June 24, 2022 |

The Rainbow Family is downplaying estimates that 10,000 or more people could trample pristine wilderness in the Routt National Forest over the next month.

The Craig Daily Press reports that representatives from the counter-culture group estimates that only 5,000 of their live-off-the land followers may show up for the 50th Anniversary gathering that officially begins on July 1st.

About 60 people attended the meet and greet on Wednesday, which was set up by the Rainbows, who also claim that no one can represent them. The Rainbows called the meeting in hopes of alleviating fears and apprehension about the gathering and its effects on the local community and public lands.

Rainbow Family members have already started to move into the camp north of Hayden, where they have been building shared water lines and latrines. The gathering is on public land designated for dispersed camping, but it is also a favored habitat for wildlife. A big concern is the gathering’s proximity to California Park, which the Forest Service may close to protect sensitive resources.

Pictured above: Vehicles parked near the 2021 Rainbow Family Gathering in Taos, NM. Photo by Catalina Fox/Rainbow Family Gatherings Facebook Group.

The USFS is organizing a response the same way it does during a forest fire. One of the incident team members is Hillary Markin, a Forest Service public information specialist in Wisconsin, where the Rainbow “tribes” held their 48th annual gathering.

Last year, the counter-culture event descended on Carson National Forest near Taos, New Mexico. Markin said the Forest Service knew that the Rainbows were looking to assemble for the 50th gathering in Colorado where their pow-wows began in 1972.

The incident team, like everybody else, found out this past Tuesday that the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is the host site.

County Road 80 runs between Hayden and the main Rainbow gathering at site in the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District of the Routt National Forest.

According to the report in the Craig Daily Press, the 15 or so Rainbows who showed up to the public meeting Wednesday night stuck to the Family party line that theirs is a leaderless group. Individuals are “self-governed,” one said. They said they came to the public meet and greet in the city park to voice their individual views on the gathering and practices.

The Rainbows advocated for respectful personal conduct at the gathering, and discouraged the use of alcohol. Family members emphasized that their intention is to peacefully exist with local community members and with the environment at their camp.

A similar meeting will be held in Steamboat at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 28th, at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

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