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Rainbow Defense

http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3964660
Article Launched: 06/22/2006 01:00:00 AM MDT

denver & the west

Forest Service ends checkpoint

Discord over Rainbow Family event

By Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Staff Writer

Forest Service officials on Wednesday removed a checkpoint that had become a flashpoint for an uncharacteristic uprising by the peace-espousing Rainbow Family, a counterculture group gathering near Clark for its annual dose of feral, communal life.

The move came after the Forest Service said nearly 200 Rainbows surrounded 15 forest rangers and pelted them with sticks and stones Tuesday as they attempted to control the flow of people in and out of the site and issue citations because no one has filed for a large-gathering permit.

The confrontation forced rangers to retreat.

"We have disbanded our checkpoint that we had the other day, but we still have a significant law enforcement presence in there patrolling the area," said Denise Ottaviano, spokeswoman for the agency.

Meanwhile, the Rainbows could be facing more bad news: Increasing wildfire danger may prompt Routt County and the Forest Service to enact a ban on open fires as early as next week.

"All of the indications, from the fuel moisture ... the dry weather, the high temps, there's definitely high fire danger," Ottaviano said.

Tensions between the amorphous, leader-less Rainbows and the Forest Service - as well as some residents in communities near the gatherings - have flared frequently in previous years.

The government argues that someone needs to file for the free permit and be responsible for ensuring that natural resources aren't damaged and that regulations are followed. Rainbow Family members counter that no one is in charge of the gathering and that they have a right to assemble on public lands.

"They claim to have no leaders, no organization, no membership. But it doesn't matter. We've given them ample time and opportunities to work with us and get a permit, and they have not done so at this point," Ottaviano said.

Participants in the gathering, located in a remote area about 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs, could not be reached by cellphone for comment Wednesday.

Rangers on Monday began issuing citations to members of the clan who arrived early in anticipation of the July 4 climax that Forest Service officials estimate could attract up to 25,000 modern-day hippies.

By Tuesday, tempers flared after rangers warned newcomers not to go into the gathering without taking a citation - punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine - and threatening to cite anyone leaving the area who intended to return, sparking the melee.

Staff writer Steve Lipsher can be reached at 970-513-9495 or slipsher@denverpost.com.
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Rainbow gatherings In Colorado

1972: Roosevelt National Forest: attendance not available

1992: Gunnison National Forest: 18,275

Over the past five years

2001: Boise National Forest, Idaho: 18,000

2002: Ottawa National Forest, Michigan: 7,000

2003: Bridger-Teton National Forest, Utah: 10,000

2004: Modoc National Forest, California: 19,000

2005: Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia: 9,000

 

 

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