Understanding how stakeholders value scenic views: lessons from the Lakes Region and White Mountains of New Hampshire on incorporating viewshed management into environmental decision making

Thumbnail Image
Greenough, Carolyn F.
The Lakes and White Mountain Regions of New Hampshire is a unique setting that is overwhelmingly influenced by strong scenic landscapes containing picturesque valleys and rugged mountain peaks. Aesthetics, especially the scenic beauty of a landscape, is often cited as an important cultural ecosystem service of certain landscapes, especially when a development or alteration is proposed and communities and visitors are afraid of what they might lose. Alterations to these viewsheds are sometimes unavoidable, with human growth comes need for new industry, land development, and new sources of energy. While there is plenty of evidence that people express concern for scenic views, there is very little policy relevant data in 1) how stakeholders value scenic views and 2) how they feel about different types of energy project alterations to landscapes in their communities. Our study aimed to do just that. Through a mixed methods approach we spoke with 26 stakeholders in the Lakes and White Mountain Region of New Hampshire to better understand how stakeholders felt about their viewsheds and potential alterations to them, with a focus on large-scale energy generation and transmission projects. Our findings show that stakeholders place a value on scenic views in multifarious ways including environmentally, economically, and socially. Given the extensive value placed on views by these stakeholders, both state and local policies should include this valuation when examining potential alterations.