Wasatch County Residents Voice Concerns About Rainbow Family Gathering

Heber City (ABC 4 News) - An estimated 10,000 members of the Rainbow Family are coming to Wasatch County but local residents don't think there's any pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. In fact, taxpayers are concerned they're going to take a major hit from the group's annual gathering.

The Rainbow Family has already started arriving and setting up camps along the West Fork of the Duchesne River in the Uinta National Forest.

On Thursday night about 200 people attended an informational meeting in the Wasatch High School Auditorium and heard a warning from Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner.

"What I've been told is they will not respect anything of your property," Bonner said. "If it's out, they're going to take it so you need to be careful."

"The riff raff. I saw guys in the dumpster just yesterday at Arby's," one man complained. "Why are we doing it?"

The Rainbow Family says they have the right to assemble in the national forest - but they don't pay any fees.

"We aren't here to take advantage of any sort," a man identifying himself as "Bajer" told ABC 4 News. "We just want to be up in the National Forest and they're invited. Everybody is invited to come out. You don't have to fear anything coming out there. Our families, our children are out there. There will probably be children born out there."

At times the meeting became confrontational and heated.

"That's a lot of people," one man said to the panel. "That's a lot of crap. That's a lot of trash and that's something that we're going to have to pay for. What I want to know is where are the impact fees are for this? Who's paying for this? These guys? You write them a citation and there going to be gone in two weeks and you're not going to see it. They're in the wind. They're begging for food. OK pay the impact fee. Pay the fee and then we'll start talking."

Sheriff Bonner the people of Wasatch County are going to have to tolerate the presence of the Rainbow Family for the next several weeks and budgets will be affected. Past Gatherings have cost local taxpayers as much as $500,000.

"Is it fair? No," Bonner said. "The taxpayers are going to have to deal with it whether they like it or not. No one likes it. This many people coming in. It's a strain on law enforcement. It's a real strain on law enforcement around here. We hate it. It's not fun. It's hard on the families."

The Gathering features a World Peace Ceremony on the morning of July 4th. Some are expected to stay at the site well into the month of August.

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