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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Regional Planning

Degree Type

Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



cumulative effects; visual effects; visual resource management; national conservation land; oil and gas visual impacts


The public lands of the United States administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are used for multiple purposes, like conservation, recreation, grazing, mining, logging, and oil and gas development. Many of these activities have the potential to disturb the surface of the landscape, which can negatively impact scenic values. While the BLM has a system for managing visual resources and mitigating the potential impacts of development on visual quality, it does not adequately consider cumulative visual effects, which are the combined impacts of the same type of activity on the environment over space and time. This paper studies the challenges and opportunities faced by managers of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado, a landscape particularly affected by oil and gas development, at measuring and managing cumulative visual effects. This paper also reviews the results of a series of interviews conducted with experts in the field of cumulative visual effects and of a visual preference survey that highlight the strengths and limitations of existing methods for assessing cumulative visual effects. This research paper concludes with a list of recommendations for the BLM to incorporate cumulative visual effects into its existing visual resource management system and details directions for future research on this subject.


First Advisor

Robert L. Ryan

Second Advisor

Elisabeth M. Hamin