Medical Center. (Appendix 2)

The most prevalent medical complaint or diagnoses was infection, which included pharyngitos, cellutitis and conjunctivitis. Musculoskeletal pain or injury was the next greatest complaint category. Many of these injuries were caused by falls. Psychiatric complaints to include mental illness, substance abuse and adjustment disorders were the next major category. This was followed closely by patients receiving insect bites or stings and gastrointestinal disorders.

Genito-urinary, allergy/asthma and social (abuse, homelessness) were the three (3) categories with the least number of patients.

The number of visits by Rainbow Family members to community health care providers remained relatively low, 0-3 per day, from June 7 thru June 25. On June 26, the number of patients requesting medical treatment began to increase through July 6. A peak was reached on July 3 when eleven patients were treated. The numbers of patient visits dropped rapidly after July 6 (Appendix 3)

Demand on community health care facilities correspond well with estimated number of Family members attending the gathering. There was a decrease in patient load on July 4, which was the day that estimated populations numbers were greatest. However, this apparent contradiction was due to July 4th being an important day of prayer for Rainbow Family member.


Public Affairs/Information


The objectives of the Rainbow Incident Information Office generally outlined in the Delegation of Authority are normal Incident Information tasks. The office was to nurture existing relationships within the community by providing information through meetings, updates, media contacts and local agency personnel. The Incident Information Officer was to manage media air operations in coordination with incident air operations and provide the Incident Commander and/or Forest Supervisor with information on emerging issues and concerns. The Incident Information Officer is also responsible for providing internal agency briefings and communication as to the incident's progress.


Information Management - The Team, especially the Incident Information Officer, has to remain focused on the Forest Service role in managing the effects of the event. We can communicate our past experiences when discussing community expectations, but we can't predict the impacts of each gathering. Calls about community impacts were referred to merchants or local police departments, calls about the number of overdose cases were referred to local medical facilities and so on.

Noncommercial Large Group Use Permit noncompliance and consequences - a) The Forest Service strategy for citing Rainbow Family members and the subsequent lack of their removal, b) Managing information to protect the integrity of the upcoming permit litigation, c) Explaining the permit to media and public as Rainbows continued to claim it was unconstitutional.

Economic and cultural effects to the neighboring communities - a) Negative effects of regular customers staying away from stores balanced with positive effects of increased Rainbow related sales, b) Local values clashing with Rainbow philosophy; rumors of local resident's "going up to get rid of those hippies", potential tourism traffic effects from gathering media coverage and possible conflicts with community July 4 celebrations.

Political interest - a) Local residents contacting elected officials of all levels to complain about the effects of the gathering and the Forest Service "allowing" the incident.

Law Enforcement - a - The increase in law enforcement presence to deter and respond to criminal activity within area communities impacted some local residents as well, b) Reports of arrests and managing information to comply with privacy laws' c) Coordination with information representatives (if available) of other law enforcement agencies to release facts regarding arrests, citations etc. and d) understanding processes for calls with reports of missing people or runaway juveniles.

Rumor Control - Encouraging the public and employees to call with any rumors heard so Information Officers can confirm or dispel the rumor. Rumors regarding other agencies were turned over to those agencies for direct contact of the individual reporting the rumor.




The Rainbow Incident Information Office included a Lead Public Affairs/Type I Information Officer, and two Type I Information Officers and one Type III trainee with varied assignment lengths. The trainee was a Public Affairs Officer from the Forest Service Washington Office with responsibilities for LE&I. The Allegheny National Forest Public Affairs Officer also provided support by providing media information, calling with a 'heads up' to rumors, providing an overview of Forest issues and supplying some out-of-area news clippings.

Internal Communications

One of the first and most important tasks of the Information Office was to e-mail the Allegheny National Forest frontliners the daily update that including the Incident Information Office phone number, location and office hours. The Team Information Officer also provided a briefing to Forest and cooperator frontliners to explain what to expect and provide information on where to get assistance in the event of being harassed by visiting Rainbows. The front liners also responded to gathering attendees' phone calls by informing them that this was an unlawful gathering and the Forest Service discouraged their attendance. Many customer and media calls were referred to the ICP Information Office with the goal of relieving the frontliners of Rainbow-related calls and issues.

The daily updates were e-mailed to an internal mailing list of Allegheny personnel, Forest Supervisors from surrounding Forests and regional and WO personnel. Daily updates were also posted on two electronic bulletin boards for Allegheny National Forest personnel to access. Newspaper clippings were faxed to the Northeastern Regional Office Public Affairs Off ice. When contacted by national media such as Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a "heads up" call or e-mail was sent to the Forest Service Media Desk.

The office also maintained a bulletin board in front of the ICP and in the warehouse where briefings were held. Fire information was also posted when appropriate. The Incident Information Office also completed thank you letters and certificates of appreciation.

External Communications

After establishing the Incident Information Office at the Sheffield Work Center, daily updates were produced to keep the media, public, elected officials, area merchants and law enforcement agencies informed about the Incident. The update included numbers of Rainbow Family members at the site (the most frequently asked question), current health and safety issues, ongoing resource concerns and most recent law enforcement activities. The strategy was to contact as many people as possible via e-mail to take advantage of new technologies. With assistance from the Forest, the Information Office also established an internet web page linked to the Allegheny National Forest web page and posted the updates daily.

The Information office faxed updates to a list of approximately 15 individuals and law enforcement agencies, and e-mailed the update to a list of approximately 25 mostly Pennsylvania government individuals including Governor Ridge's office, Senator Santorum's Office, Congressman Peterson's staff in Titusville and Washington, and individuals from Pennsylvania health and safety agencies. Other e-mail recipients included Chambers of Commerce and some reporters.

Information was also shared with the public during community meetings that were organized by the Pennsylvania State Police. Information Officers presented information at meetings in Johnsonburg, Lake City, Warren and Ridgway, Pennsylvania.


Information Office Activity

The Incident Information phone line was publicized and well used. Because the Incident Command Post was 40 miles from Ridgway, the most affected community, the office did not get the walk in visitors as with prior years. To meet the needs of outlying communities, the Information Office also developed a "trapline" to distribute the daily updates at Russel City, Kane, Johnsonburg, and Ridgway. This personal contact nurtured relationships and provided valuable feed.

The Rainbow Family Gathering receives heavy local, regional and national media attention. All national media was managed by the Lead Public Affairs/Information Officer who had clearance from the Forest Service National Media Desk. There was interest both within the Forest Service Washington Office and the Department of Agriculture Communications Office in the management of national media on this incident.

All media who contacted the office were asked to come by the Incident Command Post before going to the gathering site. They were given the most recent daily update, a map to the site and a complete safety briefing They were also informed that the Rainbow Family had a media welcome center and that they would be either blatantly or subtly escorted around the gathering by Rainbow Family members who wanted to control the information offered by the media. Information officers also provided live and taped radio interviews to stations regionally and nationally. A breakdown of media activity is reflected below.

Interested regional media included:

Television channels 5, 12 and 35 from Erie, Pennsylvania
Television channel 12 from Altoona, Pennsylvania
The Erie Times News
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Harrisburg Patriot

Interested local media included:

The Bradford Era
The St. Mary's Daily Press
The Ridgway Record
Television Channel 10 from St. Mary's
The Derrick
The Kane Republican
The Warren Times Observer

VIP Visits

This incident attracts VIP visits every year, usually elected officials and Regional or Washington Office Forest Service personnel. The 1999 gathering visitor list included Director of Law Enforcement and Investigations Bill Wasley, and Northeastern Regional Officer Public Affairs Director Sherry Wagner and Regional Forester Representative Richard Stem. Ellen Hornstein from the USDA Office of General Counsel in Washington D.C. and John Trucilla, Assistant United State Attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania also visited. These guests were provided briefing packages by the Information Office.


Law Enforcement Operations


The primary Forest Service law enforcement objective was to provide for the protection of the public, employees, and natural resources in accordance with the national strategy for the management of large group activities. The Forest Service developed a unified command for management of the incident with the Pennsylvania State Police. Law enforcement activities were also coordinated with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including

- Elk, Warren, Forest and McKean County Sheriff's Departments
- Ridgeway Borough, Sheffield Township, Kane Borough,
- City of St. Mary's, Johnsonburg Borough and
- Warren City Police Departments
- Pennsylvania Game Commission
- USDOJ - Drug Enforcement Administration
- USDOJ - U.S. Marshal's Service
- USDOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation

Forest Service law enforcement personnel enforced applicable laws and regulations, inside and outside the perimeter of the activity, commensurate with law enforcement capability and current standards or thresholds set by the Western Judicial District of Pennsylvania


- The Forest Service law enforcement strategy consisted of the following:

- High visibility Law Enforcement patrols throughout the gathering area Primary agencies conducting law enforcement activity at or near the gathering site included the Forest Service and Pennsylvania State Police. The emphasis was on traffic enforcement and high visibility patrols on roads leading to and throughout the gathering area to reduce motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents, and to provide immediate availability of officers to respond to incidents and citizen reports of crimes or emergencies. Pennsylvania Game Commission also patrolled the gathering area.

- The Pennsylvania State Police used horse patrols in the main areas of the gathering to provide for public safety, identify potential problem areas, and support Forest Service personnel in the area. [Deleted-7(E)]

- Applicable laws and regulations were applied by Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel during patrol activities, and violations were documented.

- The Pennsylvania State Police provided support to the local communities and increased patrols on state highways and other public roads leading to and within the gathering area. They also provided law enforcement assistance to Forest Service officers in the gathering area.


- Cooperating state and local agencies established jurisdictional responsibilities.

- Due to the large number of natural gas pipelines and wells within the gathering area, Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel provided fire prevention information to participants and enforced regulations regarding camping and parking near the facilities.


Aviation activities at the incident included support to law enforcement operations, incident documentation, and medical evacuations. The aviation support was provided by the Pennsylvania State Police and two area air ambulance helicopter services,

All air operations over the incident were coordinated with the Incident Command Team and the Allegheny National Forest. An Incident Aviation Coordinator was assigned and Project Air Operations Plan completed. Due to media interest in the event, the Incident Information Officer advised the media of the recommended protocol for any media flights that might occur over the incident area.


Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations personnel worked 24 hours in three shifts during the peak period of the event from June 24 to July 6, 1999. Forest Service Law Enforcement staffing consisted of the following:

Law Enforcement Officers (LEO's)
June 10 to June 23, [Deleted - 7(E)] Law Enforcement Officers

June 24 to July 5 [Deleted - 7(E)] Law Enforcement Officers
July 6 - [Deleted - 7(E)] Law Enforcement Officers

July 7 to July 11 [Deleted - 7(E)] Law Enforcement Officers
(includes [Deleted - 7(E)] K-9 unit positions)

Supervisory Personnel
One (1) Operations Section Chief
One (1) Deputy Operations Section Chief
Three (3) Division Supervisors

Investigative Personnel
[Deleted - 7(E)] Criminal Investigators

Support Personnel
One (1) Documentation Clerk


1999 Forest Service Rainbow Gathering Report, Part 3