Abstract The Athabasca Oil Sands have undergone rapid and extensive strip mine development. This activity is expected to resume as the cost of petroleum continues to rise. 16 spring, summer, and fall LANDSAT color composite transparencies at the 1/1 million scale were evaluated for use in environmental monitoring. Roads, cleared areas, and water features were best imaged on the May 1, 1976 color composite. Summer Product 8 imagery (July and August) was most useful for vegetation analysis and also had the best year to year signature consistency. For this reason, summer Product 8 imagery was considered most suitable for environmental monitoring of the oil sands region. Two summer images were overlayed and registered, then changes were classified using a supervised classification algorithm. Change detection analyses of open water, cleared land, and vegetation appeared to be the most valuable applications of LANDSAT digital data to environmental monitoring of the region.