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Bureau of Land Management
Visual Resources

Other Federal Agency Visual Resource Management Programs Overview

Several U.S. federal agencies with land management responsibilities have comprehensive visual resource management (VRM) programs. The more comprehensive VRM programs of the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI) Bureau of Land Management, the USDOI National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service are discussed in detail elsewhere on this website.

Programs for some federal agencies that do not manage large tracts of land or water may be more limited in scope, in some cases limited to, or emphasizing visual impact assessment (VIA) procedures and visual impact mitigation. These programs are discussed below.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) does not manage lands, but it does support transportation projects that are subject to environmental impact assessments that include VIAs. FHWA's VIA procedure provides guidance to state departments of transportation, but is not mandatory. FHWA recently issued new VIA guidance entitled Guidelines for the Visual Impact Assessment of Highway Projects (2015, 104 pp). The guidelines provide (1) step-by-step instructions for authors of a VIA; (2) a training resource; and (3) a reference that details specific VIA tasks, techniques, or terms.

U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) authorizes water resource projects, such as dam construction and operation, that may sometimes result in major visual impacts. USACE's Visual Resources Assessment Procedure (VRAP) is a systematic method to (1) evaluate and classify existing visual quality; (2) assess and measure visual impacts caused by Corps projects; (3) evaluate visual impacts; and (4) make recommendations for changes in plans, designs, and operations of the projects. The VRAP is presented in the USACE Instruction Report EL-88-1, “Visual Resources Assessment Procedure for US Army Corps of Engineers” (Issued 1988, 97 pp).

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Resource Conservation Service

The National Resource Conservation Service does not currently have an agency-wide visual resource policy or program, but has developed Web-based guidance for incorporating visual resource concerns into agency activities.

U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) regulates utility-scale energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf, and is currently developing a VIA methodology and guidelines for preparation of VIAs for offshore projects. BOEM has sponsored visual impact-related projects and research.