EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the Rainbow Gathering Media Update posted at 8 a.m., July 1, 2006
Clark About 6,000 people are at the illegal Rainbow Family gathering site and incoming traffic has increased. The gathering area is 35 miles north/northeast of Steamboat Springs, or about an hour's driving time. Traffic in the area is expected to increase over the weekend as gathering participants travel through Steamboat Springs to get to the gathering site for their day of prayer on July 4th. Traffic will again increase around July 7th as many gathering participants begin to leave the area.
Forest Service resource advisers are inside the gathering talking to people about fire safety, low impact camping and protecting water and other natural resources. Fire restrictions are in place. Despite it being an illegal gathering, the Forest Service is working with Rainbow member regarding public safety and health issues.
A team of 30 Forest Service law enforcement officers (LEOs) are patrolling the entire gathering area, which may involve up to 20,000 attendees at its peak attendance on July 4th. In addition, six Bureau of Land Management LEOs and 10-15 Routt County Sheriff's Deputies are assisting the Forest Service with foot patrols through the gathering area. Apbout 30 Colorado State Patrol officers are assisting with patrols on Highway 129 and Forest Roads 550 and 500. Forest Service LEOs have issued more than 500 violation notices and warnings to date, mostly for illegal occupancy and use. The second most common violation is for drug related charges. Since fire restrictions were enacted earlier this week, there have been several warnings issued for open fire violations.
The second day of federal court was held on Friday, June 30 at the North Routt Fire Station #2 for people who received violation notices at the illegal Rainbow Gathering. One hundred-ten cases were heard. Most of the people who appeared before the judge chose the option of forfeiture of collateral which required a plea of no contest and a $40 fine. Of the ten bench trials conducted, nine resulted in a guilty verdict and one case was dismissed. For the individuals who were found guilty, sentences ranged from a $10 fine, plus court fees and up to one year of unsupervised probation, and being banned from national forest land for one year. One person who was involved in an incident where Forest Service LEOs were surrounded was found guilty and sentenced to a $135 fine, one year unsupervised probation, and was banned from all national forests in the U.S. for one year. That person was ordered to leave the gathering by the next morning. That person was also ordered to contact the Forest Service by January 1, 2007, to assist the agency in the coordination of next year's national Rainbow gathering.