Christo wants to drape Arkansas River in Colorado

DENVER — Federal land managers say artist Christo's plan to drape fabric over several miles of the Arkansas River in Colorado would have a significant impact on recreation and traffic, with an estimated 350,000 people expected to flock to the area to view it.

The Bureau of Land Management released its draft environmental study Friday on Christo's "Over the River" project, adding that the unprecedented effort could have a moderate to significant impact on bighorn sheep and historical sites.

Steve Coffin, a Denver-based spokesman for the project, said any impact would be temporary.

Christo wants to use a system of anchors, frames and cables to suspend 5.9 miles of fabric across eight spots along a 42-mile stretch of the river. The BLM studied seven versions of the project , including a scaled-down effort.

The draft study says construction, viewing and removal over nearly three years would affect more than 3,500 acres.

Coffin said the alternatives were not developed in consultation with Christo and that the artist would push for the full project.

"A shorter version of Over the River is not Over the River," Coffin said. "What has gotten lost here is the artistic vision, and that's really what this is all about."