Christo Wins Long Battle To Destroy Arkansas River

You didn’t need it anyway, as the Pueblo Chieftain’s Tracy Harmon reports:

An elated Christo spoke of his happiness Monday after clearing a major hurdle for his Over the River artwork slated for August 2014.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s final record of decision was released earlier in the day ending a grueling Environmental Impact Statement review that amassed more than 1,600 pages of detailed analysis.

It was a huge victory for the artist who wants to suspend 5.9 miles of translucent fabric panels high above the Arkansas River in eight different segments of a 42-mile stretch between Canon City and Salida…

Colorado native Ken Salazar, who oversees the BLM as secretary for the Department of the Interior, announced Monday that he believes the effects of the project can be mitigated.

“After careful consideration of the potential impact to the Arkansas River and the wildlife and plants that inhabit this beautiful area, we believe that steps have been taken to mitigate the environmental effects of this one-of-a-kind-project,” Salazar said. “Drawing visitors to Colorado to see this work will support jobs in the tourism industry and bring attention to the tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities in this area.”

Either that, or it’s going to ensnare bighorn sheep, kill trout and other aquatic life faster than you can say “Summitville,” and drown rafters by the unsuspecting boatload. And we can’t wait to see what a round of golfball-size Colorado hailstones does to this thing. But at long last, French artist Christo might really get to drape his 5.9 miles of very well-secured fabric “Over the River.”

Sorry! We just realized we sound exactly like Dick Lamm thumbing down the 1976 Olympics. None of that bad stuff is going to happen, that’s why they beat the hell out of Christo for all these years to prove it in 1,600 pages or less. It’s going to be great for tourism, too–thousands of artsy French couples in little matching berets filling up hotel rooms and spending their Euros.

After which, since we know Tom Tancredo is getting a little concerned, they will leave.

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24 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. I grew up in Southern Colorado, in the heart of the Arkansas River – the proud, steel-mill town of Pueblo, Colorado

    I am EXCITED that one of the most world-renowned installionist-artists will be bringing his artwork to what I consider to be one of the MOST beautiful parts in the world – Southern Colorado

    I am an artist myself, with an MFA in Film Directing

    What Christo is doing is taking on a project that will combine the most beautiful aspects of human creation with the most beautiful aspects of the Lord’s creation, in creating a public display, that we hope, will prove that our existence as humans is an enhancement to the world around us, not a detraction – it’s an artistic experiment that Colorado should be proud to host, because we were picked on the basis of our most wonderful asset: beauty.

    And not to toot my own horn, but part of my college major was in Environmental Science and Geology and I don’t see anything about Christo’s project that environmentally harms the environs, especially when you consider that it will only be a 2 week display

    NOTE to Christo – as a Southern Colorado boy, fellow artist, and environmental scientist, I welcome you to the beautiful State of Colorado with open arms!

  2. DaftPunk says:

    I can’t wait to book a rafting trip and some hotel rooms.  I’m sure my liberal elitist east coast relatives will fly in just to see it, after enjoying “the Gates” in Central Park.  God forbid the Colorado economy take any of their tainted socialist money.

    The carping reminds me of the haters who griped about the US Pro cycling challenge gumming up the roads.  

  3. caroman says:

    Not sure how you can “destroy” a river by suspending some material over a part of it for two weeks.  

    It’s a pretty goofy idea to me, but I can tolerate it for a one-time, short-term event that has no lasting negative effects.

  4. The realist says:

    Many of the same people who complain about it will ultimately wise up and look for ways to profit from it.  I understand that folks who live in and near the Bighorn Sheep Canyon are concerned about crowds, traffic during the event — they might be able to take a really nice vacation somewhere else during that time and rent their house for big bucks to someone who wants to be in the area then.

  5. Gray in Mountains says:

    I once worked on a Christo project. It was a lot of fun. Granted it did not have ANY opposition or involve anything but an urban park environment.

    nevertheless, I am looking forward to fishing below the drape.

    The main legitimate concerns I’ve heard are for emergency traffic around Cotopaxi, Coaldale, etc. I do think those can be mitigated.

  6. abraham says:

    I cannot imagine anything that would be a greater capstone for a visitor to Colorado who, having savored the exquisite Blue Stallion with Red Eyes, statue at DIA than to gaze upon the Royal Gorge (an admittedly drab natural phenonmenon) draped with an orange curtain.

    Should guarantee many wonderful moments for families to share over holiday meals as they reminisce.

  7. The realist says:

    you might not know that there’s already been one major benefit:  Hundreds of unused railroad box cars have been parked along the unused track west of the Gorge.  They were a significant eyesore, just across the river which runs next to the highway. They were there because of our recession economy — just stored because of insufficient demand for use.  Christo is paying to have the stored RR cars moved somewhere else.

    • gaf says:

      to have the stored RR cars moved [to be a significant eyesore] somewhere else.”??

      • They were really an eyesore in that canyon.  Hopefully wherever they’re moved to is somewhere that can reclaim them, and not just somewhere in some isolated stretch of railroad track in the middle of the plains for convenience sake.

        • gaf says:

          I am also glad they are out (or will be out), but my understanding is they were simply being stored there until (they hope) rail traffic picks up and they are again needed. So I expect they are being stored and are being a eyesore somewhere else. Good for the Ark, not so good for someone else. My point was that it is likely a problem relocated, not a problem solved.

  8. WestDem says:

    Having read the EIS, and, living in Salida, this is sort of like death panels and the health care debate.  Reading through the public comments is a fun and entertaining thing.  Things like “it will destroy the pristine canyon” without realizing that the canyon is nowhere near pristine with the prior industrial activity such as mining, railroads, power and phone lines and traffic.  Oh, and those “houses” that the Nimbys complaining about the project live in.

    Granted, I would hate to live in Howard or Cotopaxi during the construction, but frankly, the delays are no more than those during the typical highway construction, probably less.  And during the project, I hope to rent out my house for the two weeks and pay a few months mortgage, and if I lived in Howard, I would do the same.

    As a boater with kids, I cannot wait to give them the once in a lifetime opportunity to float under this project.  Just like the pro cycling challenge – life is about the experiences.

    We can debate the value of art in society, but frankly that is in the eye of the beholder.  My biggest sympathy is for those with the opinion that $50 million is a bit indulgently excessive for a two week art display, and that the money would be better spent on schools or something useful.  But, it is not my money, your money, or taxpayer dollars; the expense will ultimately be Cristo’s, and the result will likely be a cleaner canyon than now exists.

  9. AndrewBateman says:

    I hard the privilege of meeting Jeanne-Claude and Christo shortly before Jeanne-Claude passed away from complications of a brain aneurysm.

    The two of them were fascinating together. And the spoke extensively about their work on the Over-The-River project.

    There is certain to be debates over the merits of the piece itself; whether it is “good” art. But that’s also the point of art, to make people discuss it.

    But the hard fact is that fans of the artists (as well as experience-tourists who just want to be able to say they saw it) will come from all over the world to see this, especially given that this was the last project that the two worked on together. And that is good for Colorado.

    Will I go see it? Probably not. It’s not my kind of art. But I support the project and I am happy to hear that the environmental concerns have been addressed and that the project will go forward.

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