The only legal challenge to Over The River yet to be ruled on is in federal court. That process advanced one step further with the recent denial of the opposition group’s motion to supplement the already extensive Bureau of Land Management (BLM) analysis of bighorn sheep in the Arkansas River Valley.
Christo is pleased the court validated the BLM findings by dismissing this attempt to end-run around the federal process and add opinions – not facts – into the record.
In his ruling, U.S. Senior District Judge John L. Kane notes “the attack on the BLM’s methodology is mild” and “does not show that the BLM failed to consider important impacts.” Rather, Judge Kane notes, the opposition’s expert appears “to do no more than challenge the BLM’s wisdom and to inject [his] personal views about the project’s social utility.”
The fact is the BLM’s analysis of Over The River was exhaustive, thorough and took place over more than ten years. During that very public review, all potential impacts were examined and addressed through more than 100 mitigation measures.
The BLM developed these preventive measures based on years of expert analysis and an abundance of literature. In his ruling Judge Kane notes, “it is curious to me that though these documents are contained in the administrative record, [the opposition expert] does not appear to have considered any of them in forming his opinion as to the validity of the BLM’s assessment.”
As part of the mitigation plan BLM identified, Christo funded the recent completion of a new wildlife corridor that was previously identified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a bighorn sheep habitat enhancement, as well as the first electronic tracking and monitoring program of the Valley’s herd.
“I am encouraged by this progress and remain committed to realizing the project,” Christo said, “and although we’re still years away from exhibition, I’m pleased to know Over The River has already created more suitable habitat in the Arkansas River Valley for the Colorado state animal.”
Christo remains confident all Over The River approvals were based on comprehensive analysis that will continue to withstand legal scrutiny, as it has done at every step of the legal process thus far.