Letter: How about closing the road to the Rainbow Gathering? | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: How about closing the road to the Rainbow Gathering?

To Routt County Commissioners, we are writing to express our concern about the impact of the Rainbow Family Gathering on Sandhill Cranes in the California Park and Adams Park area. It is unfortunate this group has picked this area as their annual meeting location. We are certain that cranes have recently nested in the numerous beaver ponds and small reservoirs along the Adams Creek drainage.

At this time of year, cranes will have newly hatched chicks who cannot yet fly to escape danger or harassment, and some adults may still be incubating on their nests. Elk and mule deer are also having their young right now. The potential for illegal off-road impacts to the shrubs and grasslands in California Park as the Family travels to Adams Park is enormous not only for the wildlife, but for the rangelands local ranchers depend on. The impact to wildlife and especially to the cranes, from 10,000-plus people living in this area for more than a week is potentially devastating.

We at Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition have worked hard for the last 11 years to protect cranes and their habitat in Northwest Colorado and to educate the public about conserving this iconic, ancient species. We are concerned that this one event may undo much of the good that we have accomplished during this time.

Perhaps you cannot stop these people from gathering, but you do have the ability to close Routt County Road 80 through which the Rainbow Family people are entering California Park. Routing people to Adams Park through an alternate route would help protect at least some of the cranes with newly hatched chicks.  We urge you to close C.R. 80 through at least the first week of July to help protect our Sandhill Crane population.

Nancy Merrill, Van Graham, Abby Jensen, Barry Kaplan, Gail Kellogg, Laura Shindler, Karen Whitney, Barb Hughes, Sharon Jost and Erin Gelling of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition

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