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Opinion: Over the River project is an artistic boondoggle

A conceptual rendering of what Over the River might look like. IMAGES COURTESY OVER THE RIVER WEBSITE.

Colorado’s rivers don’t need artificial improvements or enhancements

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After traveling 14,000 miles and inspecting 89 rivers in the Rocky Mountains, you’d think that Christo would come to the realization that our spectacular streams don’t need much in the way of artistic improvement. Yet the Bulgarian-born artist continues to pursue his Over The River project despite serious opposition, criticism and questions from citizen groups, hunters and anglers and even the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The installation has also drawn some public support, notably from Gov. Hickenlooper, who cited the potential statewide tourism benefits of the project, and from the Colorado State Parks board, which, for reasons many people don’t understand, voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Christo that promises to address and mitigate the project’s impacts. By some estimates, the installation could attract anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million visitors to the area.

The industrial-scale installation would involve temporarily draping more than five miles of fabric paneling across a wild stretch of the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida. After finding little support for his concept in the Arkansas Valley, Christo today is appearing in Eagle County at a Vail Symposium event that’s part of an arts in education series (July 19, 5 p.m. at the Lodge at Vail). Continue reading

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River-draping project has risks for trout, water quality

A rendering of what the Over the River project might look like. Click on the image to see a gallery.

Colorado Trout Unlimited says initial draft study on art project is lacking mitigation and remediation details

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A proposal to drape fabric over several miles of the Arkansas River could result in land disturbance along the shoreline with the risk of increased sediments in the trout-rich waters, and potentially even increase the risk of a chemical or fuel spill, Colorado Trout Unlimited director Dave Nickum wrote in a Sept. 14 comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management.

The fishery conservation group outlined a series of concerns in the letter, asking the BLM to address all the issues in its final environmental impact statement for the proposal. The agency is taking public comment on the project and will issue a final environmental impact statement next year.

The Over the River Project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude involves covering several miles of the Arkansas River Canyon between Canon City and Salida with translucent fabric. The artists are known for large-scale projects that blend human elements into the natural landscape at a sometimes alarming scale. Continue reading

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