Rainbow Family members gather in Routt National Forest | SteamboatToday.com

Rainbow Family members gather in Routt National Forest

Rainbow Family members march in North Routt County in 2006 during their annual gathering.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An uptick in the number of transients passing through Steamboat Springs can be attributed to the Rainbow Family of Living of Light's annual regional gathering in the Routt National Forest.

"These regional gatherings aren't thousands of people," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said. "They're a hundred plus."

The annual gathering attracts thousands of people who share common beliefs of non-violence.

This year, the annual gathering was held at the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, and it drew an estimated 12,000 people.

In 2006, Routt County became very familiar with the Rainbow Family when they chose the Routt National Forest in the northern part of the county for a gathering of an estimated 15,000 people.

Many who attended were ticketed for illegal gathering because the Rainbow gathering didn't have a special-use permit to occupy the public land. More serious citations were issued for drug possession and assault.

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Voos said a ranger went and spoke with the Rainbow Family members Monday at the Buffalo Ridge Trailhead, which is near the Wyoming border just northeast of the Zirkel Wilderness.

There were 20 to 30 people camping in the area Monday.

"We're still kind of waiting to see how many people show up," Voos said.

Sgt. Evan Noble with the Steamboat Springs Police Department said he has spoken with a Rainbow Family member passing through town who was headed to the regional gathering in the Routt National Forest.

The person told Noble that 1,200 people were expected at the regional gathering.

Voos said Forest Enforcement law enforcement officers visited the group Tuesday.

"Not that anything wrong is happening," Voos said.

Voos said the biggest concern with large groups of people camping in the woods is damage to resources.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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