Christo Stalled Indefinitely By ROAR
The grassroots organization, Rags Over the Arkansas River, (ROAR), based in Canon City, CO, is moving closer to having its case against BLM and Christo’s Over the River Corporation heard in federal court. The goal of ROAR’s federal lawsuit is to prevent Christo from ever being allowed to construct and install the industrial scale Over the River project above the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
Thanks to ROAR, Christo remains indefinitely stalled with no announced start date for his 2.5 yearlong industrial scale construction phase of the OTR project and no projected date for the OTR project’s 14 day display.
ROAR originally filed a lawsuit against BLM in February 2012 which included allegations that BLM violated federal laws and BLM’s own policies when they approved Christo’s Over the River (OTR) project for Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Arkansas River. In the ensuing eighteen months there have been a series of procedural legal steps.
More recently, on July 12, ROAR filed an amended lawsuit following the decision by the administrative review entity, the Department of the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals (IBLA). As expected the IBLA concurred with BLM’s decision to issue a land use permit to OTR for the 2.5 year long industrial scale construction phase and 14 day display of the OTR project. The IBLA review happened because a third party filed an administrative appeal to the IBLA in December, 2011, also objecting to BLM’s decision to approve a permit for the OTR project.
The Department of Interior’s IBLA administrative review changes nothing regarding ROAR’s lawsuit including ROAR’s allegations that BLM violated federal laws and BLM policies in approving the OTR project for Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Arkansas River. A portion of Christo’s OTR project is planned for an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” (ACEC) as identified by BLM in their Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan. BLM’s special designation of the ACEC was established to protect the sensitive flora and fauna of Bighorn Sheep Canyon including Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Bald Eagles and other diverse wildlife.
After ROAR filed the amended lawsuit on July 12, and as part of the subsequent legal procedural steps, Christo’s OTR Corporation and BLM filed ‘replies’ to ROAR’s amended suit in federal court on August 6, and 7, respectively. BLM and OTR did not file ‘motions to dismiss’ ROAR’s lawsuit.
There will continue to be a series of standard procedural legal steps in the coming months in advance of ROAR’s lawsuit ultimately being heard in federal court.