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Bureau of Land Management
Visual Resources

National Park Service Visual Impact Assessment Evaluation Guide

The National Park Service (NPS) does not have a formal procedure for visual impact assessment on lands NPS administers, in part because NPS does not normally permit large-scale development on NPS-administered lands. However, NPS has issued guidance on evaluating visual impact assessments (VIAs) for renewable energy projects and electric transmission projects proposed on lands or waters near NPS units.

The Guide to Evaluating Visual Impact Assessments for Renewable Energy Projects (2014, 198 pp), is a comprehensive guide to evaluating the quality and completeness of VIAs prepared for solar, onshore and offshore wind energy facilities, and electric transmission facilities.

The Guide covers the following topics:

  • The renewable energy project siting and approval process for federal agencies;
  • Correct interpretation and critical assessment of the completeness and accuracy of a VIA document;
  • Visual characteristics of utility-scale wind (onshore and offshore), solar, geothermal, and electric transmission projects;
  • Assessment of impacts associated with power generation and transmission components and directly associated infrastructure; and
  • Evaluation of the quality and accuracy of visual simulations of proposed utility-scale renewable energy projects.

While the Guide was developed primarily for use by NPS staff, it will be useful to staff of other government agencies, tribal organizations, visual resource professionals, and other project stakeholders concerned with visual impacts to scenic, historic, and cultural resources. Similarly, while written specifically to address VIAs for renewable energy projects and electric transmission, the information contained in the Guide will be useful for evaluation of VIAs for any large-scale development.