DENVER (KDVR) — The Rainbow Gathering in Routt National Forest is dwindling down, but thousands packed onto Colorado’s wilderness for the annual event. But one question that many are asking: What’s being done to preserve the forest land?
FOX31 checked in with the National Rainbow Incident Management Team, which is tasked with making sure that the event runs smoothly.
Hilary Markin, public information officer with the team, said they do recognize the gathering as unlawful, because the Rainbow Family did not get a special permit. She said any event on forest land larger than 75 people requires a permit, however, they’ve found a way to work with the members to reduce the footprint and preserve the land.
Around 10,000 attend Rainbow Gathering in 2022
On Sunday, Sunshine strums a string instrument in the grass.
“Almost 10 years now I’ve been going to Rainbow Gatherings,” Sunshine said. “I travel the country and pick up trash.”
Sunshine is one of 10,000 people to attend this year’s Rainbow Gathering in Routt National Forest, bringing their unique lifestyle back to Colorado for its 50th anniversary.
“We celebrate peace and love on Earth,” one attendee said.
The general public has expressed concern about the impact on the public forest land. Scott Shuker, an attendee, explained their perspective.
“We teach people to disappear at the camps as if no one was there,” Shuker said.
Citations issued during Rainbow Gathering in Colorado
Markin said anytime you have a large group in a national forest, it’s going to have an impact. Those impacts include eroded soil and trampled vegetation.
“They do generally as a group — loose group I guess — care for the land and want to see it rehabilitated post-gathering,” Markin said. “We are making sure that the health and safety of those that are there and making sure that any campsites are away from a water source or a latrine is away from a water source.”
She adds the Rainbow Family has been cited in years past for not having a permit, but the gathering still happens. In lieu of the permit, the team has implemented a rehabilitation plan to work together with members to clean up and restore the environment.
“We compost everything, we burn whatever we can and we carry all our trash out,” Shucker said. “We want to leave this land better than how we found it.”
Hundreds of citations from law enforcement have been issued, ranging from inoperable equipment to narcotics, including fentanyl.
Markin told FOX31 there were still about 3,000 members still at the gathering site as of Friday evening and that number is expected to drop after the weekend.