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Carson National Forest cleans up after Rainbow Family event

The entrance to the annual Rainbow Gathering on July 2 in the Carson National Forest, outside Taos, N.M. The U.S. Forest Service has conducted extensive cleanup activities after the large, informal gathering attended by thousands of people, officials said. (Cedar Attanasio/Associated Press file)

TAOS, N.M. – The U.S. Forest Service has conducted extensive cleanup activities after a large, informal gathering attended by thousands of people in a remote area of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, officials said.

Officials estimate that 5,000 people attended the dispersed camping and recreational event staged in late June and early July by a group known as the Rainbow Family of Living Light.

The group didn’t apply for a use permit for the gathering but worked with the Forest Service afterward to clean and rehabilitate the site, agency officials said.

Work required because of the high concentration of visitors in one area include: rehabilitating user-created trails; covering bare spots with mulch and removing trash, abandoned camping supplies and human-made structures such as fire rings, officials said in a statement.

Other work included covering latrines, raking and loosening compacted soils and then reseeding those areas with a native seed mix.

The annual gathering was first held in 1972 in Colorado and typically draws about 10,000 people to a single forest. Regional meet-ups were held this year because of COVID-19 concerns.