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Opponents of Christo's Over The River project lose appeal over state agency's approval


DENVER — A group opposing the artist Christo's proposal to drape a 6-mile stretch of the Arkansas River with translucent fabric lost its latest court appeal Thursday.

The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by Rags Over the Arkansas River, or ROAR, over Colorado State Parks' approval of the Over The River project. ROAR said the approval should be thrown out because the agency didn't follow its special permit regulations.

In its ruling, the court agreed that the procedures weren't followed but let the approval stand because the agency had evidence to support its decision and because it didn't act with prejudice.

The decision follows another legal victory for the project in January, when a federal judge ruled that the Bureau of Land Management's approval of the project didn't violate environmental laws. Opponents have appealed the BLM ruling, and ROAR spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo said they are considering whether to appeal the state agency's ruling too.

In a statement, Christo said the latest ruling puts him closer to realizing the vision that he and his late wife Jeanne-Claude first conceived more than two decades ago.

"These two favorable court rulings are a victory for the countless supporters from Colorado and around the world who have stood with us wanting to see Over The River realized," he said.

Opponents fear the art project and the work needed to install it could harm wildlife and make curvy U.S. Highway 50, which runs along the river, inaccessible to residents.

The project would take more than two years to erect and would be on display for two weeks.

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