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.
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 that 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 the full range of potential social and economic effects of a management decision as well as an understanding of the variety of methods and analyses available to address these effects. 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.
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 who 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 obtain guidance on how to address issues that stakeholders identified. ASPN can also be used as a monitoring tool to identify whether new social and economic issues arise after a management action occurs.
ASPN is developed through a collaborative research effort between the USGS Fort Collins Science Center’s (FORT) Social and Economic Analysis (SEA) Branch and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ASPN’s technical development is led by the USGS FORT’s Information Science Branch. An updated release, which will extend ASPN’s functionality and incorporate feature improvements identified in ongoing usability testing, is currently in the planning stages.
FORT Support to the Federal Lands Highway Program: Visitor Experience and Resource Protection Data Development
The Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Katie Walters
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Lands Highway Division is seeking methods and frameworks for classifying visitor experiences and impacts to natural resources that public land managers can apply to transportation planning processes. The primary purpose of this suite of tasks is to establish methodological approaches for assessing and managing transportation’s impact on natural resources, cultural resources, and the recreational visitor experience on Federal lands. The project is a joint effort between the Central Federal Lands Highway Division and FORT that will support Long-Range Transportation Plans. These plans are written at the unit level and require comprehensive goals and objectives that set forth a vision for how the unit will maintain and improve its transportation system. Unit-level plans are part of a larger agency transportation planning processes addressing maintenance and improvement on a 20-year horizon. FORT social scientists and natural resource scientists will provide classification and assessment processes for managers to conduct an integrated assessment of social and natural assets, at multiple scales, in conjunction with planning for construction and maintenance of transportation networks and routes on the Federal lands they manage.
River, Reservoir, and Natural Resource Decision Making Using Systems Analysis
An overwhelming variety and diversity of scientific disciplines deals with physical parameters, habitat, water flow, chemistry, biology, social elements, and tradeoffs needed for project-planning purposes related to changes in water management and multiple resource impacts. This research project will extract components from existing decision support systems and where needed, develop other model components for inclusion in interactive decision support systems for hydrologic, hydraulic, and instream flow values. This development, analysis, and support of river, reservoir, and natural resource attributes in decision support systems will focus on being more user-friendly and interactive, and will allow for results to be customized by the user (i.e., resource managers).