By HILARY MARKIN
The group called the Rainbow Family of Living Light has chosen the Carson National Forest for its 2021 national gathering. Since 1972, the group has held an annual summer camping event in a different national forest. This event will coincide with the Fourth of July holiday, and participants have already begun arriving.
The Rainbow Family pursues social and spiritual activities and prays for world peace. Crowds range from 2,000 to 10,000 in number. An event of this size can have significant impacts on traffic, communities, local resources, residents, and other visitors. Local businesses can expect to see large numbers of Rainbow Family participants visiting stores and buying food and supplies along routes to the gathering site. Forest and county roads near the forest in Taos County are expected to become congested during the event. Road closures and/or traffic detours may occur within the National Forest.
The USDA Forest Service manages the annual event in close coordination with tribal, state, and local partners, to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, and to lessen environmental impacts to the site by providing information and enforcing laws. “We understand there may be impacts to our community, our neighbors, and our forest visitors, and are working to minimize effects,” said James Duran, forest supervisor for Carson National Forest.
A forest resource protection plan for the event will address concerns about health and safety, watershed protection, natural resource protection, and rehabilitation of the event site before the group leaves. The Forest Service is mobilizing a national incident management team with experience managing these types of events. The team is working in unified command with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office and other local authorities.
A note to all: Stage 1 fire restrictions are now in effect. Fires, campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas with Forest Service-built fire rings or grills. Campfires are prohibited at all dispersed camping sites in the forest. This order also prohibits welding, using an acetylene torch, or operating any torch with an open flame within the boundaries of the Carson National Forest. Forest visitors are asked to use extreme caution when these fire restrictions are in place. You can find out more about this event at http://rainbowfamilygatherings.net/2021-rainbow-gathering/.