Forest Service helps restore 'Rainbow Gathering' site - Albuquerque Journal

Forest Service helps restore ‘Rainbow Gathering’ site

The entrance to the annual Rainbow Gathering as seen on Friday, July 2, in the Carson National Forest. The Forest Service estimated about 5,000 people were camped at the site during the event’s peak, and the agency worked with the group to restore conditions. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Peace, love…. and latrine cleanup?

The Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico has asked visitors to “tread lightly” along Forest Road 76 after the agency restored a site where thousands of free spirits gathered earlier this summer.

The Rainbow Family of Living Light held its annual gathering from late June through the first week in July on the Camino Real Ranger District near Taos.

Forest Service teams estimated about 5,000 people camped out during the event’s July 4 peak, when the group prayed for world peace from sunrise to noon.

Groups of more than 75 must have a permit for forest events.

The Forest Service and the Rainbow Family used a native seed mix to restore grass growth to a site where 5,000 people camped earlier this summer for the annual Rainbow Gathering. (Courtesy of USDA Forest Service)

But Hilary Markin, a Forest Service spokesperson, said the group refused, claiming that no one member can represent them in the permit process.

“In lieu of a permit, we worked with them to minimize environmental damage,” Markin said.

The group first told the Forest Service about the planned event days before arriving on the federal land.

The agency responded by treating the “incident” like a fire or other natural disaster, with a resource protection plan, management team and rehabilitation plan.

The Rainbow Family could not be reached for comment about the event and cleanup.

According to their website, the loosely-affiliated group “expounds a vision of cooperation and coexistence for the healing and the betterment of humankind.”

Annual events that draw global participants are a “chance to cleanse, rejoice, celebrate and become in beautiful ways.”

Markin said the forest team worked with the Rainbow Family during and after the event on a watershed-focused effort to protect soil health, water quality, archaeological sites and sensitive wildlife species.

1932469
Mulch is delivered to the main parking area of the Rainbow Gathering on the Carson National Forest to help cover up user-made trails. (Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

About 20 Rainbow affiliates stayed behind after the event concluded to ensure the group cleared out and cleaned up.

“It involved removing trash, man-made structures like ovens, fire rings, swing sets, and mounding the latrines so they don’t settle in a way that would create depressions and catch water,” Markin said.

Restoration work also included reseeding and mulching bare earth worn down by campers and covering up user-made trails.

“We’re already starting to see plant growth from that native seed mix, which is really encouraging,” Markin said.

Forest Road 76 is still “in bad shape” from rains and increased use, Markin said.

The first Rainbow Gathering was held in 1972 in northern Colorado. Before this year, events had been hosted on the Gila National Forest in 1977, the Carson in 1995 and the Santa Fe in 2009.


Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
States mostly defer to union guidance for on-set gun ...
ABQnews Seeker
Safety standards developed by film studios ... Safety standards developed by film studios and labor unions are the primary protection for actors and film crews when a scene calls for using ...
2
Vigil to be held at Civic Plaza for cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico community will come ... The New Mexico community will come together to remember filmmaker Halyna Hutchins. The 42-year-old director of photography was killed on the set of 'Rust' ...
3
Halyna Hutchins remembered as a gifted cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless ... Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless dreamer' and 'adrenaline junkie'
4
APS bus drivers get a pay boost amid ongoing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Board of Education OKs hiring, referral ... Board of Education OKs hiring, referral bonuses as rate reaches $18 per hour
5
City: Official not drunk in accident
ABQnews Seeker
Allegation was made by Gonzales against ... Allegation was made by Gonzales against COO in mayoral debate with Keller
6
Las Cruces educator named NM Teacher of the Year
ABQnews Seeker
Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico ... Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico in the national competition
7
Albuquerque's outdoors access lands it on a good list
ABQnews Seeker
Outside Magazine named Albuquerque one of ... Outside Magazine named Albuquerque one of its 20 top cities and towns to live in on its annual list.
8
Search warrant, 911 calls detail deadly incident on movie ...
ABQnews Seeker
Actor, producer Alec Baldwin shocked and ... Actor, producer Alec Baldwin shocked and saddened at tragic incident that left colleague dead
9
Governor to tout public works deal in DC visit
ABQnews Seeker
Lujan Grisham to visit the White ... Lujan Grisham to visit the White House, meet with congressional leaders