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Bureau of Land Management
Visual Resources

Visual Resources Glossary

Select a letter from the list below to view glossary terms and acronyms/abbreviations. The agency abbreviation following the definition indicates the definition source.

The landscape where features overhead create a ceiling or canopy, typically within or ta the edge of a forest where branches are overhead, but also within canyons with predominantly arched, overhanging walls. (BLM)
Canopied (view type)
A type of view bounded on the top by elements that limit the view. The elements overhead create the feeling of a “ceiling” or “canopy” for the view. (NPS)
A distinguishing trait, feature, or quality. (BLM, USFS)
Characteristic landscape
The established landscape within an area being viewed that has traits, features, and qualities that characterize it as an agricultural, urban, or industrial setting; or a primarily natural environment; or a combination of these types. (BLM)
The property of reflecting light of a particular intensity and wavelength (or mixture of wavelengths) to which the eye is sensitive. Color enables the eye to differentiate otherwise indistinguishable objects. Color is typically rated or otherwise considered in visual resource inventories. (BLM, FHWA, USFS, NPS)
Color Harmony
In the NPS Visual Resource Inventory, the degree to which the view includes a range of compatible colors, and pleasing color contrasts where they occur. Color Harmony is one of three components used to evaluate the Visual Harmony factor in the Scenic Quality Evaluation. (NPS)
Color Vividness
In the NPS Visual Resource Inventory, the degree to which the view includes bold colors, and prominent textures or moving elements. Color Vividness is one of three components used to evaluate the Vividness factor in the Scenic Quality Evaluation. (NPS)
When the level of protective visual management is equivalent to the measured value of the visual resource. (BLM)
Compensatory mitigation
Mitigation that compensates for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments (40 CFR 1508.20(e)). (BLM)
Complimentary (color)
The relationship between colors perceived as enhancing each other through pleasing contrast. (NPS)
A constituent part. In the NPS Visual Resource Inventory, scenic quality is assessed by evaluating three factors, each of which is comprised of three components. Similarly, view importance is assessed by evaluating three factors, each of which is comprised of three components. (NPS)
Computer graphic
Visual display of information produced by a computer that can be displayed either electronically or on paper. (BLM)
Conservation easement
A nonpossessory interest of a holder in real property imposing limitations or affirmative obligations for the purpose of retaining or protecting natural, scenic, or open-space values of real property; assuring its availability for agricultural, forest, recreational or open-space use; protecting natural resources; maintaining or enhancing air or water quality; or preserving the historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural aspects of real property. (BLM)
Opposition or unlikeness of different forms, lines, colors, or textures in a landscape. (BLM, NPS)
Diversity or distinction of adjacent parts. Effect of striking differences in form, line, color, or texture of a landscape. (USFS)
Contrast rating
BLM's required systematic process for analyzing the potential visual impacts of proposed management activities through comparison of contrast in form, line, color, and texture between a proposed project and the existing landscape. (BLM)
Conventional energy
Electricity typically generated by fossil fuel sources such as oil, gas, and coal. (NPS)
Cultural element
Attributes in a human-altered landscape; scenically positive cultural elements, most of which have historical backgrounds or nostalgic connotations. Examples include split-rail fences, stone walls, barns, orchards, hedgerows, and cabins. (USFS)
Cultural landscape
Human-altered landscapes, especially those slowly evolving landscapes with scenic vegetation patterns or scenic structures. Addition of these elements creates a visually pleasing complement to the natural character of a landscape. (USFS)
Cultural modification
Any human-caused change in the landform, water body, or vegetation through the addition of an element that creates a visual contrast in the basic elements (form, line, color, and texture) of the naturalistic character of a landscape. (BLM)
Cultural resources
Archaeological sites, structures, or features; traditional use areas; and Native American sacred sites or special use areas that provide evidence of the prehistory and history of a community. (NPS)
Cumulative impacts
The impacts assessed in an environmental impact statement that could potentially result from incremental impacts of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of which agency (federal or non-federal), private industry, or individual undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. (NPS, FHWA, BLM)