A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Salazar Announces Final Approval for Christo's Over The River Art Installation in Colorado
Office of the Secretary
Bureau of Land Management Issues Record of Decision
WASHINGTON –The Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office has released the Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Over The River™ (OTR) temporary art installation. The project, proposed by the artist Christo, will include suspending eight fabric panel segments totaling 5.9 miles within a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado.
“After careful consideration of the potential impact to the Arkansas River and the wildlife and plants that inhabit this beautiful area, we believe that steps have been taken to mitigate the environmental effects of this one-of-a-kind project,” said Secretary Salazar. “Drawing visitors to Colorado to see this work will support jobs in the tourism industry and bring attention to the tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities in this area.
Over The River is estimated to generate $121 million in economic output and draw 400,000 visitors during construction and display. The construction is anticipated to begin in 2012, culminating in a two-week display in August 2014. The OTR Corp has projected a cost $50 million for construction that will be covered by the project proponent.
“We applaud Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, for their perseverance to create this wonderful artwork in the Arkansas River Valley,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “Over The River will bring tremendous cultural and economic benefits to Colorado and Coloradans and valuable exposure to our state's natural beauty.”
In the ROD, the BLM selects the preferred alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was released on July 29, 2011. The selected alternative is alternative 1A, the artists' proposal, with substantial mitigation measures to protect resources and public safety.
“Thanks to the input of the public and many other local and state agencies, this decision mitigates the environmental impacts that will occur, allowing a truly unique project to move forward,” BLM Director Bob Abbey said.
The adopted mitigation measures are the result of significant cooperative efforts between the BLM, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, State Historic Preservation Office and Chaffee and Fremont counties. The project is expected to provide substantial economic benefit to Colorado while protecting and preserving the natural and human resources of Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The project will offer a unique recreational experience in the river corridor while balancing resource protection and tourism.
The BLM will continue to work cooperatively with the various regulatory agencies involved on event management planning and implementation.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife approved the OTR project in June 2011. The BLM jointly manages the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The BLM Arkansas River is recognized as one of the nation's most popular locations for commercial and private whitewater rafting and kayaking. The river's scenic corridor features abundant wildlife, including a population of bighorn sheep. The area attracts more than 740,000 visitors per year.
A fact sheet on the project's mitigation measures is HERE.