Christo's "Over the River" project: Will the Colorado Wildlife Commission sink it?

The acclaimed artist Christo (rendered here by Kenny Be) has a talent for subduing vast landscapes, charming financial backers and reassuring locals about the economic and aesthetic value of his unique projects.

But he hasn't managed to friend anybody over at the Colorado Wildlife Commission.

Indeed, the commission has emerged as a formidable foe in his quest to stretch six miles of silvery fabric over the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida.

The governor-appointed commission voted 9-0 earlier this month to send a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management opposing the construction of "Over the River," Christo's proposed $50 million landscape wrap. The move gives aid and comfort to local commuters worried about the traffic impacton U.S. 50 and outdoor activists fretting about displaced bighorn sheep, frustrated fishermen and other disruptions.

"There are no redeeming values of this project from a fish and wildlife perspective," commissioner Robert Streeter said at a workshop in Salida, according to this account in the Denver Post.

The commission's thumbs-down is hardly definitive; the body doesn't have any direct say over whether Christo's dream is realized. But the BLM can hardly ignore the letter as it ponders the various endorsements the artist has received from politicos and tourism interests, as well as lots of grousing from people who live in the area.

Another commissioner, David Brougham, called the no vote a "no-brainer." Fans of Christo's work probably feel the same way about him.

More from our Kenny Be/Comics archive: "Christo's "Over the River" project is now under the gun: Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast