Redmond Spokesman News Wed, June 25, 1997

Chill Over The Rainbow

State & federal offficials are in a dither over the Rainbow Family gathering in the Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville. The U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State Police & other agencies are devoting considerable public funds in there attempt to "manage" the situation.

It's strange that they don't respond with equal fervor to the tens of thousands of tourists who pour into Central Oregon every major holiday weekend. And we can't recall special command posts being set up to deal with the mobs of hunters pouring into Prineville each fall.

Everyone assumes the problem is with the Rainbows. The real problem is with how the public officials react to them, & how that in turn provokes the Rainbows. Yes, there has been some problems with early arrivals. Some merchants have reported thiefs. Others have complained of loitering and a strain on services.

But problems- maybe not identical ones but problems nonetheless- arise whenever Central Oregons population swells. We aren't convinced the Rainbows are any more prone to mischief & vice then any other diverse throng of visitors-or locals, for that matter.

Actually, hanging out with the Rainbows is much safer than with many groups whose activities are accepted- indeed encouraged in these parts. The Rainbows aren't packing hunting rifles around the woods. They aren't guzzling six-packs of beer then speeding off across reservoirs on jet skies. They aren't falling off Smith Rock, nearly drowning in Deschutes River rapids or breaking bones on Mt Bachelor, requiring repeated public emergency respones.

No they're just a bunch of mellow people on a long camping trip in the woods. Big deal. Let's save the tax payers money for when it's needed.