Letter: Rainbow Family Gathering needs to be halted now | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Rainbow Family Gathering needs to be halted now

Letter to the editor

This week we learned that the Rainbow Family Gathering is planning to take place in the Adams Park area of Routt National Forest in Routt County July 1-7. This massive unpermitted gathering represents a serious risk to the environment, wildlife and the forest itself, particularly fire risk.

It is also a law enforcement and public health issue. Attendance is expected to be in excess of 10,000 people, with some estimates as high as 30,000. We are calling on the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Routt County Commissioners to band together to halt this event, or have it located elsewhere.

Adams Park is an area where local elk are now dropping calves. It is a CPW-indicated elk calving area and elk concentration area for the E2 Bear’s Ears elk herd, the second largest elk herd in Colorado. Adams Park is also home to numerous other species that are sensitive to the impacts of human disturbance. It is unconscionable to allow an assembly approximately the size of Steamboat Springs in this sensitive area. The impact is worsened by the fact that many in the Rainbow gathering are bringing dogs who, unleashed, pose a clear threat to local wildlife and their offspring. 

This gathering is not benign. A Forest Service report from the previous event in Routt County in 2006 can be read online at SteamboatPilot.com/news/rainbow-gathering-update/.

Among other things, the report warns of fire hazards, water and riparian issues, inadequate human and dog waste disposal, soil erosion and compaction, wildlife displacement, parking problems with 4,000 to 6,000 vehicles, tree-cutting, impacts of domestic dogs on wildlife, and violence against law enforcement officers.

This event is unauthorized and sets a terrible precedent. Our public officials shouldn’t tolerate it here in Routt County. They need to do their duty and protect our public lands and Routt County wildlife. Stop this unauthorized event.

Larry Desjardin

President of Keep Routt Wild

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