Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

New website provides one-stop access to federal agency visual resource management policies, programs, guidance, and research programs

October 3, 2016

Scenic beauty is an important resource with significant value to Americans, including many local and regional economies that are dependent on tourism. Scenic beauty is a fragile and finite resource, subject to impacts from human development and other processes that affect important human values associated with landscapes and seascapes in complex ways.

Recent years have seen the rapid development of utility-scale energy facilities and other development that may cause large scenic impacts to our communities, our treasured scenic, historic, and cultural resources, and our wildlands. As more and larger energy facilities are built, and more pipelines, transmission lines, and roads are built to connect these new energy sources to energy consumers, scenic impacts are on the rise, as are stakeholder concerns about these impacts. Similarly, urban and other development is increasingly reshaping our landscapes, as are other forces, such as climate change and invasive species.

EVS recently launched the BLM Wyoming Visual Resources Clearinghouse website (http://blmwyomingvisual.anl.gov/), a new resource for government agency staff, professional practitioners, and other stakeholders concerned with scenic resource management and protection. The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Office worked with EVS to design and develop the Visual Resources Clearinghouse to provide convenient access to key information and documents relating to visual resource management policies, programs, guidance, and research provided by federal agencies.

U.S. federal agencies play key roles in permitting and regulating development, and in protecting important resources, including scenic resources, from the environmental impacts of development. These agencies have a range of programs and processes they use to inventory and manage scenic resources, assess impacts to visual resources from development and land management activities, and avoid or reduce those impacts through visual impact mitigation. However, comprehensive and easy-to-use information about federal agency visual resource management has been lacking.

The Visual Resources Clearinghouse provides centralized access to:

  • Summaries of federal agency VRM programs and processes;
  • Key agency policy, guidance, and VRM program documents;
  • Federally-sponsored visual resources research; and
  • An extensive glossary of visual resource management technical terms.

As federal agency visual resource policies and programs evolve over time, the BLM Wyoming Visual Resources Clearinghouse will be updated regularly so that it remains a current, accurate, and comprehensive information source for scenic resource managers and other stakeholders.