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Christo abandons river art project in Colorado; doesn't want to deal Trump administration

DENVERThe artist Christo said Wednesday he has abandoned his plan to drape translucent fabric above portions of Colorado’s scenic Arkansas River, a proposal that generated fierce opposition and a long court battle.

“I no longer wish to wait on the outcome,” the 81-year-old artist wrote on a website for the project, called Over the River. He cited 20 years of planning and five years of legal fights. 

In a story posted Wednesday on The New York Times website, he said his decision was a protest against President Donald Trump. 

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Most of the project would be on federal land, and Christo told the newspaper he did not want to deal with the Trump administration.

“I use my own money and my own work and my own plans because I like to be totally free,” he said. “And here now, the federal government is our landlord. They own the land. I can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.”

Over the River called for eight sections of fabric panels to be suspended in intervals along 42 miles of the river between Canon City and Salida. It would have taken two years to install and was to be on display two weeks

Opponents said the project could harm wildlife, the river and people. 

“It’s a really happy day for us,” said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for an opposition group call Rags Over the Arkansas River.

The group sued the federal Bureau of Land Management seeking to overturn its approval of the project. A U.S. district court ruled against the group, but an appeal was pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver when Christo dropped the project.

Anzelmo said opponents were concerned that construction of the project in the narrow river canyon could delay emergency responders and cause other dangers.

They also worried about the impacts on wildlife, and the possibility that sections of fabric could be torn away by high winds that frequently blow through the river canyon, becoming a traffic hazard or striking observers.

Christo spokesman Vladimir Yavachev said Christo had spent $15 million on the project and had expected to spend at least $50 million more.

Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, proposed the project in 1996. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009.

Christo said he would focus on another project in the United Arab Emirates.

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