All was going well for Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude’s Over the River project, until August, when a spate of court cases put the project on hold.
Over the River, another of the pair’s large-scale land installations, proposes hanging giant swaths of silver fabric across 5.9 miles of the Arkansas River over a 42-mile stretch between Salida and Cañon City. Currently, the project date has been rescheduled, though a specific time has not been identified (it was last slated for August 2015). This is due to three ongoing legal battles that could potentially threaten the entire enterprise, though Over the River Corp. says it’s confident in outcomes in their favor. None of the suits are aimed at OTR Corp. directly, rather, Over the River’s main opposition group, Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR) is challenging Colorado State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, two agencies that gave their stamp of approval for the project. (ROAR got help from Denver University’s law clinic.) The third suit is an administrative appeal through the Federal Interior Board of Land Appeals by three individuals in response the BLM’s Record of Decision allowing the project. (OTR has sided with the BLM in its suit, though it’s not providing assistance in any way.)
Until the administrative appeal is settled, the judges in the other two suits will not proceed, setting the timetable on OTR activities, such as the ordering of materials and gaining final permits, on hold. OTR spokesperson Miles Graham says that the team is still moving forward where it can, working on other aspects, such as the bighorn sheep habitat enhancement program. Graham adds that Christo is planning a visit to Colorado on Wednesday, Jan. 23. (He'll be speaking at 6 p.m. at the Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, Denver.)
The project, which was first conceived in 1992, is estimated to bring in more than $121 million in total economic output, according to the official OTR website, which also estimates more than 620 temporary jobs will be created and 344,000 visitors will come to the area over the 14-day exhibition window.