Clark The following was provided to the Steamboat Pilot & Today and other media from the National Forest Service:
Today, Forest Supervisor Mary Peterson denied an application from an individual for a permit to allow the Rainbow Family to gather on National Forest Land in North Routt County.
Approximately 2,000 people are at the Rainbow Family gathering site and the numbers continue to grow daily. More than 200 citations already have been issued.
The application was received for a permit Wednesday, June 19, over a week after the event became an illegal gathering when the group exceeded the 74 people group size limit. The permit was denied because it did not meet criteria set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations for noncommercial group uses.
The reasons for denial include:
The area proposed for the event is accessed by one road, providing inadequate ingress/egress in case of a large fire. A significant amount, 60% - 70% across the landscape, of the forest surrounding the area is dead or dying from the extensive beetle epidemic. Forest conditions are ripe for large fires. In recent years, large fires with rapid spread are more frequent than they have been in the past. This situation poses a public safety hazard.
The event poses conflicts with existing uses for businesses that have Priority Permits and have activities planned in the area at the same time as the gathering.
Forest Supervisor Peterson stated, "The group showed up without any coordination with the Forest Service, even after numerous attempts. Events of this magnitude require planning and careful consideration of public safety and natural resource protection. No one is exempt." Forest Service officials first attempted working with members of the Rainbow Family in September, 2005, for this year's gathering.
Large groups have a constitutional right to gather on National Forest System lands. They also have the legal responsibility to attain the required special use permit. The permit establishes the time, place, and manner in which the gathering can take place. The permit process and requirements have been upheld by the Supreme Court and do not interfere with constitutional rights.