Rocky Mountain Chapter

Position statement: Christo’s “Over the River Project”

October 19, 2011

The Sierra Club has no position on Christo’s proposed Over the River Project. This proposed project has generated considerable controversy, with passionate advocates on both sides of the issue.

The Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter (CO) has approved a "no position" position based on a recommendation from the Club’s volunteer leaders who live closest to the area affected by the project.

The Club’s Sangre de Cristo Group serves a nineteen county area in southern Colorado, including the Arkansas River corridor and the segment of the river where Christo proposes to carry out his plan. The Group’s leaders reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2010. Their charge was to determine whether there are likely to be significant impacts on human health or the environment – positive or negative -- if the project is approved.

Based on that review and their knowledge of the area, they concluded that no significant environmental benefits are expected (so no reason to support the project) and no significant long-term adverse environmental impacts are expected (so no compelling reason to oppose it). There probably will be some limited short-term impacts from the construction of the project, and some impacts from increased traffic on US Highway 50 during the few months that the project is on display, but those impacts should be minimal, temporary, and amenable to effective mitigation.

The Group’s Executive Committee recommended that the Club take no position on the project. That recommendation was reviewed and accepted by the statewide Chapter’s Conservation Committee and its Executive Committee.

The BLM released its Final Environmental Impact Statement in July 2011. A formal Record of Decision (ROD) is expected soon. If the BLM decides to approve the project, it is the Sierra Club’s expectation that the ROD will include conditions intended to minimize the short-term impacts of the project and assure the prevention of long-term negative impacts on the affected area.

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