Visual Impact Analysis and Utility Corridor Projects

Many energy projects fall under the aegis of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and/or NEPA; these projects often have the potential for visual impacts to historic resources. Preservation Company has extensive experience in assessing visual effect particularly in the varied terrain and vegetative conditions of New England. We have assessed visual effects on hundreds of historic resources of all types including those in settings with high scenic value.

For a recent project, Preservation Company designed a protocol to assess visual effects and completed assessments for nearly 200 New Hampshire historic resources (both historic districts and individual resources) in a report for the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. We also analyzed visual effect, and wrote and produced draft Section 106 Effect Evaluation Tables for 114 resources for submission to the U.S. Department of Energy. Our efforts involved identifying and evaluating the effects of the project on historic resources ranging from individual buildings to large (up to 7,000-acre) cultural landscapes in New Hampshire and Vermont. We employed a number of innovative approaches to assessing visual effects including the use of Google Earth Ground-Level View and Google Earth photo-overlay in conjunction with a digital 3-D model of the project. These methods were used in conjunction with onsite findings and viewshed mapping to insure the most accurate results. Preservation Company worked side-by-side with allied professionals including visual consultants to provide strong defensible conclusions regarding project effects on these resources.

With respect to wind farms and cell towers, in New Hampshire the New Hampshire Division Historical Resources (NHDHR) has specific guidance relating to survey requirements for each type of project. For wind farms, Preservation Company has worked on various projects where these guidelines were used . Cell Tower projects fall under an FCC Nationwide Programmatic Agreement, thus follow a slightly different process from other Section 106 projects. Preservation Company is familiar with, and has worked on various projects following NHDHR guidance on the Nationwide PA for cell towers . Both wind farms and cell towers projects have significant visual components and thus call for special expertise in, and familiarity with, scenic viewsheds.