Size in rainbow pool raises environmental concerns

Rainbow gathering participants will use this large meadow near US Forest Service Trail 1144 in Adams Park as a place for thousands of people to meditate silently and pray for peace on the morning of July 4th.
John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot Today

Officials with the US Forest Service’s National Rainbow Incident Management Team say the Rainbow family participants have done a good job cleaning up and rehabilitating the site after the past several years of large gatherings on national forest land.

While repeatedly stressed 50The tenth Anniversary of an unauthorized and unauthorized North Route County rainbow raft, Forest Service officials are working quickly to complete a specific resource protection plan to help guide rainbows in Adams Park. Forest Service law enforcement officials and resource advisors will be on site to help Rainbow follow the resource plan, Hilary Markin, the Forest Service’s public information officer, said.

“The Rainbow family is doing a lot of work to rehabilitate their effects, but based on past experience, we know there will be additional work that can be done,” said Ross Bacon, National Superintendent of Forests at Medicine Bow-Routt.

With an estimated 1,000 campers already at the site on Tuesday, June 21, at the site about 25 miles north of Hayden, leaders of local nonprofit groups are concerned about the impact an estimated 10,000 people could have on the forest environment. Major concerns ranged from the potential risk of wildfires to encounters between wildlife and humans, to the volume of human waste in the forest.

Incident leader Russell Harris, in his fourth year in the position, noted, “Overall, they work well with us to protect resources, and they are very good at rehab. We are working alongside the law enforcement investigation side of the team to ensure that we leave the area as much as possible once this is over. the incident “.

Officials cite annual concerns for national gatherings including resource impacts such as fire hazard, deteriorating water quality, compacted soil, sanitation issues, and disturbances to threatened plant and animal species.

Markin said Forest Service officials believe the Rainbow Seniors have continued to improve during recent gatherings with attendees educating, indoor self-monitoring, and following design protocols established in the USFS Resource Protection Plan.

On Tuesday evening, the Incident Management Team delivered a virtual public session where 143 people logged in to listen. Markin showed photos from previous national gatherings in northern Wisconsin in 2019 and near Taos in 2021. These gatherings draw about 7,000 people each year, she said, but this summer 50The tenth The anniversary gathering is expected to attract a larger crowd.

Currently, there is no fire ban in Root County, and Craig Interagency Center It currently classifies that area, including Adams Park, as “high” for fire risk. Officials said weather and emergencies could lead to a fire ban or road closures temporarily during the event.

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The Rainbow Family has volunteer crews working on on-site preparations such as water, outdoor kitchens, toilets, security and medical care. The water team is transporting water from nearby springs, and state water resources officials note that there is no current call from water rights holders in the Adams Park area.

The Rainbow Sanitation team builds pit latrines with slotted pits or box latrines that are later buried and rehabilitated with materials such as wood chips.[ماركين]He said the USFS will work with county and state water quality officials to test water sources for public safety during and after the gathering.

The expected large number of campers coming from all over the country to attend this off-limits event has many locals and groups involved.

“The overwhelming problem cited by the residents of Route County is the very large environmental and wildlife impact of any gathering of this size, along with the fire risk, not the rainbow family per se,” said Larry Desjardins, president of Keep Routt Wild. “My general concern is the impact of the sheer size of the congregation on this area of ​​the forest, including sanitation concerns, fire concerns, and that this is occurring in an important elk breeding area.”

A large print of a bear’s paw is seen Friday, June 17, 2022, along US Forest Service Trail 1144, which leads to the main lawn for this year’s 50th Anniversary Rainbow Rally in Adams Park.
John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot Today

Just last year, the Forest Service completed a project to restore 3 miles of stream, more than 7 acres of riverine habitat and 1.5 acres of wetlands in the California Park area rich in indigenous species. The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has worked on such projects in the past as well.

“We hope that you will seek and follow recommendations to reduce your impacts on the environmental values ​​of such a special place,” said Michelle Stewart, executive director of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Longtime Rainbow Gathering participant Bright Wings, whose name is Rainbow and is the daughter of the original Rainbow founder, said during an on-site visit on June 17 that the peace promotion group had no intention of harming the land.

“We’ll get him back to as good or better than what we found. We’re not here to mess things up. Our people are trying hard to respect the land,” Brightwings said.

Rancher Megan Laley, whose family-owned Ladder Ranch extends from Carbon County, Wyoming, to Root County, said her observations from the 2006 rainbow rafting in Big Red Park in northern Root County were relatively positive. Her family obtained a permit to graze sheep from the Big Red Park Forest Service and found less litter and death after gathering than before. Lally said the ranchers needed to skip one year of grazing on one section of their permit, but thanks to the wet years, that section recovered from grazing by the second summer.

“They left things very clean. They removed a lot of losses,” Lalli said. “They had a crew that stayed for two weeks after that, and they cleaned everything up. It was a relatively small area that they heavily influenced. This area has a great traditional recreational influence anyway.”

Bacon ended the online meeting by noting that “we are working together to address and mitigate resource and public health issues and concerns as much as possible.”