Environmentalists fighting Christo Arkansas River project… and each other

Six miles of fabric panels suspended over a portion of Colorado’s Arkansas River? Yep… it’s a planned Christo project. The artist known for transforming large spaces and objects has been conceptualizing his Over the River project for seventeen years… but many local green groups hope all of that thought and planning goes by the wayside because of concerns over environmental impact.

There’s a hitch, though… all the greenies aren’t on the same page on this one. According to the LA Times, the local chapter of the Sierra Club has decided to support the project, and organization’s state-level group isn’t taking a position on the installation. Local residents, especially those who are Sierra Club members, feel betrayed by the group, and even accuse it of accepting pay-offs for their support of a project they believe goes directly against the organization’s mission.

The chair of the local organization is a bit perplexed by the uproar, telling the Times that “he has yet to be convinced there would be any lasting damage to the environment or wildlife.” He may have a point: many of the complaints involve increased traffic in the area (which, of course, could have an environmental impact). Others, though, claim that the two-year installation of the project could upset bighorn sheep populations in the area.

Much of this may be moot: the Bureau of Land Management still has to approve the project, and will do so based on a fairly lengthy environmental assessment. They plan to announce their decision in the Spring. If approved, the project would be open for viewing for a two-week period in August, 2014.

So, what do you think? Much ado about nothing? Or do residents have legitimate concerns about environmental impact? Take a look at Christo’s drawings for the project, and the video above, and let us know what you think.

via Media Bistro’s Unbeige blog