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
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
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,"
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
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
Staff writer Steve Lipsher can be reached at 970-513-9495 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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