Senator Barrasso: All public land users must be held to same standards
Says Rainbow gathering on Bridger-Teton National Forest was mismanaged by USDA
June 27, 2008
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday, June, 26, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso slammed the U.S. Department of Agriculture, calling the Forest Service's management of this year's Rainbow Family gathering totally unacceptable.
Barrasso condemned the failures of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to properly manage the gathering in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. In his letter to USDA Secretary Ed Schafer, Barrasso asked the secretary to give the situation in Wyoming "priority attention."
The senator said in the future that all public land users must be held to the same standards and unauthorized users must not be tolerated.
The Rainbow Family has assembled on public lands every year, somewhere in the United States, since 1972, and the events occasionally draw up to 25,000 participants. This year's gathering is taking place in the Big Sandy area of the Wind River Mountains and will culminate the week of July 4th.
Below is a copy of Senator Barrasso’s letter:
June 26, 2008
Secretary Ed Schafer
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Schafer,
The failures of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to properly manage the Rainbow Family gathering within the Bridger Teton National Forest are unacceptable. The situation now conflicts with many other users. I seek a formal commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that this situation will receive priority attention to protect the interests of all users. Further, I seek commitment that gatherings of this type will be handled appropriately in the future.
The Rainbow Family gathering displaced the Boy Scouts of America who had planned to do an ecological project. In addition, livestock permittees, recreationists, cabin owners and lodge visitors are impacted by this gathering. All of these users have completed the appropriate permit process and worked with the agency to properly plan their activities. The Rainbow Family has not been required to complete these steps, but has been allowed to displace all other users. In the future, all public land users must be held to the same standards and unauthorized use must not be tolerated.
Given the state of the current situation, it is incumbent upon your agency to commit personnel and resources to minimize conflict between the Rainbow Family and other public land users. The people of Wyoming demand protection of public safety and private property.
I request your personal attention to this matter. It is immediately necessary for U.S. Forest Service personnel to contain the Rainbow Family gathering and maintain control of the situation. In addition, please submit in writing your Department’s commitment to offset impacts to local government and public land users.
John Barrasso, M.D.