- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

DENVER (AP) — U.S. Forest Service officers were slugged, elbowed and pelted with a rock when they tried to arrest unruly campers at a gathering of the Rainbow Family near Steamboat Springs, officials said last week.

Last week’s confrontation was one of at least three clashes between officers and campers as thousands of the Rainbow Family gather for a weeklong outing, which officially began Saturday. None of the injuries was serious, Forest Service spokeswoman Kimberly Vogel said.

About 5,000 members of the free-spirited, loosely affiliated band of hippies have arrived at the campsite in the Routt National Forest about 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs in defiance of the Forest Service, which has refused to grant the group a permit, citing the fire danger.

About 200 campers surrounded 15 officers and became verbally abusive June 25, Miss Vogel said. As the officers tried to arrest some campers, the crowd surged forward, striking at least three officers and pulling the suspects free, Miss Vogel said. Campers are spread out in 8 square miles of meadow and forest where up to 60 percent of the trees have been killed by a beetle infestation and are vulnerable to fire, officials said.

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