Art Project Threatens the Arkansas River

The artist Christo Javacheff, creator of The Gates project in Central Park, has proposed a massive industrial-scale art project for Colorado’s Arkansas River. First envisioned in 1992, Over the River would suspend translucent fabric panels above 5.8 miles of the river in several segments along the 45 miles of Bighorn Sheep Canyon. While the artist’s vision may seem compelling, the nuts and bolts of making it happen are quite another matter. The recently released Final Environmental Impact Statement, published by the US Bureau of Land Management, notes threats to fishery health and the riparian zone, as well as “significant adverse impacts” to access for the angling public and to the economic viability of the region’s angling industry. The report notes that more than 9,000 anchor holes will be drilled in or adjacent to the riparian zone in order to support the 1,100 cables that will cross the river at eight to twenty feet off the water. And while the impacts have been analyzed and clearly described, the BLM has required no mitigation for these impacts in its support for the project.

The Over the River project as proposed would take two years to construct, two to four weeks to display, and about a year to dismantle. During that period, angling access would be severely curtailed; this on a river that was recently found by a Division of Wildlife survey to be the most popular fishery in Colorado. Opponents of the project, including ArkAnglers, LLC and Arkansas River Fly Shop, have filed a lawsuit in district court against the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Division of Parks and Wildlife. The complaint alleges that the DNR ignored its own regulations and established processes in a rush to approve use of state lands by Over the River prior to release of the Environmental Impact Statement. In addition to the previously mentioned impacts, the report projects impacts to terrestrial, avian, and aquatic wildlife.

Read More (Via: Orvis News)

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