Forest Service News Release
Contact: Hilary Markin
Phone: (575) 425-0710
Rainbow Gathering Incident on Carson National Forest
Taos, NM – June 30, 2021 – The Rainbow Family of Living Light national gathering is currently occurring on the Carson National Forest along the Forest Road 76 corridor approximately 8 miles from the intersection of Highway 518 and Forest Road 76.
The Rainbow Family is a loose-knit group of people from throughout the United States and other countries. Each summer they hold a national gathering to pursue social and spiritual activities and pray for world peace. The event has taken place on a different national forest every year since 1972. Crowds range from 2,000 to 10,000 forest visitors.
The height of the gathering coincides with the upcoming July 4 holiday weekend.
The Forest Service has assigned an incident management team to the incident that has experience with past gatherings. The team is working in unified command with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office as well as 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.
An event of this size can have significant impacts on traffic, local resources, residents and visitors. Local businesses can expect to see large numbers of Rainbow Family participants visiting stores and buying food and supplies within the vicinity of the gathering.
Traffic may become congested along Highway 518 near the intersection of Forest Road 76 this week into next. Visitors are encouraged to use caution traveling in the area and to slow down.
“Please slow down and use caution when visiting the National Forest this holiday weekend and especially in the area of the Highway 518 and Forest Road 76 corridor,” said James Duran, forest supervisor for the Carson National Forest.
The Forest Service does require a special use permit for every public group of 75 people or more conducting a meeting or event on National Forest System lands. The Rainbow Family has consistently refused to comply with the permit process during national gatherings. They claim to have no leaders and no one member of the family who can speak for the group to sign a permit on behalf of the family. The Forest Service has periodically cited Rainbow Family members for failing to obtain a permit. However, in the interest of public health and safety, the Forest Service puts together resource design criteria for the gathering site to ensure sensitive resources are protected, minimize environmental damage and coordinate post-event clean-up and rehabilitation of the gathering site – conducted by the Rainbow Family.
“Our resource professionals and Law Enforcement officials are on site monitoring to ensure the resource design criteria is being followed,” said Duran. “All of our visitors are reminded to obey all federal, state and local laws and regulations when visiting the national forest.”
The Carson National Forest is lifting fire restrictions on Wednesday at 8 a.m. due to and favorable weather conditions and an increase in firefighting resources being available.
With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, visitors are reminded that possessing, igniting, discharging, or using any kind of fireworks is always prohibited on National Forest System lands. More information is available on the Carson National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/carson.