Fallsville, Arkansas -- Members of the Rainbow Family, whose annual gathering of thousands of people has worried the Forest Service in the past, are setting up camp in the Ozark National Forest this year.
The mix of eccentrics, young people and hippie types from around the country has been meeting for decades each year in a national forest somewhere in the U.S. to pray for peace and to celebrate love.
Such a large group can harm forests, so the Forest Service has developed a team to "manage the impacts of Rainbow Family national gatherings." Rainbow Family members say they always leave some members behind after the gathering to reseed damaged areas, cover all fire pits and remove bridges created over streams.
Denise Ottaviano, spokeswoman for the Forest Service at Albuquerque, N.M., is working out of Fort Smith during this year's gathering. Rainbow events often attract 10,000 to 25,000 people, she said.
The Family calls itself the "largest non-organization of non-members in the world" on its Web site. The "non-members" are "into intentional community building, nonviolence, and alternative lifestyles."
"We also believe that peace and love are a great thing, and there isn't enough of that in this world," the site says.
The gathering this year is scheduled for July 1-7, with the main day of prayer July 4.