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Rocky Mountain Research Station
Forestry Sciences Laboratory - Moscow, Idaho
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Engineering Publications


Project Leader:
William J. Elliot
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Erosion from all terrain vehicle (ATV) trails on National Forest lands

Foltz, R.B. 2006. Erosion from all terrain vehicle (ATV) trails on National Forest lands. Presented at the 2006 ASABE Annual International Meeting. ASABE, Portland Convention Center, Portland, OR. 9-12 July 2006. Paper No. 068012. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. 10 p.

Keywords: All Terrain Vehicles (ATV), recreation, hydraulic conductivity, interrill erodibility, rainfall simulation

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Abstract: The US Forest Service has identified unmanaged all terrain vehicle (ATV) use as a threat to forested lands and grasslands. Some undesirable impacts include severely eroded soils, user-created unplanned roads, disrupted wetland ecosystems, as well as general habitat destruction and degraded water quality throughout forested lands. A study was conducted by the Rocky Mountain Research Station and the San Dimas Technology Development Center to evaluate ATV impacts. Trails were classified into one of three disturbances classes of low, medium, and high, based on loss of litter and vegetation, trail width, and depth of wheel ruts. Following trail condition assessment, rainfall simulations were conducted to measure erosion parameters on each of the three disturbance classes. While infiltration parameters decreased with increased levels of ATV traffic, there was no statistically significant difference among the three classification levels. There was, however, generally a significant difference between undisturbed and the combined disturbed conditions. Similar significant differences existed for interrill erosion. In all cases sediment loss would be expected to increase due to ATV traffic. Information acquired from this study will be used to estimate ATV traffic induced erosion and assist in the managing of ATV use.

Moscow FSL publication no. 2006e