Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rainbow Jah.

Tensions run high in forest
Forest Service abandons checkpoint after incident with Rainbow group

By Matt Stensland

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

CLARK — The Rainbow Family peace gathering turned hostile Tuesday when a
group of attendees began hurling rocks and sticks at law enforcement
officers, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

The incident forced the officers to abandon a checkpoint they had
established near the entrance to the Rainbow gathering campsite in North
Routt County, Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Ritschard said. Officers had
not returned to the checkpoint as of Tuesday afternoon.

The incident happened at about 11 a.m. and involved Forest Service officers
who were manning the checkpoint set up to issue citations to anyone
attempting to enter the gathering. Citations were being issued because
Rainbow Family members had not signed a free Forest Service special-use
permit, which is required for gatherings of 75 or more people.

Before the Tuesday morning incident, Forest Service officials were blocking
people from entering the gathering and telling them to "turn around," Forest
Service spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano said.

Officials said a group of about 100 people -- some of whom already were
inside the gathering area -- participated in the incident. Other
participants included people waiting outside the checkpoint who were told
they could not enter the gathering, Ritschard said.

No arrests were made, and the officers left the scene because they did not
want to escalate the situation, Ritschard said. No officers were injured.

"This incident will be investigated, and we're not exactly sure what course
of action will be taken," Ritschard said. "The Forest Service is deciding
what action to take."

In addition to Forest Service law enforcement officers, a Routt County
Sheriff's Office deputy also was at the checkpoint at the time of the
incident, Ritschard said.

"The Forest Service is very serious about the safety of our officers and
cooperators," Ritschard said.

Also Tuesday, an incomplete special-use permit application was submitted to
the Forest Service, Ritschard said. She said the application contained
profanity where the applicant was supposed to write the location of the
gathering. The application can't be accepted as submitted, Ritschard said.

Between 60 and 70 illegal gathering citations had been issued to Rainbow
gathering attendees as of Tuesday morning. As many as 20,000 people are
expected to attend the official peace gathering from July 1 to 7. About 500
people already have arrived.

Citations will be issued to people who use the closed trails or ignore other
regulations, including:

“ Public nudity

“ Camping within 150 feet of any running stream or body of water

“ Placing kitchen facilities, food preparation areas, gray water pits or
slit trenches within 300 feet of any running stream or body of water

“ Placing kitchen facilities, food preparation areas, gray water pits or
slit trenches within 150 feet of any open road

“ Cutting any standing trees in the area described as: north of Forest
Road 505, west of Forest Road 498, south of the private property in Big Red
Park and east of Forest Road 500.

Also, about 15 miles of National Forest system motorized trails (numbers
1204 and 1199) near the Rainbow gathering have been closed. Ritschard said
the trails were closed to keep the public away from the gathering.

"Most people would enjoy (trails) more at a place that is less congested,"
Ritschard said.


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