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Hydropower Aesthetic and Recreational Resource Assessment Overview (17)

A hydropower developer should consider the proposed project’s impact on aesthetic and visual resources. Aesthetic or visual resources are often considered during the land use planning process to ensure appropriate views are preserved for the public's recreational and other uses.

Possible sources of visual impacts during construction and operation of a hydropower facility include:

  • Ground disturbance and vegetation removal that produce contrasts of color, form, texture, and line. Such disturbances could occur as a result of excavation for foundations and ancillary structures, trenching in bury pipelines, grading and surface roads; clearing and leveling staging areas, stockpiling soil, and soil scars and exposed slope faces resulting from excavation, leveling, and equipment movement;
  • River modifications from structures placed in or across the river;
  • The creation of a head pond or impoundment;
  • Road development (new roads, or expansion of existing roads) and parking areas, depending on the route relative to surface contours, and width, length, and surface treatment of the roads;
  • Conspicuous and frequent small-vehicle traffic for worker access and frequent large-equipment traffic (trucks, graders, excavators, and cranes) for road construction, site preparation, and construction of the facility that could produce visible activity and fugitive dust in dry soils;
  • Temporary presence of large equipment, producing emissions while operational and creating visible exhaust plumes; and
  • Support facilities and fencing associated with the construction work.
Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development – Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Website.


Aesthetic and Recreational Resource Assessment Overview Process

17.1 to 17.2 – Will the Project Be Located On or Near a Wild and Scenic River?

If the project is located on or near a wild or scenic river the developer may require federal approval, pursuant to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

In 1968, Congress passed PL 90-542, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, in order to protect rivers of particular scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values from impact on their free-flowing condition. Free-flowing condition refers to "existing or flowing in natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, rip-rapping, or other modifications of the waterway." Nothing...shall preclude licensing of, or assistance to, developments below or above a wild, scenic or recreational river area or on any stream tributary thereto which will not invade the area or unreasonably diminish the scenic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values present in the area on the date of designation of a river as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. ( Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - Sec. 7(a)).

A wild, scenic or recreational river area eligible to be included in the national wild and scenic rivers system is a free-flowing stream and the related adjacent land area that possesses one or more of the values referred to in Section 1, subsection (b) of this Act. Every wild, scenic or recreational river in its free-flowing condition, or upon restoration to this condition, shall be considered eligible for inclusion in the national wild and scenic rivers system and, if included, shall be classified, designated, and administered as one of the following:

(1) Wild river areas -- Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
(2) Scenic river areas -- Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
(3) Recreational river areas -- Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past. ( Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - Sec. 2(b)).

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cannot license the construction of any dam, water conduit, reservoir, powerhouse, transmission line, or other project works under the Federal Power Act, on or directly affecting any river which is included or designated for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act may also limit FERC’s authority to relicense an existing hydropower project or to license or exempt a project located below, above, or on a stream tributary to a designated river or congressionally authorized study river. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1278(a)-(b).

For more information, see:

Wild & Scenic Rivers Act Section 7 Review:
17-FD-a

17.3 to 17.4 – Are Any State Aesthetic or Recreational Approvals Required?

A state may require a hydropower developer to obtain approval, if a proposed project will affect line of sight, create excess noise, affect a protected aesthetic or recreational resource impact other resources.

Alaska

Alaska does not require any state specific aesthetic or recreational approvals for hydropower projects.

Arkansas

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Arkansas.

California

California does not require any state specific aesthetic or recreational approvals for hydropower projects.

Colorado

Colorado does not require any state specific aesthetic or recreational approvals for hydropower projects.

Illinois

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Illinois.

Indiana

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Indiana.

Iowa

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Iowa.

Kentucky

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Kentucky.

Louisiana

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Louisiana.

Minnesota

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Minnesota.

Missouri

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Missouri.

Mississippi

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Mississippi.


New York

In New York, a hydropower developer may need to a Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation if the proposed project will be located within a designated river segment area.

A list and description of the state’s designated wild, scenic or recreational river segments are available at the DEC’s New York Department of Environmental Conservation – Wild, Scenic and Recreational System Overview: Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Webpage. For more information, see:

State Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Permit:
17-NY-a

North Dakota

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in North Dakota.

Ohio

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Ohio.

Pennsylvania

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Pennsylvania.

Tennessee

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Tennessee.

Vermont

Vermont does not require any state specific aesthetic or recreational approvals for hydropower projects.

Washington

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Washington.

West Virginia

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in West Virginia.

Wisconsin

Currently, the RAPID Toolkit does not have state specific content regarding and recreational resource issues for hydropower development in Wisconsin.

17.5 – No Permit Needed; Continue with Project




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