Application of airborne LiDAR and GIS in modeling trail erosion along the Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire, USA

Landscape and Urban Planning
By:  and 

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Abstract

Recreational activities can negatively affect protected area landscapes and resources and soil erosion is frequently cited as the most significant long-term impact to recreational trails. Comprehensive modeling of soil loss on trails can identify influential factors that managers can manipulate to design and manage more sustainable trails. Field measurements assessed soil loss as the mean vertical depth along 135 trail transects across the Appalachian Trail sampled along three 5km trail segments in the White Mountains National Forest of New Hampshire. Using LiDAR data to accurately measure terrain characteristics that influence trail erosion can improve predictive models of trail system soil loss. Borrowing from geomorphic and agricultural soil erosion models, this study evaluated a variety of terrain and hydrology characteristics to model trail soil loss at three spatial scales: transect, trail corridor, and watershed. The model for each spatial scale and a combined model are presented. The adjusted R2 explaining variation in soil loss is 0.57 using variables from all spatial scales, a substantial improvement on previous trail erosion models. Environmental and trail design factors such as slope and watershed flow length were found to be significantly correlated to soil loss and have implications for sustainable trail design and management.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Application of airborne LiDAR and GIS in modeling trail erosion along the Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire, USA
Series title Landscape and Urban Planning
DOI 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2020.103765
Volume 198
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 103765, 9 p.
Country United States
State New Hampshire
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