Letter to Members Regarding Rainbow Family Visit to Uintas
15 June 2003
Dear High Uintas Preservation Council Members and Friends,
By now you have seen the news that the Rainbow Family, the self appointed largest non-group anywhere, will likely set up camp somewhere on the North Slope of the Uintas this summer. Right now the Spring Council is meeting at Lyman Lake and will either commence the annual gathering there or somewhere nearby..
The Rainbow Family has been gathering in larger and larger numbers for over 20 years, usually on National Forest land. Because there is no formal group or structure, no permits are requested and, for the most part, none are required. Thus there appears very little Forest Service officials and local governments can do to constrain the gathering. The gathering starts soon, mid-June, and commences with a "great circle" and prayer on 4 July. If recent history means anything, it is possible that 10,000-20,000 Rainbow Family folks will be on the North Slope at this time and many hang on throughout the summer. Nonetheless, thousands and thousands of folks will be on the edge of the High Uintas Wilderness and sensitive roadless country.
The Rainbow Family professes a strong belief in peace, living lightly, caring deeply for nature and allowing alternative life styles to flourish. Hear, hear! While some have criticized the Rainbow Family for being peacenicks, hippies and a host of other names, we have only one concern. It is simply not possible to profess a deep concern for nature and then converge by tens of thousands, coming in airplanes and cars, on sensitive wild or near-wild landscapes. It doesn't matter whether the garbage is hauled out, the human waste properly handled--the sheer number of bodies literally disrupts the context of the landscape, disrupts wildlife behavior, fractures habitat, and changes the landscape to one dominated completely by human activity. Whether snowmobilers by the hundreds, oil wells by the dozens, sheep by the thousands, hikers by the scores, our concern is to allow the wild Uintas to sing their song. It is a song we are part of but not to the tune of tens of thousands trampling and altering the fabric of the place.
This is a volatile issue-not because of the alternate life styles-but because of the clear right to meet and gather on public land. To gather for peace and seek common ground are deep and profoundly important in these troubling times, but in this manner on this place the side-effects to the land and its communities are just too much.
Smallness matters in these days. It is sad and worrisome that the great circle could be so large that it destroys its own meaning.
The High Uintas Preservation Council