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Colorado parks board OKs pact with artist Christo

SALIDA, Colo. — The Colorado State Parks Board approved an agreement Friday for the artist Christo to pay $550,000 to state parks to carry out his Over the River project, which would suspend 5.9 miles worth of fabric panels over parts of the Arkansas River.

However, the agreement is moot if the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t approve a federal permit for the project. The BLM hasn’t made its decision yet.

Christo’s project would use heavy equipment to help erect a system of cables and anchors to hang the fabric along U.S. 50.

The agreement approved by the parks board applies only to lands it manages. It says Christo’s team would pay $320,000 to cover State Parks’ costs related to Christo carrying out his project, plus $230,000 in recreation impact fees.

Over the River, which Christo envisioned with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, has drawn support from art lovers but frustration from some wildlife advocates and river businesses. Opponents say hordes of tourists checking out the project and the work needed to erect it could stress wildlife, choke traffic and disrupt hunting, rafting and angling business.

In May, Colorado wildlife commissioners voted 9-0 in favor of sending a letter to the BLM opposing the project and urging federal officials to adopt measures to ease potential effects on bighorn sheep if they do issue a permit to Christo.

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