RIGGINS – Participants have already been arriving for a planned gathering by the Rainbow Family of Living Light, set to go during the Fourth of July holiday at a public land location outside of Riggins. County, tribal and federal agencies are monitoring the event with preparations on managing the crowds anticipated to attend the group’s 2020 national gathering.
According to a press release from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, the highest concentration of visitors is expected during the first week of July. They selected an area near Forest Service Road 241 on the Salmon River Ranger District.
According to an Idaho County Free Press story posted Friday, the event was to be held at a location outside Lucile on Cow Creek Road. The main event is expected to run July 1-7, with the main festivities set for July 4, according to Captain Jim Gorges, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.
The Rainbow Family is a loose-knit group of people from throughout the U.S. and other countries. Each summer they hold a national gathering to pursue social and spiritual activities and pray for world peace. Since 1972, the event has taken place on a different national forest each year. Crowds range from 2,000 to 10,000 forest visitors.
“We understand there may be impacts to our community, our neighbors and other forest visitors,” said Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. “We are working hard to minimize effects to our local communities and the environment. All visitors to the national forest are expected to obey federal, state and local laws and regulations, and we take the enforcement of these laws very seriously.”
The forest resource protection plan addresses concerns about health and safety, watershed protection, natural resource protection and rehabilitation of the event site before the group leaves. The Forest Service is mobilizing a national incident management team with experience managing these types of events. The team is working in unified command with the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, the Nez Perce Tribe and other local authorities.
According to the release, an event of this size can have significant impacts on traffic, communities, local resources, residents and visitors. Local businesses can expect to see large numbers of Rainbow Family participants visiting stores and buying food and supplies along routes to the gathering site. Forest and county roads in the Slate Creek area, as well as the communities of Grangeville and Riggins, are expected to see potential impacts from the gathering.