Over the River controversy continues


The Bulgarian-born artist Christo specializes in gigantic installations -- like wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin, or arranging hundreds of fabric gates in New York City's Central Park.
For the past decade or so, he's had plans to return to Colorado with "Over the River." (His first Colorado project, an immense curtain in Rifle Gap, was about 40 years ago.) He proposes to suspend translucent panels over the Arkansas River between Salida and Canon City for a two-week period, perhaps in August of 2013. You can read more from Christo here .
Since this involves federal land, an Environmental Impact Statement is required (paid for by Christo), The Bureau of Land Management is the lead agency. About two weeks ago, the BLM released a draft environmental statement; the Pueblo Chieftain ran a pretty good summary, and all thousand-plus pages are available on-line, with a comment deadline of Aug. 30 before the final EIS is prepared.
Naturally, there's some opposition, mostly from residents along the affected canyon; the principal group appears to be ROAR (Rags Over the Arkansas River), and lately, most letters in the Salida newspaper have opposed the project.
The basis for opposition appears to have shifted from esthetic (the canyon is gorgeous as it is) and environmental (this could hurt wildlife) grounds to more practical concerns like highway congestion, inadequate local facilities and emergency access.
For my part, I remain agnostic. If it goes through, I should be able to rent my Salida house to some wealthy urban art fancier for $5,000 a week for the duration. And if local opposition kills it, tourism and real-estate prices should increase as this valley becomes known world-wide as the place that just said no to Christo.

Ed Quilen is a freelance writer in Salida, CO.

Christo Over the River
Aug 04, 2010 02:56 PM
I soooo want to see this project come to completion. I've rafted that river many times, walked beside it, dreamed it while driving, etc., and imagine the Christo touch will enhance its beauty even more. The "curtain" above will enhance water sounds, and I fail to see how it can "hurt wildlife." What wildlife would that be in that corridor who would be so harmed -- given agriculture and human impacts over the last decades and their effects? Ger over yourselves, ROARS. Join the art world!
Rags over the River (Arkansas)
Fred Rasmussen
Fred Rasmussen
Aug 07, 2010 10:07 AM
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)should have said NO to this preposterous idea 14 years ago when Christo first proposed it. Hwy 50 between Salida and Canyon City is narrow, steep. many blind curves with rocky crumbling walls. In the best of times a simple accident will cause a prolonged closure. To propose to attract up to 10,000 additional vehicles per day on top of summer RV traffic for two weeks boggles the mind. Five thousand citizens live in than narrow canyon and need to go to work, shop, see the doctor, transport their kids and their lives will have to be put on hold.CDOT projects that a minor accident will cause a back up of thousands of cars. For what? The ego of a man who occasionally visits to say how good he is to us and how lucky we are to have his vision.
NO to Rags over the river.