Visual Resource Inventory Data Standard

IM 2012-055
Instruction Memorandum




January 25, 2012


In Reply Refer To:

9167/8400 (250) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-055

Expires: 09/30/2013                                                                                                                           

To:                   All Field Officials

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Visual Resource Inventory Data Standard

Program Area:  Visual Resources Management and Data Management

Purpose:  The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to transmit the data standard for recording and mapping visual resources existing on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.  This data will be used to ensure that the scenic values of the public lands are considered and documented in Resource Management Plans (RMP), and available for project level National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of impacts on visual values.  The data standard is documented in these three attachments: Visual Resource Inventory (VRI) Data Standard Report, VRI Implementation Guidelines, and VRI Domains.

Policy/Action:  Efforts to inventory and record visual values for the Bureau’s lands must utilize the VRI data standard found in the attachments of this IM.  All offices must use these standards when inventorying, recording, amending, or maintaining electronic VRI data sets.  States are to provide the National Operations Center (NOC) a copy of the VRI data required to meet the needs of the national dataset.  Contact the NOC to determine the proper data delivery options. 

Additional information about the Visual Resource Management (VRM) policy and program may be found at      

Timeframe:  The VRI is effective immediately and shall be used for all new inventories, as well as inventory updates.  The VRIs predating this IM shall be migrated into the new geodatabase before the end of the 2012 calendar year.  However, older inventories may not have sufficient information necessary for successful data migration. To assure efficient use of personnel resources, first coordinate with the NOC VRI Data Steward to review condition and suitability of the visual resource inventory data to complete this task.  The decision to update an existing or conduct a new VRI should be prioritized based on whether or not:

  • an existing inventory exists with all supporting data which includes completed scenic quality and sensitivity level rating forms, mapping overlays, field images and written documentation,
  • field office Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision is being scheduled in which case the VRI  should be coordinated to occur before or in the early phases of the RMP process,
  • the field area is experiencing heavy activity that may result in amending an existing RMP VRM Classes, including, but not limited to recreation development, renewable energy, oil and gas, energy transmission and pipeline development.

Budget Impact:  Each state was provided $80,000, in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 with plans to provide additional funding to states in future fiscal years in order to help subsidize the data management efforts of the Geospatial Services Strategic Plan (GSSP).  That plan establishes the priority national data sets of which VRI is one.  The cost of converting existing data and migrating to the new data standard shall be offset by using the GSSP funding available through state GIS leads.  Cost for updating or producing new inventories for use in Resource Management Plans (RMP) or RMP amendments should be factored into the RMP Preparation Plan or RMP amendment budgets.

Background:  Development of national corporate data standards and databases has been recognized by the Director and the Field Committee as being a critical component to facilitate BLM-wide comprehensive data management and increased efficiency in dealing with information at all levels of the BLM.  To support the development of the BLM corporate data standard for visual resource management, a team of subject matter experts with representatives from field and state offices, the Washington Office (WO), and the NOC collaborated to identify the BLM’s requirements for VRI.  These requirements in the form of a corporate data standard are now being presented to all field offices and must be used for all future efforts as well as to maintain or amend existing visual resource inventories.  Supporting the BLM’s VRI data standard and national geodatabase will strengthen this program across the agency and facilitate timely sharing of our information with partners/public and produce significant long-term savings for the BLM .  Development of a national corporate VRI and geospatial database will also result in fewer data calls and less overall effort by state and local personnel.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  Bureau of Land Management Manual 8400 – Visual Resource Management, and Handbooks H-8410-1 – Visual Resource Inventory, H-8431-1 Visual Resource Contrast Rating.   

Coordination:  Development of these standards was coordinated among the Recreation and Visitor Services Division (WO-250), the National Operation Center Division of Resource Services, Branch of Resource Data (OC-530) and the Branch of Technical Operations (OC-520), representative state program leads, state data administrators, GIS Coordinators, and BLM contractors.

Contacts:  For questions regarding data standards, migrating existing data into the geo-database or initiating a new visual or updating a resource inventory contact Karla Rogers, VRM Specialist/ VRI Data Steward BLM, OC-520 at (303) 236-6354; Thomas Chatfield, NOC Data Management Lead Architect, OC-530 at 303-236-1936 or John McCarty, Chief Landscape Architect WO-250 at 202-912-7284, Christine Hawkinson, Bureau Data Administrator WO-570 202-912-7373. For information regarding sending the data to the NOC contact William Lamb, Spatial Data Coordinator, OC-530 at 303-236-0911.



Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:

Richard C. Hanes                                                        Robert M. Williams

Acting, Assistant Director                                          Division of IRM Governance,WO-560

Renewable Resources and Planning



3 Attachments

       1-Visual Resource Inventory Data Standard Report (28 pp)

       2-Visual Resource Inventory Implementation Guidelines (79 pp)

       3-Visual Resource Inventory Domains (20 pp)