ROAR v BLM in U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit
On November 18, 2015, ROAR presented oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals in its case against the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) 2011 approval of Christo's Over the River project. In its appeal, ROAR argued that the Over the River project proposed by Christo cannot be found to meet the consistency requirement of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).
At the heart of our case, we believe BLM must be required to follow its own Resource Management Plan and federal law.
ROAR alleges BLM violated the Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan and the federal protections in place for the BLM designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern within the Bighorn Sheep Canyon when it approved the OTR Project. We are hopeful the appellate judges with the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, will agree with ROAR's argument and require BLM to amend the Royal Gorge Management Plan and negate the previous approval until a new plan is completed.
ROAR’s appeal focuses on three key arguments:
- Of the four interpretations of FLPMA’s consistency requirement offered to this Court, three do not merit deference from the Court.
- The appellees ignore BLM’s duty to “protect” resources in the Arkansas Canyonlands ACEC.
- The appellees have not disputed that the OTR project, particularly during construction, will be a visual blight that is contrary to the area’s Class II Visual Resource Designation
Colorado State Action Summary
The Colorado Supreme Court has denied ROAR's petition to hear our case against Colorado Park's Board. The lower Court - the Colorado Court of Appeals - previously agreed with ROAR's primary allegation that Colorado Parks ignored their own state statutes when they issued a Memorandum of Agreement to the OTR Corporation to permit the OTR project, instead of the required Special Use Permit which includes an open public process before issuance.
Despite this, the appellate court did not overturn the Park's Board decision. Consequently, ROAR filed a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case. The Colorado Supreme Court receives hundreds of petitions annually to hear cases and they have to choose which ones to add to their always full docket. Unfortunately, our case was not one selected.
While there is no other appeal avenue for the state case, it is important to note that the appellate court wrote in their opinion that Colorado Parks violated state statutes regarding the type of permit that should have been required for the OTR Corporation.
Note: The OTR project continues to be indefinitely delayed with no estimated start date for construction and no display date.
Previous Federal Actions
April 6, 2015: ROAR Filed an Appeal in U.S. Federal District Court:
District Federal Court Ruling: On Friday, January 2, 2015, Judge William J. Martinez (Federal District Court, Colorado) issued his opinion upholding the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval of Christo's "Over the River" (OTR)Project along the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
While the Court found that BLM 'technically' complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), in no way does the court dismiss the destructive nature of the Over the River project.