RAPID/BulkTransmission/Washington/Aesthetic & Recreational

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Washington Bulk Transmission Aesthetic & Recreational Resource Assessment(17-WA)

Developers should be aware that the potential effects of transmission projects on visual resources has been a challenge in siting transmission facilities. Transmission line projects may cause visual contrast within the landscapes they cross due to their length, size and the regular geometric forms of the transmission towers. These projects may affect sensitive viewers (i.e., residents, recreationist, etc.) located along the right-of-way.

Analysis of impacts to visual resources as a result of a transmission line project may be required as part of a federal, state or local permitting process. For example, at the federal level, a project required to go through the NEPA process must evaluate impacts to visual resources. In addition, some public agencies have requirements or provide guidelines for evaluating and assessing impacts to visual resources for projects that cross their jurisdiction. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have developed methodologies for inventorying visual resources and assessing visual impacts on lands under their respective jurisdictions.

As noted under the Washington State Environmental Policy Act Process, aesthetic resources are evaluated as part of the state’s Environmental Checklist. The purpose of the Environmental Checklist is to provide information to help applicants and agencies identify impacts from the project proposal (and to reduce or avoid impacts from the proposal, if it can be done) and to help the agency decide whether an Environmental Impact State is required. According to the Environmental Checklist the applicant must address the following as they apply to aesthetics:

  • What is the tallest height of any proposed structure(s), not including antennas; what is the principal exterior building material(s) proposed?
  • What views in the immediate vicinity would be altered or obstructed?
  • Proposed measures to reduce or control aesthetic impacts, if any:

The Environmental Checklist does not include specific or required guidelines or methodologies for determining impacts to aesthetics.

Developers should also review local government resource management plans, comprehensive plans, regulations, etc. to identify any permit requirements as they relate to visual/aesthetic resources.

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

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