The continued growth of off-highway vehicle (OHV) activities – demonstrated by the dramatic increase in OHV sales, number of users, and areas experiencing OHV use – has elevated concerns about their ecological effects, the impacts on wildlife, and the sustainability of OHV use on secondary and tertiary road networks. Conflicts between visitors and wildlife are raising concerns about system resiliency and sustainable management. In order to quantify the spatial and temporal impacts of OHV use it is imperative to know about the timing and patterns of vehicle use. This study tested and used multiple vehicle-counter types to study vehicular OHV use patterns and volume throughout a mountainous road network in western Colorado. OHV counts were analyzed by time of day, day of week, season, and year. While daily use peaked within a two to three hour range for all sites, the overall volume of use varied among sites on an annual basis. The data also showed that there are at least two distinct patterns of OHV use: one dominated by a majority of use on weekends, and the other with continuous use throughout the week. This project provided important, but rarely captured, metrics about patterns of OHV use in a remote, mountainous region of Colorado. The techniques described here can provide land managers with a quantitative evaluation of OHV use across the landscape, an essential foundation for travel management planning. They also provide researchers with robust tools to further investigate the impacts of OHV use.
Additional publication details
Monitoring intensity and patterns of off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in remote areas of the western USA