filed under: maintenance best practices


ORV – Social & Management Issues

Off-road vehicles can have a substantial impact on the experience of other non-motorized visitors on trails that are shared or even on adjacent forest or park settings.

by Jeffrey Marion, Ph.D., Federal Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey


JM ORV Social Effects


ORV riding, particularly ATVs, have been cited as an increasing social problem related to conflicts with other outdoor visitors. Off-road vehicles can have a substantial impact on the experience of other non-motorized visitors on trails that are shared or even on adjacent forest or park settings. The intrusion of engine noises disrupts the natural quiet and solitude that many visitors are seeking in protected areas (Webb & Wilshire 1983). Visitor safety can be threatened by the fast-moving machines along woodland trails due to their limited visibility from changing topography and thick vegetation. Deep ruts and muddiness caused by knobby ORV tires degrades trails, making them difficult and unsafe for use by non-motorized visitors. Experience has shown that these combined effects frequently drive away and displace hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, hunters, and fishermen (Badaracco 1976; Hope 2004).

Published March 2008

About the Author

Jeff Marion is a Federal Scientist with the US Geological Survey, and is based out of Virginia Tech as an Adjunct Professor. His research specialty is Recreation Ecology, in which he investigates the environmental impacts of visitor use in protected natural areas, primarily national parks. His research has focused on visitor impacts to trails and campsites and the development of sustainable “Best Management Practices.” He was a founding member of the Leave No Trace Board of Directors, chaired the committee that guided development of the Leave No Trace principles and practices, and authored the LNT Center’s official book “Leave No Trace in the Outdoors.”

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