The Impacts of Off-Road Vehicles on Sand Dunes and Surrounding Vegetation
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Off-Roading is a very rapidly growing hobby that gains followers each year. Part of the attraction of it is that there are so many different types of off-roading available to participants. What people don’t think about is how harmful off-roading is to the surrounding environment. Off-roading causes increased erosion and accelerates vegetation loss especially on sand dunes. One such area that shows this is Silver Lake State Park in Michigan. Both remotely sensed images and field work is used to determine whether or not off-roading has a negative impact on sand dune erosion and surrounding vegetation. What was found was that when an area used specifically for off-road vehicles and a pedestrian only area were compared that the off-road vehicles the amount erosion that was in the off-road area was much greater than that of the pedestrian area. Another aspect that was looked at was the off-road vegetation. When the surface areas of vegetated areas was looked at it was found that the off-road area had diminishing, small stands of vegetation where the pedestrian area had larger vegetated areas that were growing. Although there is not enough evidence to definitively conclude that the changes are being caused solely by off-road vehicles.