Officials deny Rainbow Family permit |

Officials deny Rainbow Family permit

The Associated Press

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A request for a permit for what’s often described as a huge gathering of hippies was denied Thursday as U.S. Forest Service officials expressed concern over wildfire danger and frustration at trying to work with the group.About 2,000 people have showed up at the Rainbow Family’s gathering spot on Routt National Forest land about 30 miles northeast of here. The weeklong July 4th event is expected to draw between 15,000 and 20,000 people to the forest.”The group showed up without any coordination with the forest service, even after numerous attempts,” forest Supervisor Mary Peterson said in a statement. “Events of this magnitude require planning and careful consideration of public safety and natural resource protection. No one is exempt.”Peterson said they first tried working with members of the group in September. They received a request for a permit on Tuesday.In rejecting the request, Peterson said conditions were ripe for large fires as 60 to 70 percent of the surrounding forest is dead or dying from an extensive beetle epidemic. Only one road leads into and out of the area, which would be inadequate in case of a fire.No contact information was immediately available for the Rainbow Family, which touts itself as having no leaders, and no organization.Forty-two people from the National Incident Management Team and the Routt County sheriff’s department were patrolling the gathering. More than 200 violation notices have been issued, so far.On Monday, forest service officers drew their shotguns and abandoned a checkpoint after a group of about 80 people surrounded their vehicle. The officers left without firing a shot and there were no injuries.The group gathers each year on public lands. Last year, about 15,000 turned out for the event in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the 2004 event drew about 19,000 to the Modoc National Forest in California.Two motorized trails near the gathering near Big Red Park have been closed through Aug. 20 because it could take that long for all the participants to leave.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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