Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Permits and USFS Double Speak


United States Forest Southwestern Region.
Department of Service Regional Office

333 Broadway SE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
FAX (505) 842 3800
V/TTY (505) 842-3292

File Code: 1550-2/2720-2
Date: June 9, 2009

Santa Fe. NM

Dear Mr. BXXX,

This letter supersedes our previous letter dated June 1, 2009.

Thank you for your email of 4/29 regarding this year's Rainbow Family Gathering. I agree with yon that we should be pursuing a course that will lead to a legal gathering, and one in which Rainbow Family representatives and the Forest Service work cooperatively to ensure that the Gathering is conducted in conformance with a non-commercial group use permit and an operating plan.

You indicated that you have some concern as to who is making decisions in the Forest Service with respect to the Gathering. As I mentioned in previous meetings, it is my direction to the Forests (Gila, Santa Fe, or Carson) that the Gathering will be conducted under the terms of a permit, as required by law. I also indicated that it would be the individual Forest Supervisor who will be responsible for working with Rainbow Family representatives to work out the details of the permit and the operating plan. So, decisions will be made at various levels of the Forest Service, but as we get closer to the actual Gathering, the Forest Supervisor and his or her representatives (District Ranger, Permit Administrator, Resource Specialists, etc.) will be making decisions and administering the terms of the permit and the operating plan.

As we discussed in previous meetings, it will be necessary for a representative of the Rainbow Family to sign the permit so that it can be issued. By having a valid permit and an accompanying operating plan, we will be able to manage the Gathering as a legal event and focus our attention on working with you and your representatives to ensure compliance with the provisions of the permit and operating plan. Our law enforcement officers will of course have a role to play to the extent that there may be violations of law by Rainbow Family gatherers, but our intent is to manage the Gathering more from a Special Use Permit administrative standpoint, than as a law enforcement effort. Of course, the extent to which laws enforcement actions will be needed depends on the conduct of the individuals attending the Gathering.

We understand that there is no legally constituted "group" or non-profit corporation known as the "Rainbow Family" and that no individuals can speak for or act for the "Rainbow Family" and that no individuals can speak for or act as legal representatives of the collective group of individuals who wish to gather and camp together in a National Forest in New Mexico in June and early July of 2009. We understand that rather than having leaders, decisions are reached collectively in council at the site where people are camping. Nevertheless,

Caring for the Land and Serving People


as we discussed in previous meetings, it will be necessary for someone who plans to attend the Gathering to sign the non-commercial group use permit for it to take effect under our interpretation of the regulations. This permit is required by law, and is intended to protect the health and safety of the attendees, and to protect the environmental and archeological resources of the public lands to be used for the Gathering under the permit. We are already in contact with more than one individual planning to attend this year's Gathering who would prefer for us to issue a permit without requiring a signature from an attendee, but are willing to sign the permit in his/her capacity as an individual contact person should we so require. Accordingly, since we have already identified more than one person willing to sign, we are planning for the 2009 National Rainbow Family Gathering to be a legally permitted event.

The ability of the Forest Service to manage the Gathering more as an administrative action than a law enforcement action depends much on your (and other participants of the Gathering) willingness to work cooperatively with the individual Forest Supervisor and his or her staff. To date, you have shown an excellent collaborative spirit. I thank you. I hope this will continue with early identification of the Gathering site, ensuring that Rainbow Family representatives work closely with the Forest to finalize the permit and develop the operating plan, and working closely on a daily basis once the Gathering begins. I believe that if these things can be accomplished, we will have established a successful process that can serve as a model for the planning of future Gatherings.

You know how important it is that you to begin coordinating with the individual Forest Supervisors on the Gila, Santa Fe and the Carson NFs to select the site for the Gathering, complete the permit process and develop the operating plan for the Gathering. The sooner this work can be completed, the better we can jointly prepare for a successful gathering. Thank you again for your dedication to working with us.

(sg) Gilbert Zepeda
(for) Corbin L. Newman, JR.
Regional Forester

cc: Richard Markley, Glen H Pickett, Karen M Carter, Kendall Clark, Daniel Jiron, Erin Connelly

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is double speak about this letter?