ASPN - Assessing Socioeconomic Planning Needs

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Welcome to ASPN

ASPN is a web-based decision tool that assists natural resource managers and planners in identifying and prioritizing social and economic planning issues, and provides guidance on appropriate social and economic methods to address their identified issues. It was created by the U.S. Geological Survey in a collaborative effort with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service.

  • ASPN covers the breadth of issues facing natural resource management agencies so it is widely applicable for various resources, plans, and projects.
  • ASPN also realistically accounts for budget and planning time constraints by providing estimated costs and time lengths needed for each of the possible social and economic methods.
  • ASPN is a valuable starting point for natural resource managers and planners to start working with their agencies’ social and economic specialists.


Natural resource management actions have social and economic effects which often require appropriate analyses. Additionally, in the United States, federal agencies are legally mandated to follow guidance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires addressing social and economic effects for actions that may cause biophysical impacts. Most natural resource managers and planners lack training in understanding potential social and economic effects as well as an understanding of the variety of methods and analyses available. Thus, ASPN provides a common framework which provides consistency within and across natural resource management agencies to assist in identification of pertinent social and economic issues while also allowing the social and economic analyses to be tailored to best meet the needs of the specific plan or project.

When Can ASPN Be Used?

ASPN can be used anytime!! ASPN can be used throughout a planning process or be used as a tool to identify potential issues that may be applicable to future management actions. ASPN is useful during the pre-scoping phase as a tool to start thinking about potential social and economic issues as well as to identify potential stakeholders whom may be affected. Thinking about this early in the planning process can help with outreach efforts and with understanding the cost and time needed to address the potential social and economic effects. One can use ASPN during the scoping and post-scoping phases as a way to get guidance on how to address issues that stakeholders identified. ASPN can also be used as a monitoring tool to see if new social and economic issues arise after a management action occurs.

How Should ASPN Be Used?

ASPN is designed to provide a framework for natural resource managers and planners to begin to evaluate management issues on public lands. While this tool can serve to inform managers and planners on the social and economic effects of management alternatives, it is not designed to replace the need for consultation with both internal and external experts. In most cases, the user will need to consult with internal resource specialists prior to or during the ASPN analysis. Following the analysis, the manager will likely need to consult with social science or economic experts to complete the recommended methods of evaluation across the proposed management alternatives.

Additionally, it is well recognized that there are specific legal requirements that must be met throughout the decision making process to ensure compliance with NEPA; ASPN does not serve as a replacement for these legal obligations.

How Does ASPN Work?

The user:
  • Logs In
  • Accesses myAssessments page
  • Reviews or Starts New Assessment or Analysis
  • Answers a Series of Questions
  • Reviews Output
  • Prints and/or Downloads Results and Data


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Page Last Modified: Aug 24 2018

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