By: John Davenport 3/24/2013
I love art. Ronnie loves art. We all love Luna’s ballet, Clint’s landings, Casey’s flies, Fred’s casts, Will’s poems, Tim & Randall’s photos, and Scott’s gyotaku prints, so don’t call us anything but art lovers. So it is with trepidation that I have to point out the cautions on Christo’s fabric Over the (Arkansas) River projects. We love art but we love fly fishing more and there is no love for fly fishing in this project. In fact the final environmental statement from the BLM states:
“Because casting would be difficult or impossible under many of the cables, this would result in displacement of anglers from the panel locations, or from the Project Area as a whole.”
Here are the areas of impact on a composite map I created.
Probable impact areas
The problem for us, if we’d like to fish the project area between February and November like we always have, is that we can’t because of the cables and construction. The project is currently on hold but will probably be started in February of 2014 with the viewing to take place the first two weeks in August 2014.
Of all the recreation, restaurant, lodging, local tax authorities, and myriad other entities, only Fishing and Hunting are predicted to show negative impact from this project. An estimated 1,600 angler visits will be precluded out of the 100,000 normally on the Upper Arkansas. Read the whole FEIS here.
It is almost impossible put fly fishers off their game with a piece of fabric. All we need is:
- access to the water, which on public land is usually not a problem.
- at least a little water, which on a river like the Arkansas, unlike the South Platte is not a problem.
- and some fish, which at 5,000 a mile is absolutely not a problem on the Arkansas.
And we share. Whether its rafters, tubers, swimmers, kayakers, gold panners or hikers along the banks; they all love us, watch us cast, and wish us luck. We know that they don’t seem to put down or disturb the fish too much. (Beware, we don’t share well with trash droppers, dynamite chuckers and gold suckers.)
Our impact on the river is tiny. Our tippet, leader and line are designed to be almost invisible and our fly is chosen to look like thousand already in the river. We don’t tromp down bushes along the bank because our feet are usually in the river.
Yes, there is one thing we are guilty of as charged; hanging an occasional fly in the trees. At $3 a crack, we try our damnest to free it from the tree but it does happen. With the wind on the Arkansas, lack of roll casting skills, and flawed vertical sets flies in the over head trees are inevitable. So picture what would happen if the number of trees along 5.9 miles of the Arkansas are increased by 1,300 with branches that stretch from bank to bank dipping down to as low as 8 feet above the water. Here’s what happens in Golden.
Cast meets Cable in on the Golden Mile in Golden, Colorado
The Over The River project is a two week public art installation in the first half of August by artist Christo (The Gates in Central Park). It is expected to draw 344,000 visitors. None of it is on private land, so all of it is presumably on fishable stretches of Bighorn Sheep Canyon between Parkdale and Salida.
Currently, 3/21/2013 the project is on hold pending resolution of two law suits. See http://www.overtheriverinfo.com for the current status according to the artist.
It is expected to draw 344,000 visitors. Over two years anchors will be placed on opposite sides of the river. Over a 4 month period cables will be strung across the river. Two weeks prior to opening, the fabric will we fastened with carabiners to the cables. After the viewing, the fabric will be removed in 2 weeks, and the cables during the following two months. All surface level holes will be filled and ground restored and re-vegetated.
Thirteen hundred cables will be strung from 8 to 25 feet above the river. Cables would span the river for up to 6 months (generally April – October) at Three Rocks, a portion of Spikebuck, and a portion on Parkdale. Cables would span the river for up to 3 months at County Line, Tunnel, Vallie Bridge, Texas Creek, and Maytag. For most of this period, the cables would not support fabric panels, but would be marked with flight diverters. The birds will probably be pissed.
Luckily there is a many places to fish in Colorado. The 1,600 members of Denver Trout Unlimited will be impacted by Over The River, but we won’t stop fishing.