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Christo abandons Over the River project in Colorado

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/25/2017 By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press
FILE--In this Feb. 11, 2009, file photograph, artist Christo, right, and his partner, Jeanne-Claude, are shown during a press conference for their exhibition "Over the River, A Work in Progress" at the Fondation de lHermitage in Lausanne, Switzerland. The artists' then-current artwork in progress was called, "Over The River," which proposed the horizontal suspension of fabric panels in separate segments along a stretch above the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, Christo announced that he has abandoned his plans for the display over the Arkansas River. (Keystone/Dominic Favre via AP, file) © The Associated Press FILE--In this Feb. 11, 2009, file photograph, artist Christo, right, and his partner, Jeanne-Claude, are shown during a press conference for their exhibition "Over the River, A Work in Progress" at the Fondation de lHermitage in Lausanne, Switzerland. The artists' then-current artwork in progress was called, "Over The River," which proposed the horizontal suspension of fabric panels in separate segments along a stretch above the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, Christo announced that he has abandoned his plans for the display over the Arkansas River. (Keystone/Dominic Favre via AP, file)

DENVER (AP) — The 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.

File--In this Aug. 1, 1972, file photograph, part of an art installation by Christo Javacheff, which weighted six tons and cost of $750,000, hangs for a quarter mile over the Rifle Gap near the small western slope community of Rifle, Colo. Christo, who has been planning to drape a similar curtain across the Arkansas River in southern Colorado, announced on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, that he has abandoned the effort. (AP Photo/file) © The Associated Press File--In this Aug. 1, 1972, file photograph, part of an art installation by Christo Javacheff, which weighted six tons and cost of $750,000, hangs for a quarter mile over the Rifle Gap near the small western slope community of Rifle, Colo. Christo, who has been planning to drape a similar curtain across the Arkansas River in southern Colorado, announced on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, that he has abandoned the effort. (AP Photo/file)

"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.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 file photograph, artist Christo responds to questions during a show of sketches and photos of some of his in-progress works at the Metropolitan State University Center for Visual Art in Denver. Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, had won state and federal permits to build a project called "Over the River," which would have involved the suspension of nearly six miles of giant fabric panels from anchors and cables over parts of a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River next to U.S. Highway 50. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, Christo announced that he has abandoned plans to complete the project. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 file photograph, artist Christo responds to questions during a show of sketches and photos of some of his in-progress works at the Metropolitan State University Center for Visual Art in Denver. Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, had won state and federal permits to build a project called "Over the River," which would have involved the suspension of nearly six miles of giant fabric panels from anchors and cables over parts of a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River next to U.S. Highway 50. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, Christo announced that he has abandoned plans to complete the project. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

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

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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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-elliott.

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