UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 98-36044 D.C. NO.
ALEXIS BLACK, Plaintiff, and BRIAN MICHAELS; BARRY ADAMS,
RUSSEL ARTHUR, an individual and in his official capacity as
Special Agent Law Enforcement Officer of the Forest Service of
United States Department of Agriculture; JOHN CARPENTER, an
individual and in his official capacity as Special Agent Law
Enforcement Officer of the Forest Service of the United
States Department of Agriculture; UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE,
United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants-Appellees.
D.C. No. CV-97-01798-ALH
ALEXIS BLACK; CARLA NEWBRE; JOHN JOHNSON; SUSAN BERNSTEIN,
BRIAN MICHAELS; BARRY ADAMS, Plaintiffs,
RUSSEL ARTHUR, an individual and
in his official capacity as Special
Agent Law Enforcement Officer
of the Forest Service of the United
States Department of Agriculture;
JOHN CARPENTER, an individual and
in his official capacity as Special Agent
Law Enforcement Officer of the Forest
Service of the United States Department
of Agriculture; UNITED STATES FOREST
SERVICE, United States Department of
Appeals from the United States District
Court for the District of Oregon
Ancer L. Haggerty, District Judge, Presiding
Argued and Submitted
September 15, 1999--Portland, Oregon
Filed February 9, 2000
Before: Ruggero J. Aldisert, 1/ Andrew J. Kleinfeld, and
Fletcher, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by Judge William A. Fletcher
1/ Honorable Ruggero J. Aldisert, Senior United States
for the Third Circuit, sitting by designation.
Reed Lee, JD Obengerger and Associates, Chicago, Illinois,
plaintiffs-appellants Black, et al.
Brian Michaels, Eugene, Oregon, for plaintiffs-appellants
Michaels, et al.
Howard S. Scher, United States Department of Justice,
Washington, D.C., for the defendants-appellees.
W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:
Appellants argue that a United States Forest Service regulation
requiring group use permits for use of National Forest lands is
unconstitutional. Our recent decision in U.S. v. Linick,
195 F.3d 538 (9th Cir. 1999), holding that the regulation in question
is not unconstitutionally overbroad, forecloses part of their
argument. It does not foreclose, however, other arguments, including
appellants' central argument in this case that the Forest Service
cannot constitutionally require the signature of a Rainbow Family
member as a condition of granting a permit.
Appellants are members of the Rainbow Family, a loosely
structured group of people who gather periodically on National
Forest land to pray for peace and to discuss political and environmental
issues. Their gatherings have occurred at least once annually
since 1972 and have become more frequent in recent years. Attendance
at the weeks-long events can exceed 20,000 people.
In the past, the Rainbow Family customarily has communicated
with the Forest Service prior to the gatherings in order to plan
logistics. This communication has yielded "operating plans"
detailing things like the location of food preparation areas,
the location of latrines, the timing of gathering activities,
and the nature of clean-up and restoration activities.
After Forest Service regulations implementing procedures
for the operating plans were held unconstitutional in 1988, see
United States v. Rainbow Family, 695 F. Supp. 294, 312-13
(E.D. Texas 1988), the regulations were amended. Appellants challenge
Subpart B of the amended regulations, 36 C.F.R. § 251. Subpart
B governs "special uses," meaning uses other than timber
harvesting, grazing, and mineral extraction. See 36 C.F.R. §
Most people engaging in a special use, e.g., hikers, campers,
hunters and boaters, do not need a permit. See 36 C.F.R. §
251.50(c). Section 251.50, however, requires special use authorizations
for some non-commercial group uses. See 36 C.F.R. § 251.50(c)(1)-(3).
Rainbow Family gatherings constitute such a group use because
they involve gatherings of 75 or more people. See 36 C.F.R. §§
Appellants challenge the special use permit regulation
as unconstitutional. They assert that because the regulation vests
unbridled discretion in the Forest Service, it constitutes an
invalid prior restraint. In addition, they strenuously object
to the signature requirement found in § 251.54(h)(1)(viii),2
which they maintain constitutes an invalid prior restraint and
an invalid time, place, and manner restriction. The district court
dismissed plaintiffs' action for failure to state a claim. We
affirm the dismissal, although for different reasons from those
given by the district court.
2/ This regulation has recently been renumbered. The signature
requirement can now be found at 36 C.F.R. § 251.54(g)(3)(ii)(H).
 As a threshold matter, we reject appellants' contention
that the challenged Forest Service regulation does not apply to
them because a Rainbow Family gathering does not have an internal
governing structure that would make it a "group." "Group
use" is defined in the regulations as "an activity conducted
on National Forest System lands that involves a group of 75 or
more people, either as participants or spectators." 36 C.F.R.
§ 251.51. It is undisputed that Rainbow Family gatherings
involve more than 75 people. The Rainbow Family's internal governing
structure, or lack thereof, is not relevant to whether such gatherings
fall within the scope of § 251.51.
 Appellants argue that the special use regulations constitute
an invalid prior restraint because they vest unbridled discretion
in the Forest Service to determine who gets a permit and under
what conditions. We recently resolved that issue in a criminal
proceeding brought against members of the Rainbow Family. See
United States v. Linick, 195 F.3d 538 (9th Cir. 1999).
In Linick, we held that although 36 C.F.R. § 251.56(a)(2)(vii)
once "vest[ed] the Forest Service with the power to restrict
the use of public land for an unlimited number of reasons,"
it no longer does so. Id. at 541.
The Forest Service's recently-promulgated interpretive
rule, see 64 Fed. Reg. 48,959 (1999), "saves the scheme"
by enforcing "a self-imposed limit on the Forest Service's
previously unbridled discretion in attaching terms and conditions
to permits." Linick, 195 F.3d at 542-43. In light
of the interpretive rule, we held that 36 C.F.R. § 256.56
constitutes neither a facially invalid prior restraint nor a facially
invalid time, place, or manner restriction. See id. at
 Appellants further argue that the Forest Service regulation
should be subjected to strict scrutiny because, though ostensibly
content-neutral, it was in fact intended to target the Rainbow
Family and to stifle its message. The impetus for the Forest Service's
amending its regulation regarding group use
permits may, indeed, have been its prior experience with Rainbow
Family gatherings. But, as we wrote in Foti v. City of Menlo
Park, 146 F.3d 629, 635 (9th Cir. 1998), even if the Forest
Service had specific experiences in mind when it adopted the challenged
regulation, "[t]he appropriate level of scrutiny is tied
to whether the statute distinguishes between prohibited and permitted
speech on the basis of content." The challenged regulation
manifestly does not so distinguish; rather it is a generally-worded,
facially neutral permit regulation applicable to all groups of
75 or more people, whether the activity at issue is speech or
 Finally, appellants argue vigorously that the requirement
of 36 C.F.R. § 251.54(h)(1)(viii) that a permit be signed
by a member of a group renders the regulation unconstitutional.
Appellants maintain that this section, which requires a person
21 years of age or older to "sign a special use authorization
on behalf of the applicant," 36 C.F.R. § 251.54(h) (1)(viii),
impermissibly chills speech by imposing "an undefined and
unlimited vicarious liability upon the using `group.' " We
find nothing in the regulation that gives the Forest Service a
"vague and undefined" power to impose "unexplained
blanket liability." To the contrary, the group liability
imposed for violation of the permit is strictly confined. As we
construe the regulation (and as the government agreed at oral
argument), the only group liability provided under the regulation
for failure to comply with the permit is revocation and suspension
of the permit. See 36 C.F.R. § 251.60(a)(1).
 Appellants maintain, further, that an individual signing
a permit on behalf of the Rainbow Family will be subject to individual
liability as a result of his or her signature. We do not construe
the regulation to permit such liability against an individual
signer. An individual who signs a permit under the regulation
does so as an agent for the group and provides his or her name
and address solely in order to allow "notice of actions pertaining
to the application" to be communicated to the group. See
36 C.F.R. § 251.54(e)(1);3 see also S 251.54- (h)(1)(viii).
We construe the regulation as providing for no individual liability
whatsoever as a result of the signature, 4/ and the government
explicitly agreed with this construction at oral argument. An
individual may, of course, be subject to liability for his or
her individual acts, but that liability is neither increased nor
decreased as a result of signing the permit on behalf of the group.
We emphasize that no specific application of the challenged
regulation is before us here. This case does not present, and
we do not decide, whether the Forest Service's group permitting
process has been or will be unconstitutionally applied to the
3/ This provision is now found at 26 C.F.R. S 251.54(d)(1).
4/ We note that Section 251.56 (d) provides that "[h]olders
shall pay the United States for all injury, loss, or damage, including
fire suppression costs, in accordance with existing Federal and
State laws." Because individuals who sign an application
as an agent for a group do not thereby become holders, see 36
C.F.R. SS 251.51, 251.54(h)(1)(viii), there is no possibility
that they could be held personably liable under this provision.