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Whitford, Philip; Whitford, Kathryn (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 74 (1986)

Murray, Bruce H.; Law, Charles S.
Simulation in landscape planning and design: the art of visual representation,   pp. 27-33 PDF (3.2 MB)

Page 28

28 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 74 
 One of the most important single actions that has been devised to elevate
the importance of environmental management and visual simulation in this
country, was enactment of Public Law 91-190, the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) in 1969. The purposes of this legislation were: 
 "To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable
harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent
or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health
and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems
and national resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council
on Environmental Quality. (42 U.S.C. 4321)."~ 
 But what does this have to do with visual simulation? 
 The Act goes on into additional detail as exemplified in the next excerpt:
 "(b) in order to carry out the policy set forth in this Act, it is
the continuing
responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practical means, consistent
with other essential considerations of national policy, to improve and coordinate
Federal plans, functions, programs, and resources to the end that the nation
(2) assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive and esthetically
and culturally pleasing surroundings;"4 
 The responsibility for carrying out this mandate at the Federal level is
stipulated in Sec. 102 of the act as follows: 
"Sec. 102 
(A) Utilize a systematic interdisciplinary approach which will insure the
integrated use of natural and social sciences and the environmental design
arts in planning and in decision making which may have an impact on man's
 The scope and purpose of NEPA extends beyond an analysis of the impact of
proposed actions upon "esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings."
 One Federal agency that has taken this responsibility of exploring the area
of visual impact seriously is the Bureau of Land Management, Division of
Recreation and Cultural Resources. In 1980, a well illustrated report was
published under the title 
VISUAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM.6 Whereas the document deals with the
broader subject of visual resource management, one section is devoted entirely
to "VISUAL SIMULATION TECHNIQUES." Several visual simulation techniques
described and illustrated and focus on such projects as highways, dams, power
plants, and overhead transmission line structures to mention a few. In addition
to these subjects, illustrations of various techniques have been provided
as concrete examples of the effectiveness of various techniques to simulate
proposed actions of various types of landscape conditions. 
 The leadership that was provided at the national level through enactment
of NEPA was echoed by various states including Wisconsin. In 1971, Assembly
Bill 875 was enacted and became known as the Wisconsin Environmental Policy
Act (WEPA). Upon reading WEPA, the reader is struck by the similarities in
purposes and language with NEPA. Whereas NEPA mandates environmental impact
assessment by Federal agencies, WEPA focuses upon the mandate of conducting
environmental impact assessments on certain specified actions that could
have deleterious affects upon the environment of Wisconsin. 
 Unfortunately, the administration of WEPA has not been accompanied by consistent
applications of visual simulations as a means of evaluating the acceptability
of certain visual impacts that accompany developmental actions in Wisconsin.
 A number of recent case studies illustrate the usefulness of visual simulations
in environmental decision-making. These applica 

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