SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4) – The artist Christo will be allowed to drape huge pieces of fabric over the Arkansas River in Colorado, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Monday.
The Bureau of Land Management has approved the temporary art installation, titled “Over the River,” and construction is now projected to start in 2012, although Christo’s team still needs to obtain some minor permits before moving forward. The BLM decision followed the Colorado State Land Board’s approval last month of the two leases needed for the project.
Christo, who came up with the concept with his wife Jeanne-Claude in in 1992, will suspend nearly 6 miles of fabric in eight sections above a 42 mile stretch of the river between Salida and Canon City.
The installation will stay there for two weeks in August 2014.
Numerous environmental advocates raised concerns about the project, fearing the effort would have a negative impact on wildlife around the area, including bighorn sheep.
Salazar said in a prepared statement that “steps have been taken to mitigate the environmental effects of this one-of-a-kind project.” He said the project will help to support jobs in the tourism industry in the area and bring attention to a particularly scenic part of the state.
Kayaking and whitewater rafting are some of the big tourism draws in the region, and those floating down the river under the fabric will be treated to a rather unique sight.
Gov. John Hickenlooper praised the “perseverance” Christo and his late wife have shown as the project has gone through hurdle after hurdle in a news release from the Department of the Interior.
“Over The River will bring tremendous cultural and economic benefits to Colorado and Coloradans and valuable exposure to our state’s natural beauty,” he said.
Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, four years after the pair’s project “The Gates” wowed visitors at New York’s Central Park.
The project will cost an estimated $50 million. Officials said they expect the project to “generate $121 million in economic output” and to draw an estimated 400,000 visitors.
The leases from the project will raise about $26,000 for schools.
Related Video Clip
In 2010 CBS4 Critic at Large Greg Moody interviewed Christo about his vision for the project. Watch the report in the archive video clip below: