Contact: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer 970-729-2028
August 17, 2016, -- (Norwood, CO) – San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters is issuing a cautionary warning to the Norwood community as hundreds of people are expected to gather and camp this Sunday for one week on US Forest Service land just outside of Norwood for what’s called a “Rainbow Gathering.” Dozens are already setting up camp in the area and incidents requiring law enforcement have already started.
Rainbow Gatherings are festival-type events held in remote forests all over the world forming temporary “Rainbow Families” of self-described “old hippies” with the shared goal of creating a culture free of capitalism, consumerism, and mass media. This event is gathering in the West Beaver Park and west Beaver Creek drainage east of Lone Cone on federal forest service land.
Sheriff Masters says sanitation issues are expected to be problematic. “They are digging their own latrines to do their business in there, and that’s just not safe or appropriate.” Sheriff Masters says it is concerning knowing there will be human waste collecting from hundreds of people for several days. “This is fragile, forest service land, and this is not good for the environment and could pose public health risks.”
In 1987 a Rainbow Gathering in North Carolina experienced an outbreak of Shigellosis, known as dysentery, which causes severe diarrhea.
The first Rainbow Gathering, according to Wikipedia, was held in Colorado in 1972 and the group, which states it has no hierarchy, no leaders or organizers and welcomes all with shared ideology, is known for excessive drug and alcohol use.
The area planned for the event is in USFS jurisdiction and the San Miguel Sheriff has concurrent jurisdiction. “We have established contact with some of the individuals gathered and have already had a few incidents, and the event hasn’t even started yet,” Sheriff Masters said.
Sheriff Masters says he and his deputies are working closely with the USFS and are ready for any misconduct. But he says “I expect everyone attending this event to respect the land, the law and our community.”
Norwood, Colorado is a small town approximately thirty-three miles Northeast of Telluride, Colorado.
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980.