Effects of Off-Highway Vehicles on Soil Environments
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Rapid growth in off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in North America leads to major concerns about potential impacts on the environment. OHVs are used in a multitude of terrains which allows these vehicles to have many more uses than just a sport because they can get places nothing else can. Impacts of OHV traffic on infiltration rate and soil erosion were evaluated in five driven and non-driven sites located at Cliffs Insane Terrain in Marseille, IL. Though differences were not significant, there was a trend of decreased infiltration rates on the driven areas compared to the non-driven areas. In areas with continuous vehicular traffic, soil erosion and compaction were also moderately, but not significantly, higher. The lack of significant changes in soil structure could be due to good maintenance practices; the Cliffs Insane Terrain has been maintained monthly by soil grading machines, in order to minimize the impact of the environment and to keep the terrain park open to all types of OHV. The increasing number of OHV riders compounded with the problem of decreasing riding areas has caused many agencies to implement such best management practices (BMPs) as the Cliffs Insane Terrain has, which should reduce the amount of soil erosion and sediment loss on trails. These BMPs along with maintenance are potential solutions to minimize the impact because they give guidelines on the proper way to wheel among all types of terrains. This is because the impact is concentrated to managed areas, preventing additional damage from the development of new trails.
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