Deep Meaning in Scenic Assessment: Seeing around the Bend


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Many of today’s scenic assessment tools were developed initially to preserve the visual quality of public lands and to mitigate the negative visual impacts of large-scale landscape alterations, such as timber harvesting, mineral extraction, and renewable energy production. However, we are beginning to see more interest today in preserving scenic views on non-public lands. This essay makes a case for additional scenic assessment tools that reveal deep meaning in the landscape. Deep meaning is different than the immediately visible attributes of the landscape. It includes things that come to mind when looking at the landscape and are shared by people familiar with that landscape. Understanding the concept of deep meaning can be difficult. The author describes how deep meaning in the landscape was first revealed to him. Two non-landscape examples are then used to demonstrate different aspects of deep meaning. First, the rocks in a rock garden show the personal nature and attachment of deep meaning. Second, the wording on two wine bottle labels illustrates the distinction between surface meaning and deep meaning. Poetry is then examined as a means of conveying deeper landscape meaning. Lastly, four different landscape contents categories that are used in the proposed Virginia Scenic Viewshed Program demonstrate how deep meaning content can be used in the scenic viewshed assessment. The conclusion is that deep meaning would be a valuable addition to the scenic assessment of non-public land viewsheds, particularly if the assessment process involves the public.




Miller, P.A. Deep Meaning in Scenic Assessment: Seeing around the Bend. Land 2022, 11, 1646.