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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
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Identifying Resources to Be Monitored

Monitoring should target important or representative resources to enable a comprehensive picture of major project impacts.

All resources cannot be monitored. The amount of monitoring often depends on the uncertainty associated with the impact assessment and impact significance. The following are some guiding principles for identifying resources to be monitored and developing monitoring programs.

  • Consider the area of influence and affected resources only.
  • Monitoring should focus on uncertain impacts and be designed to address those uncertainties.
  • Monitoring should focus on significant impacts. Significant impacts are often (but not necessarily) associated with resources that have regulatory protection or resources that have high economic or societal value.
  • Resources with regulatory status are often the focus of monitoring programs. These monitoring programs are often developed in consultation with regulatory authorities. Resources to be monitored are often identified in permits required for the project.
  • Rather than monitoring all resources, consideration should be given to identifying resources (e.g., species) that can be considered representative of others. Measuring impacts on representative resources can be used to determine overall impacts on similar resources.
  • Certain measures can be used as surrogates for other effects. For instance, changes in vegetation as measured by remote sensing (aerial photography) in an area where contaminants are deposited can be considered representative of general ecosystem effects. Soil erosion can be considered representative of the potential for indirect impacts on cultural resources.
  • Smaller projects (or project phases) that affect few resources or common resources may not need to be monitored.
  • Projects located in previously disturbed areas (often called brownfields) may require relatively little monitoring compared to those located in undeveloped or pristine areas (often called greenfields).
  • The amount of monitoring will depend on project phase. As with mitigation, project phases will likely have very different monitoring needs. Site characterization likely requires little or no monitoring, but monitoring construction and operational impacts can be quite extensive.
  • It is possible that some monitoring activities can be discontinued after a period of time, provided the monitoring results indicate that impacts are not occurring at a significant level and/or that mitigation measures have been successfully implemented.