Huffpost Arts

Christo, Bureau of Land Management Ask Judge To Toss Out 'Over The River' Lawsuit

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CHRISTO
Artist Christo. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) | AP

Fabric artist Christo and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are asking a federal judge to cut off a lawsuit aimed at stopping the artist from hanging nearly 6 miles of luminous fabric panels over a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado.

Rags Over the Arkansas River, the group trying to stop the the industrial-scale "Over the River" project, cites environmental issues, dangers to big horn sheep, as well as possible harm to residents and visitors of the proposed project area as the basis of their petition. (Read a PDF of the complaint here.)

On its website, ROAR describes its singular mission:

Whether you call us "ROAR," or our full name "Rags Over the Arkansas River," our organization is dedicated to preserving and protecting the headwaters of the Arkansas River, the Bighorn Sheep Canyon, its inhabitants and the communities that depend upon them.

Our founding project has been to formally oppose Christo and Jeanne Claude's "Over the River" project.

BLM argues in a recent filing (read a PDF of it here) that the judge should dismiss the suit on procedural grounds. Christo's Over The River Corporation, in a separate filing, also asks for ROAR's proposed legal remedies to be denied.

Over the weekend ROAR posted an update on their website saying that Christo's and BLM's requests are not equal to a motion to dismiss the suit. "The headlines and stories incorrectly suggest that BLM and OTR have asked Federal Judge Kane to dismiss ROAR's lawsuit. This is not accurate," ROAR posted in a statement.

"There will continue to be a series of procedural legal steps in the coming months," ROAR's statement continues. "Ultimately, ROAR will have our case heard in federal court. It is hard to be specific as to when this might happen, but we will keep this site updated as new information becomes available."

The Bureau of Land Management approved the project in November; it's believed to be the first artwork to receive the BLM's approval through the drafting of a lengthy environmental impact statement. This lawsuit was filed by University of Denver law students in 2012.

The "Over the River" project is estimated to cost $50 million, paid for by Christo. Materials used for the project would be recycled and Christo is also required to put several mitigation measures into place for local wildlife including bighorn sheep and birds.

The exhibition, which Christo says will take two years to install and won't be on view to the public until 2016 at the earliest, is due to be up for two weeks.

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