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Bureau of Land Management
Visual Resources

Visual Resource Management: Non-Federal Agencies

In the U.S., most non-federal agencies do not manage scenic quality, especially at the landscape scale. Management would require development of scenic quality objectives that would typically be based on a detailed inventory and description of the existing visual setting. There are exceptions; in areas such as the Columbia River Gorge and the communities around the Blue Ridge Parkway, local agencies cooperate to maintain the visual character of the areas as the nearby communities continue to grow. This level of identifying visual resource management objectives across the larger landscape is not usually done at the state or local level because management authority does not extend over large areas or onto private lands, or because agencies are focused on other management goals. However, there are exceptions, such as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) leads a cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, including the preservation and enhancement of scenic values. TRPA’s scenic goals are to maintain and restore the scenic qualities of the natural appearing landscape and to improve the accessibility of Lake Tahoe for public viewing.

Based on scenic inventories, TRPA has identified important scenic resource areas, and for these areas (but not for all lands in the region) has identified scenic standards that must be met for new development. Property owners are required to blend man-made structures with the natural environment. The standards only apply to properties in identified scenic resource areas; most properties in the Basin are exempted from the standards. Repeated inventories are used to monitor the attainment status and trend of scenic quality within the scenic resource areas over time. A scoring system with numeric ratings is used to assess attainment status. For more information, see the TRPA Scenic Quality Regulations page of the TRPA website.