Officials consider alternative sites

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— U.S. Forest Service officials say because of high fire danger there may be no suitable site in the 1.2-million acre Routt National Forest for the Rainbow Family of Living Light's annual gathering.

"We're considering right now if there are other alternatives," Forest Service spokesperson Diann Ritschard said. "We're looking at options."

The fire danger throughout the national forest is heightened because of a beetle epidemic that has left stands of dead and drying trees. Forest Service officials are concerned that a wildfire could trap Rainbow gatherers and create a potential tragedy.

On Thursday, a small, human-caused fire within the Rainbow Family gathering area was extinguished by a Forest Service employee after campers were unable to put it out, Ritschard said. Fire restrictions are expected to be enacted on the Routt National Forest and throughout Routt County sometime this week, she added.

Ritschard said the campsite issue could have been resolved long ago if Rainbow Family members had been willing to cooperate with the Forest Service. She said Forest Service officials have tried to work with the Rainbow Family since September 2005 to help them select the site for this year's gathering, which officially is the week of July 1 to 7.

"The Rainbows refuse to work with us, and so we end up in a situation like this," Ritschard said. "They do it every year."

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