Hundreds of members of an environmental movement are gathering for a week in Wasatch County forests. The group will be gathering to spend time camping with likeminded individuals while also holding panels and workshops relating to topics from land defense, campaign strategy, and wilderness survival skills.
A few hundred members of the Earth First! movement are gathering together near Soapstone Mountain in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest about 20 miles East of Francis. The Earth First! Round River Rendezvous takes place for a week from July 3rd through July 10th.
Heber-Kamas District Ranger Dano Jauregui says the event happens somewhere in the US every year.
“We had a chance to sit down with the event coordinator this year," Jauregui explained. "They explained to us what their objectives were. Kind of come back and get in touch with nature, have a relaxing atmosphere, put on some classes, and do some group stuff for about a week.”
This is the groups 39th anniversary of the event. The original Round River Rendezvous was held near Moab in 1980. The group usually holds the annual event on public lands including other national forests. Jauregui says they’ve spoken with event organizers and other district offices that have hosted the groups before. Jauregui says after their discussions and research they approved the permits.
“The special use permit that they applied for is general," Jauregui continued. "Just like anybody else that is going to hold a gathering of 75 or more people on the forest. We have expectations of what the ground looks like prior to them leaving. Certain kinds of conditions about where maybe they can minimize resource impacts. Where they’ll camp and set up kind of things like that. So, we did approve their permit after our meeting last week.”
Event organizers guess somewhere between 150 and 300 people will attend at some point during the week.
The groups website says they believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox to defend natural spaces. That includes grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching.
Jauregui says they don’t expect any sort of protests or destruction of property during their time in Wasatch County.
“It doesn’t take much to Google and to find out some background," Jauregui said. "They did explain to us that there are two kinds of facets to how this all operates. They've got the demonstration or the protest portion that is not associated with this event. This is something where they come out and they kind of enjoy the peace, Mother Nature, and use of the forest, so forth. That other aspects of their movement is all about is not associated with this part here. So, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of concern at this point right now, nothing that raised any red flags. We did give some particular expectation how we anticipated or expected them to be on the forest when they’re out there.”
Jauregui says that between those there for the rendezvous and others looking to enjoy the Uinta’s they expect limited camping and gathering spaces in the forest during the fourth of July weekend.
“With the Fourth of July being on a Thursday we expect folks to be out there four to five days," Jauregui explained. "A lot of use, high elevation stuff is still under snow or really wet. So, were congregating a lot more people in the lower elevations and I'm thinking space is going to be limited. Plan for a long enjoyable weekend.”
Calls to organizers of the event were not returned. You can find more information about the Round River Rendezvous here.