2023 Rainbow Family of Living Light National Gathering

A Forest Service Law Enforcement Office talking to a member of the Rainbow Gathering.

Unauthorized Group Use Incident (Rainbow Family Gathering) on the Routt National Forest on July 2, 2022.


On June 12, the U.S. Forest Service learned about the potential for an Unauthorized Non-Commercial Group Use Incident (Rainbow Family Gathering) to occur in the Kilkenny Area on the Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest.  The incident coincided with the Fourth of July holiday, with attendance estimated to be around 2200 attendees on July 4.

The Rainbow Family is a loose-knit group of people from throughout the United States and other countries. Since the first gathering near Strawberry Lake on the Arapaho National Forest in 1972, the incident has taken place on different national forests each year. 

Forest Service regulations require all noncommercial group use, defined as activities that have no entry or participation fee charged nor the primary purpose being the sale of a good or service and activities being conducted on National Forest System lands that involves 75 or more people, be authorized by the Forest Service through a special use permit for noncommercial group use.

Large group gatherings in national forests can adversely affect the forest resources, public health and safety, and the availability of public lands. The Forest Service has a responsibility to manage these issues through special use authorizations. 

The Rainbow Family has consistently refused to comply with the permit process during national gatherings. They claim to have no leaders and no one member of the group who can speak for them or sign a permit on behalf of the group. 

The Forest Service mobilized a national incident management team with experience managing these types of incidents. The team worked closely with the local community, including law enforcement agencies, throughout the incident to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, and to lessen environmental impacts to the site by providing information and enforcing laws.

The Incident Management Team has transitioned the incident to the Forest. Rehabilitation efforts are continuing and are anticipated to be wrapped up the week of July 24.

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