Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Rags Over the Arkansas River, Inc. v. Bureau of Land Management

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20001
Nos. 12-cv-0265-WJM, (D. Colo., 01/02/2015) (Martinez, J.)

A district court upheld BLM's approval of a temporary public art project over the Arkansas River by New York-based artist Christo. The project would consist of 5.9 miles of steel cables, anchored on the riverbanks between 8 and 25 feet above a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, over which fabric panels will be suspended. In all, the project is anticipated to be installed, displayed, and removed within three years. Environmental groups argued that BLM failed to comply with NEPA and FLPMA in approving the project, but the court disagreed. BLM complied with NEPA's procedural requirements and its approval of the project was not arbitrary and capricious. BLM took the requisite "hard look" at the project's potential impact on bighorn sheep in the area, and it considered potential traffic impacts, as illustrated by the mitigation plan accompanying the final EIS. Nor did BLM violate FLPMA. BLM did not err in looking at the broad goals of the area's resource management plan (RMP) rather than its specific terms, conditions, and decisions. In addition, the record shows that BLM made the appropriate findings that the project complies with the Royal Gorge RMP and that BLM was conscious of the special management concerns outlined in the RMP with regard to the Arkansas Canyonlands area of critical concern. BLM also imposed conditions to mitigate some of the detrimental impacts, devised significant monitoring and remediation measures, and has required the posting of a sizable bond to ensure compliance. The court, therefore, affirmed BLM's approval.