Chapter 8: Major Elements

Chapter 8: Landscape Evaluation
and Land Use
Earth scientists as part of evaluation team provide info on:
 site history (previous use)
 physical and chemical properties of Earth materials
 soil type, stability/engineering properties, and
thickness to bedrock
 suitability for waste disposal
 bedrock type, stability/engineering properties
 contamination
 hazard evaluation
 water availability, quantity, quality
Environmental Geology Maps
Distribution of geologic, hydrologic, etc. info.
 Interpretive Environmental Geology Maps
Suitability of areas for a specific land use
 Ideally a series of maps, one for each possible land use
 Color code for suitability (yes, maybe, no)
 soil maps
 suitability for landfill
 stable foundations
 slope stability
 groundwater contamination
 earthquake vulnerability, etc.
Geology Maps
Map showing the
vulnerability of aquifier
contamination, New
Geology Maps
Map showing the major
sources of potential
groundwater contamination,
New Mexico
Environmental Geology Maps
Environmental Resource Units (ERUs)
Multidisciplinary approach: studies total
natural environment (geo, hydro, bio)
ERU = areas with similar physical and
biological characteristics
Used to establish patterns of land use and
suitability in multidisciplinary approach
Environmental Geology Maps
Environmental Resource Units (ERUs)
10.4 km2 study site in Morrison Colorado test site
Environmental Resource Units (ERUs)
Floodplain forest
Pleistocene grassland
Hogback wood and
scarp slope
dip slope
Environmental Geology Maps
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Computer composite maps capable of storing and
displaying geographic distribution of anything
The ability to combine and create maps of the
combinations is a powerful technique
Site Selection
Evaluation of places for various human activities
 Can be quite multidisciplinary
Assure that development is both possible and
compatible with local environment
Want to know all that you can before develop
Site Selection
Finally proceed to final site evaluation: specific criteria dep
on intended use, but 2 common approaches:
1) Cost-Benefit Analysis
 Assess long-range desirability of a project
 Calculate estimates of total benefits in $ and compare
to costs
 Best site has lowest C/B
Site Selection
Finally proceed to final site evaluation: specific criteria dep
on intended use, but 2 common approaches:
2) Physiographic Determinism
 Apply ecological principles in design
 Maximize social benefit while minimizing social
 Consider physical, social, & aesthetic data of site
itself do determine proper use and design
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
NEPA (1969) required all major federal actions which
possibly affect the quality of the environment be
preceded by an evaluation of the project and its impact
 Council of Environmental Quality set forth guidelines
for EISs (revised in 1979) . The major components are:
 Summary Statement of purpose and need for the
 Rigorous comparison of reasonable alternatives
 Succinct description of the area to be affected
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
Discussion of the environmental consequences of the
proposed project and alternatives which must include:
 Direct and indirect effects
 Energy requirements and conservation
 Resource depletion
 Impact on urban quality and cultural/historical
 Possible conflicts with state and local land-use plans
 Mitigation measures
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
Initial NEPA EIS process criticized for  mountains
of paperwork that could obscure critical issues
1979 revisions introduced concept of scoping:
preliminary identification of major environmental
issues that require more detailed evaluation early in the
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
Identify actions that will avoid, lessen, or compensate
for anticipated adverse impact
If an action involves a wetland, may either avoid the
wetland area or compensate by enhancing or creating
wetland elsewhere
NEPA requires address of this in EIS, but doesn’t
require implementation of any measures
 However, DEIS is reviewed by many agencies and
citizen’s groups that may require action
Environmental Assessments in cases where full EIS
deemed unnecessary
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
State Environment Impact Legislation
About half of the states have followed the federal lead,
either following NEPA for state and municipal projects
or enacting their own SEPAs
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
Negative Declarations (D’s of non-significant impact)
 Filed when an agency determines no significant impact
 In lieu of full EIS: much less rigorous and need not
consider alternatives
 Many try this first, but may be required to do full
EIS if not grounds for ND
Mitigated Negative Declarations
 Filed when decided that initial project would 
significant environment impact, but that it can be
modified so as to reduce them to ~ insignificance
Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
Big projects use teams of investigators with varied
Good case histories:
 Cape Hattaras
 San Joaquin Valley
Land Use and Planning
Most land use in USA is agriculture or forest
Only about 3% or area is urban
Conversion of rural  non-ag is several thousand
~ half  wilderness, parks, recreation, wildlife
~ half  urban, transportation, other facilities
Scenic Resources
Land Use Options
Multiple Use
Using the same land for > 1 purpose
 ball field doubles as aquifer recharge basin
 horse trails in floodplain
 wind generators in agricultural fields
Sequential Use
One use follows another
 Reclaimed mine used for underground storage,
 Walla Walla landfill  ballparks
 Gravel pits  parking lots
Land Use Planning
Nation, State, or City may decide to enact land-use
legislation for planning
Comprehensive or General Plans
Used as a policy guide for development decisions
over a 10-20 yr period
 Sets forth intended basic land uses
 Indicates zoning and subdivision regulation
 Regulated in separate specific ordinances
 Control slopes, floodplain development, soils...
 Residential
 Commerical
 Industrial
 Open spaces
Comprehensive or General Plans
Land Management
 Follow-up to planning
 Possible impacts that need to be monitored
Natural processes: floods, landslides, erosion...
Impact of human use on chemistry, biology, resources...
Protection of lives and property
Protection of water quality and supply
Protection of wildlife
Ecosystem protection
Recreation and public access
Emergency Planning (regulation of response)
Environmental Law
NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) 1969, 1977
 EPA establishes and enforces air and water quality standards
Federal Water Pollution Act (1956) req. municipal sewage treatment
Clean Air Act (1963) and Air Quality Act (1965) amended in 1970 and
1990: addresses all sorts of air pollution (autos, CFCs, ozone...)
Solid Waste Disposal Act (1965) aimed at municipal dumps
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976)
Toxic Substances and Control Act (1976) req. tests and control
Clean Water Act (1977) addresses wider range of pollution
CERCLA (Comprehensive Env. Resource, Compensation, and Liability
Act) (1980)  Superfund
NEPA also set up requirement of EIS or EA (and enforces)
 CEQ (Council on Env. Quality) promotes interest and
research in environment and implements