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Release Date: 07/28/11
Contacts: Steven Hall, 303-239-3672;    

BLM releases Over The River final environmental impact statement for public review

Cañon City, Colo. – Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office released the Over The River (OTR) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

The preferred alternative identifies eight panel segments totaling 5.9 miles within a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River corridor between Canon City and Salida. The OTR Corp has projected a cost $50 million to build. The FEIS projects that OTR will generate $121 million in economic output and draw 400,000 visitors during construction and display. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2012, culminating in a two-week display in August 2014.

A Record of Decision approving or rejecting the OTR application will be prepared by the BLM based on the FEIS, with a final decision anticipated for fall of 2011.

The preferred alternative in the FEIS includes mitigation to address a variety of impacts, including wildlife, transportation, traffic, recreation and local communities:

  • A bighorn sheep adaptive management program, funded by OTR Corp, will allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the BLM to implement future wildlife mitigation identified during the project.
  • A bighorn sheep habitat treatment project will improve sheep access to suitable habitat. OTR would pay for the project.
  • Bare cables will be marked with avian flight diverters to minimize impacts to birds.
  • No more than a 15 minute delay time per vehicle would be allowed at each work zone at any one time. One lane of U.S. Highway 50 would remain open at all times. All Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Areas and developed recreation sites would remain open for recreational access during exhibition. BLM’s authorization to proceed with the OTR project will be contingent upon cooperating agency permit approvals.

The FEIS, prepared by a third party contractor paid for by OTR, is the result of collaboration between cooperating agencies, including: Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado State Parks, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado State Land Board, Chaffee County, Fremont County, Colorado State Patrol and Department of Transportation.

The Colorado State Parks Board approved OTR in June 2011. Colorado State Parks and the BLM jointly manage the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

“The BLM is committed to involving the public, local, state and tribal governments, and federal agencies throughout this planning effort.  It’s this level of involvement that will help us reach a final decision,” BLM Royal Gorge Field Manager Keith Berger said.

The BLM Arkansas River is nationally recognized as one of the nation’s most popular locations for commercial and private whitewater rafting and kayaking, and for its premier fishing opportunities.  The River’s scenic corridor features abundant wildlife, including a large population of bighorn sheep.  The area attracts over 740,000 visitors per year.

Notice of the availability of the FEIS will appear July 29 in the Federal Register. The FEIS will be available for public review through August 29, 2011.  Although this is not a formal comment period, comments related to the Final EIS may still be submitted.

The FEIS identifies seven alternatives, including a no-action alternative, and alternatives that vary by panel length, transportation, visitor management and timing considerations. 

The FEIS is available at

Review copies of the FEIS will be available at the following locations:

  • BLM Royal Gorge Field Office, 3028 E. Main St., Cañon City, Colorado. 
  • BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, Colorado.
  • Cañon City Public Library, 516 Macon Ave., Cañon City, Colorado. 
  • Salida Regional Library, 405 E. St., Salida, Colorado. 
  • Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area office, 307 West Sackett Ave., Salida, Colorado. 
  • Denver Public Library, 10 W. Fourteenth Ave. Parkway, Denver, Colorado. 
  • Cotopaxi Store, 20204 U.S. Highway 50, Cotopaxi, Colorado. 
  • Online (view or download) at

Written comments on the FEIS may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Please include “OTR Comments” in the subject line of comments that are e-mailed or faxed. Comments and personal identifying information may be publicly available at any time. We cannot guarantee withholding personal identifying information.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

  3028 E. Main St.      Cañon City, CO 81212  

Last updated: 09-14-2011