The Rainbow Family of Living Light will hold its annual Rainbow Gathering on the Malheur National Forest, on the Blue Mountain Ranger District near the towns of John Day and Seneca in Eastern Oregon, U.S. Forest Service officials have announced.

The gathering, which was at one point rumored to be heading to Southern Oregon, could draw anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 people. Participants are currently beginning to arrive and officials expect attendance to peak the week of July 4.

Law enforcement agencies in many part of Oregon, including locally, have been monitoring the plans since it was learned earlier this year that the gathering might return to the state for the first time since 1997, when it was held in the Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville. The event has been held in different locations annually since 1972, usually on national forestland.

The Rainbow Family is a loose-knit group of people without leadership or organization who participate in a national gathering once a year. Attendees come from across the country. The gathering has in the past created a variety of legal and environmental problems, including massive littering and drug usage. Since 1972, the event has taken place on a different national forest during a two-week period surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. Last year it was held in Vermont.

“We are working closely with the local community to raise awareness about the event and plan accordingly before the majority of participants arrive,” said Ryan Nehl, agency administrator and Malheur National Forest deputy forest supervisor. “Ensuring public safety, minimizing impacts to local communities, and protecting natural resources will be our top priorities.”

The Forest Service has established an incident management team consisting of natural resource specialists, law enforcement officers, health and safety coordinators, and community liaisons. The incident management team is coordinating closely with county officials and law enforcement officers to provide for public safety and resource protection.