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Mountain News — hard times on the Colorado River

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Skiing under lights a go

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Night-skiing is a go at the Steamboat Ski Areas this coming winter. Steamboat Today reports that the city council approved night lighting of five trails.

In its night offering, to begin with three nights per week at start, Steamboat joins Keystone, but also Howelsen Hill, the small ski area near downtown Steamboat.

While Howelsen Hill doesn't get all that much traffic for its under-the-lights skiing, representatives from Intrawest, operator of the larger ski area in Steamboat, represented night skiing as an economic agent.

Part of the argument for the night skiing is that $35 million has been invested in hotels and public infrastructure at the base in recent years, and this will help make better use of those investments.

Controversy is also art

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. — Oh the heartburn! The horror! The artist Christo plans to drape silver fabric over steel cables for sections of six miles in the Arkansas River Canyon in Colorado. To many, this is the dumbest of dumb ideas, sure to be the ruin of the canyon between Salida and Cañon City.

Christo takes it all in stride. It's part of the process, he said at a recent talk at a design conference in Snowmass Village, part of what will make it art.

"Anyone who thinks about the project, good or bad, is part of the work of art," he said. "It's irrelevant whether they like it or dislike it — they are affected by the work."

Christo and his late wife, Jean-Claude, did many similar landscape art projects around the world. One of them was also in Colorado, the draping of fabric over Rifle Gap, which is about an hour-and-a-half west of Aspen and Vail. That was in 1973.

The Aspen Daily News explains that around 1992, he and Jean-Claude began planning "Over the River." They investigated 90 American rivers, including the Salmon in Idaho, the Wind River in Wyoming, and the Poudre in Colorado.

In the Arkansas, they have a river running from west to east, so that fabric panels suspended over the water would appear rosy in the morning, platinum in the midday sun and, and golden in the evening. The panels will be opaque to drivers on Highway 50, above and to the side, and transparent to rafters below.

Christo now has permission from the various levels of government, but two lawsuits filed by a group called Rags Over the Arkansas River have yet to be resolved.

The slow movement of this process is not unusual. Winning approval to install "The Gates" in New York City's Central Park took 26 years.

"I'm not a masochist. This is how works of art develop," he said.

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