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Visual Resources Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce visual impacts from oil and gas production.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce visual impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to visual resources are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance), amount and types of equipment, machinery, and vehicles, standing structures, and project emissions (e.g., fugitive dust, air releases). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:
  • In cases where no previous development exists and/or where development will be of a density likely to have a large visual impact, consider using computer simulation and visualization techniques to address potential impacts early in the process.
  • Integrate the site design with the surrounding landscape.
    • To the extent practicable, avoid siting well pads, tank batteries, aboveground pipeline segments, and compressor stations or pump stations on high land features and along "skylines" that are visible from nearby sensitive view points. Conceal these structures or make them less conspicuous.
    • Design, construct, and paint conspicuous structures to blend with the character of the surrounding environment.
    • Bury any power collection cables or lines on the site in a manner that minimizes additional surface disturbance, such as within areas that are already disturbed (e.g., road shoulders).
    • Design the site so that security lights are unnecessary. Where they are necessary, extinguish security lights except when activated by motion detectors.
    • Use nonreflective paints and coatings to reduce reflection and glare. Avoid uncoated galvanized metallic surfaces.
  • Use existing roads and disturbed areas to the maximum extent feasible to avoid additional surface disturbance. Locate access roads to follow natural topography and avoid or minimize side hill cuts wherever possible. Design roads with eventual reclamation in mind.
  • Consider site-specific landscaping in selected areas to provide screening for year-round residents whose property abuts the project.
  • Consider aesthetic offsets as a mitigative option in situations where visual impacts are unavoidable, or where alternative mitigation options are only partially effective or uneconomical.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of an oil and gas development project include:
  • Minimize ground disturbance and control erosion by avoiding steep slopes and by minimizing the amount of surface disturbance needed for roads, well pads, pipelines, and electrical lines. Keep equipment and vehicles within the limits of the initially disturbed areas.
  • Restore disturbed surfaces as closely as possible to their original contour and revegetate them immediately after or contemporaneously with disturbance activities.
  • Use dust suppression techniques to minimize impacts of vehicular traffic and wind on roads and exposed soils.
  • Maintain the right-of-way with low-growing natural vegetation that requires minimal maintenance and that is consistent with local vegetation.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of an oil and gas project include:

Production Controls and Guidelines

  • Maintain the oil and gas production site during operation. Inoperative equipment and poor housekeeping, in general, creates a poor image of the activity in the eyes of the public.
  • Depending on the situation, consider minimizing the amount of vehicular traffic and human activity. Examples include use of pipeline collection systems and remote well site monitoring.

Decommissioning/Site Reclamation

  • Develop and implement a decommissioning plan that includes the removal of all aboveground facilities and reclamation of the site.
  • Return access roads and well pads to as near natural contours as feasible. Revegetate all disturbed areas with plant species appropriate to the site.