Two leases approved by the BLM brush aside a few of the last hurdles standing in the way of Christo and his art project. Basically it’s a done deal. When I first read about crazy Christo and this whacked out vision of his, it seemed absolutely laughable. He could have picked many other places with far less fragile habitat but he seemed hell bent on draping crap over a 45-mile section of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Christo along with a few powerful friends from the east coast had meetings with various agencies such as Colorado Department of Natural Resources and it was clear that any and all concerns could be brushed aside with money.
Colorado’s DNR apparently is willing to sell out to the highest bidder and catering far more to people with money than should be tolerated. I could list at least 10 sections of other water that would suit this project far better than here. A few of these areas were brought to the table of discussion but Christo pretty much stuck with this area saying something like, “Naw. I am pretty set on @#$& up this spot.”
There are a lot of reasons why this location is one of the worst choices Christo could make. Drilling and setting up all of those cables is just the start. The narrow canyon will have a tough time accommodating a large volume of construction and traffic. I expect this to become a nightmare for motorists most of the time. Sadly the cool canyon cruise will be reduced to a stop and go lookie lou situation for quite a long period during both construction and as long as the project is up.
(Above: The red circles indicate proposed areas for the project. Christo will tell you it is only 6 accumulative miles affected. However the entire project will take place roughly over a 50-mile stretch of canyon.)
Not saying this project couldn’t have been built in Colorado and 50 million bucks in overall budget (which will most likely run over that amount like all projects do) is very hard to turn down in this economy. The boost of commerce to the region is a huge blessing for the community with revenues that they most likely wouldn’t see otherwise. Um, 26,000 for schools though is pretty lame compensation in my view but the increase in sales tax will help fund education in this area further. That is the silver lining here and it would admittedly be hypocritical of me to overlook this aspect. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of good that will come out of this. It just stinks that some nutball from the east coast can come to Colorado and pretty much have his way with anything he wants as long as he has the money to placate. It’s not the worst thing that ever happened and heaven help the Arkansas if anything goes wrong. Like the goats and fish there is not much I can to do but ride this fiasco out.
In the meantime I’ll send a few e-mails and phone calls out asking for more in ways of fish remediation and habitat improvements. The only way I am going to feel better about this whole thing is if we kick this Christo guy so deep in the moneybags that he never does an art project around fish again.
Below are a few link references especially to the ROAR website. These folks have been centralizing the focus and putting up a great fight. There is a lot of information for those that want to read more.
Good luck and heaven help the Arkansas River