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Rainbow Defense

From the Steamboat Pilot Forum, a resident gives a first hand account of the site cleanup

Local's visit to Rainbow site Sunday July 17th
Posted by: Another_Local
Message posted: Mon Jul 17, 2006, 8:17 am

I visited the Rainbow site yesterday. I parked at the main entrance to the site and walked about 7-10 miles of trails through the area. I can not say that I covered all of it, but I think I got a pretty comprehensive view of the clean-up effort. I walked up the main valley and up and down several of the side trails as well as along the upper bench where many camps were located.

Before you get to the entrance, you pass the "A" camp. At that area there was one tent still standing, a few chairs around a fire ring, several (3-4) bags of trash all ready to go. There was no other trash or stuff to indicate that a bunch of people had been there.

At the main entrance there is a huge amount of trash. It is still there because several people (at the time I was there) are going through it ITEM by ITEM to separate it for recycling. They are making one pile of plastic (water bottles and such) another of glass and another of metal. Then they are bagging trash and separating out things like still usable tents etc. This is by far the worst area as it is still a working area. Do not assume the rest is like that if you just drive up and turn around and leave. You need to get out of your car and walk a few miles to see what is really going on.

Once you cross the little bridge over the creek there, there are some more bags and piles of stuff staged for sorting. At the side of the road there are pick-up sized loads of trash ready to be driven out. I took a few bags that would fit in my vehicle.

I saw a FS law enforcement officer at the entrance area. He was talking for a few minutes with the people working there. They seemed to visit pleasantly, then he drove away. He never got out of the car. It is very clear that ALL of the clean-up work is being done by the Rainbows present with no help, direction or management from anyone.

In the gathering area itself, there are still a handfull of camps made up of the people doing the clean-up work. In those camps, there are still fire-pits, tents etc. All around the rest of the gathering area, the signs of the camps are disappearing. Fire pits, latrines, compost pits are filled in. Trash is already gone. In all the miles of walking trails I picked up a tent stake that I saw. I did not see EVEN ONE other piece of trash and I was looking.

The people working have shovels, picks, rakes etc. As they finish working on a camp area or trail they "close" it by marking it with a branch across the trail. Rocks from fire rings are scattered and turned burned side down. Ashes are raked into the top-soil. Small plants have been transplanted into hard used areas. Pine needles and pine cone debris have been raked out from under trees and spread as mulch.

Where trails crossed creeks the small bridges that were built to protect the fragile stream banks have been removed when the rehab of the trail is complete. In a couple of places where trails were on steeper terrain, water bars have been dug to divert run-off and prevent future erosion.

I spoke to many of the approximatly 50-100 people I saw working up there. They were welcoming and nice to me. They offered me coffee in one of the worker camps (PK) They were proud of the clean-up and justifiably so. I took about 100 pictures.

I believe that if you go back there later this year most signs of the gathering will be gone. It is already in better shape than the vehicle accessable camps in Whiskey Park are. A year from now it will be impossible to tell a large group was there.

The before and after stuff you have seen on the news in not fairly presented. The shots were taken while over 1000 people were still there and the clean-up had not really begun.

Re: Local's visit to Rainbow site Sunday July 17th
Posted by: Another_Local
Message posted: Mon Jul 17, 2006, 11:07 am

To some specific points raised:

"*Parvo - you can't see it, but its there."

And it is here in town too and has been for years. It was here BEFORE the Rainbows arrived and it will be here afterward.

"*Human Waste Contamination - Saturation of feces and urine into the ground soil."

Buried. Our county health officer said he will be going back up to do water samples. I'll wait and see what he reports. His inital "after" report in the newspaper a few days ago was that he was impressed with the clean-up. I suspect that we will find that the locations chosen for latrines were outside of the water drainages. The ones I saw and photographed were well sited and well reclaimed.

"*Some RFs have hepatits - the virus which can live outside its host for quite awhile. The disease is eventually fatal and its a nasty way to live."

I guess a new rumor has to come up each week. Is this the one for this week? (Parvo was last week)

"*Degredation of forest floor and institution of unwanted trails."

Yep. Some will be invisible within a month. I would bet most nearly all gone next year and completly gone after that. Do you want to make a date to hike up there with me next July and have a look?

"*Hundreds of pounds of dog feces in and around the Big Red Park area. Trails are covered with it, and the stench from dog poo is evident."

Nope. Simply not true. Did not see any, did not smell any at all in the Gathering area. (By the way, the Gathering was not in Big Red Park. It was a few miles away from there)

Re: Local's visit to Rainbow site Sunday July 17th
Posted by: Another_Local
Follow-up to: Local's visit to Rainbow site Sunday July 17th

"Please do not forget that the real issue is the amount of people...the 15,000 people... Most hunting camps don't have 15,000 lets compare apples to apples please."

1. The 15K number comes from the FS. The Rainbows estimate it was more like 10K. Still a huge number. The FS is motivated to inflate the number to justify the budget.

2. We do actually get thousands of campers in North Routt in any given Summer. They are spread out even further, but the impact is greater due to the spread, the trash left behind, the firepits, the toilet paper and the vehicle use.

"They camped in an area that is not desginated for that use and they created unwanted trails, fire pits, etc..etc.."

Actually, camping is allowed in that area. No motorized vehicles are allowed (posted) and none were in the gathering site. They did create trails and fire pits. Trails occur where people go. Fire pits are allowed in the National Forest and are widely found in the N Routt area. The fire pits in the gathering site were permitted and will be gone including any that were there when they arrived. The trails will take some time, but they too will disappear if they are not used. Most will be hard to find by this time next year. Having been up there and seen it with my own eyes I now believe what the Rainbows have said all along about the clean-up.

The biggest impact of trail making in N Routt comes from vehicles throughout the National Forest. Off road ATVS, motorcycles, 4WD etc have much more impact measured in area of turf torn up, vegitation destroyed and erosion control problems than the cummulative total of the trails made during the last two weeks.

"I pick up my trash, empty out the ashes in the fire pit, pick up cans/bottles from the fire pit and haul it all out."

I must admit that I have not cleared the ashes from established camps, but I do also bring out my trash. Those of us who use that area regularly and take care of our own trash know that not all of our neighbors do so.

"I camp in a designated area where my $$ paid to the forest service is used to keep these camping spots up to the level the FS requires. I camp in desginated camping areas in the Big Red / Whiskey / Dead Mexican area. I pay for registration for my vehicles...atv's...campers."

Sometimes I camp in the designated campgrounds. Other times we just camp in the woods with no fee required. Pretty much all of the Forest Fervice land up there is open for camping and many folks, especially hunters set up pretty long term camps in non designated campsites.

Been there. Seen it myself.
Posted by: Another_Local
Message posted: Tue Jul 18, 2006, 6:25 am
Follow-up to: "Time nor patience..."?

"You are capable of asserting that RF's infected with Hepatitis is not true? How would you know? Did you poll them in an "unorganizational" health history questionnaire?"

Numbers, you are the one that is asserting something. I am questioning it. You have put several stories out that ended up being nothing more than rumors. What is the basis for YOUR assertion about these things? Did you poll anyone?

Are you hearing these stories elsewhere and just blindly repeating them? Mister bathers never happened. Fingers in the food/dumpster-diver never happened. Shoplifters reported by all stores at 20-30 per day was not true. Parvo did not come here with the Rainbow it was already here. Hepatitis the new one... I have heard no substantiation beyond your assertions. "Dog shit everywhere" is simply not true; there was none at all. 50 dogs abandoned was another stretch of the facts. All these stories turn out to be either false or grossly exagerated.

I must admit, after weeks of this and, now that it is winding down, I find my self more sympathetic to the Rainbows side of things than I was at the beginning. I went up there and walked the trails and met the people working. They are doing a good job restoring the forest which is what I posted about. I saw it with my own eyes.

Re: Been there. Seen it myself.
Posted by: Another_Local
Message posted: Tue Jul 18, 2006, 7:59 am
Suggest removal
Follow-up to: Re: Been there. Seen it myself.


You are right that we all see different things and we see them in different ways. I also suspect you are right that we were in different areas. I parked and walked through the gathering a couple of times. Once on July 1st, again the 3rd and still again last Sunday. What you see from the ground inside is quite a bit different than what you see from the road. The folks with the flag were at Crystal Kitchen if I read the reports right. (I did not see the flag, but I was not looking at that place when I drove by it) That group is part of the whole gathering thing, but were located several miles away from the main gathering along the road in.

The grocery store stories have been shown to be false rumors as reported by both the Pilot (last Sunday) and the Local (a couple of issues ago) and by my own questions to the store managers when I was there shopping myself. That goes for the misters, the fingers and the shoplifting. I was not refering to the blotter in this case, although I did find the ommission questionable a few weeks ago when we were all discussing it the first time around.



Pray for Peace

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