Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What is the scope of the Visual Resource Clearinghouse (VRC) website?
- Q: How is the VRC website organized?
A: The scope of the VRC website includes primarily the visual resource programs, practices, and selected associated documents of federal agencies in the United States, including selected federally-sponsored research papers. While state and other visual resource programs are briefly addressed, they are not described in detail, and the site does not generally include academic research papers, even if they address topics relevant to federal visual resource programs. The Web Resources page includes links to some non-Federal resources that may be of interest.
Many federal agencies do not have formal or even informal visual resource research programs and practices, and some have very limited programs that may address only one aspect of visual resource management, for example, visual impact assessment. These agencies’ visual resource programs are included to the extent the agency has applicable, relevant information that can assist with the topic matter of scenery management.
A: The website is organized by visual resource topic area, as follows:
- Visual Resource Systems Overview
Visual resource programs include methods and tools to inventory and manage landscape scenic resources. This overview section discusses the goals and components (which include the processes listed below) of federal agencies’ visual resource programs.
- Visual Resource Inventory (VRI)
VRI is the identification and documentation of the visual resources present in an area of interest. This section summarizes the VRI approaches of the various federal agencies and provides links to key documents used in each agency's VRI process.
- Visual Resource Management (VRM)
Certain agencies are responsible for management of visual resources for the lands and waters the agencies administer. VRM includes the establishment of goals and objectives for the management of visual resources, and actions taken to achieve the objectives. This section summarizes the VRM approaches of the federal agencies with VRM responsibilities, and provides links to key documents used in the agencies’ VRM processes.
- Visual Impact Assessment (VIA)
VIA analyzes potential visual impacts resulting from a proposed project or action. Agencies that administer land/water or have project permitting responsibilities may have established VIA procedures.
- Visual Impact Mitigation
Mitigation includes actions taken to avoid, minimize, rectify, reduce, or compensate for visual impacts arising from a proposed project or action. Some federal agencies have developed documents with standard visual impact mitigation practices that are appropriate for avoiding or reducing the visual impacts of proposed projects or activities.
Each section is organized by federal agency, with an additional subsection for brief descriptions of non-federal programs/practices. For users seeking quick access to a particular document or documents, the Federal Agency Visual Resource Documents page has a sortable list of links to all documents found on the website.
A: The VRC website is intended to provide "one-stop" access to summaries of federal agency visual resource program’s and key documents associated with these programs. It is not a replacement or substitute for the agencies’ visual resource websites, nor is it the definitive resource for agency visual resource policies or practices. While every effort is made to keep this website up to date and accurate, for the most up-to-date and definitive resources, users should consult the agencies’ websites and other agency resources. Federal agencies and their staff are not responsible for the content of this website or its maintenance. Any concerns regarding the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the content on this website should be addressed to the VRC webmaster at [email protected].
A: Bad links, performance problems, and concerns regarding the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the content on this website should be addressed to the VRC webmaster at [email protected].
A: Suggestions for additional content for the website are welcomed, and should be addressed to the VRC webmaster at [email protected]. Please keep in mind that the scope of the website is limited to the programs of U.S. federal agencies.
A: The VRC website does not include every visual resource-related document for all federal agencies; rather it attempts to include key documents associated with the agencies, programs, and practices highlighted on the website. Some agencies may have visual resource-related documents, but no formal or informal visual resource program, or a program that is under development that is not included on this website. Older versions of visual resource documents or documents associated with visual resource programs no longer actively used are generally not included on this website. Environmental assessments, environmental impact statements, and other project- or area-specific documents such as resource management plans are also not included; these types of documents may typically be found on agency websites or otherwise obtained from the relevant agency or other organizations.
A: The VRC website has visual resource information for the following federal agencies:
- U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management
- U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service
- U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
All of these agencies either have a formal visual resource program or have information to share about how the agency addresses visual resources in their activities. Other federal agencies were contacted about providing information and documents for the VRC website, but these agencies’ missions and/or roles in the regulatory process make formal visual resource programs/processes unnecessary.
A: Please see the Contact Us page for information about obtaining more information about specific federal agency visual resource programs or practices.
A: Environmental assessments, environmental impact statements, and other project- or area-specific documents such as resource management plans are not included in the VRC website. These types of documents may typically be found on agency websites or otherwise obtained from the relevant agency or other organizations.
A: While very effort is made to keep this website up to date and accurate, for the most up-to-date and definitive resources, users should consult the agencies’ websites and other agency resources.
A: Like all scientific disciplines, visual resource science has numerous technical terms. The Visual Resource Glossary contains hundreds of technical terms relevant to federal visual resource programs.
A: At this time, few federal agencies have programs or policies concerning impacts of artificial lighting on night skies, and the content of the VRC website is primarily limited to discussion of daytime visual impacts; however, some agencies’ visual impact mitigation measures do include night skies impacts, for example, the Bureau of Land Management.