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Where Does Soil Eroded From ATV Trails Go?

Submitted by jdp on Thu, 02/18/2021 - 07:52 am

Off-road vehicle trails, especially those used extensively by ATVs (all terrain vehicles, four-wheelers, quads), are notorious for producing a lot of soil erosion. Over a period of several years, I was involved in a project funded by the U.S. Forest Service, to determine where the soil eroded from trails in the Wolf Pen Gap ATV trail system in the Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas was going. That the trails are eroding was never in question--the questions were how much and how fast, what the off-trail impacts on streams are, and where the eroded sediment goes.

Sediment-laden runoff from an ATV trail in the Wolf Pen Gap complex near Mena, Arkansas.


The last of a series of articles based on this work has finally been published, as shown below!


This was actually the second-to-last that we produced, but it took longer to get published. The last one was in print last year:


My co-authors in these two were Dan Marion, recently retired as a research hydrologist for the USFS (and an adjunct professor at Kentucky), and Katie Kilcoyne, a UK graduate who at the time we did this work was a geography major at Kentucky. 

A complete bibliography of our work over the years on the ATV trails is below. Authors marked with asterisks were University of Kentucky students at the time the articles were submitted:

Marion, D.A., Phillips, J.D., Yocum, C., *Jahnz, J., 2019. Sediment availability and off-highway vehicle trails in the Ouachita Mountains, USA. Journal of the American Water Resources Association  

Phillips, J.D., Marion, D.A., *Kilcoyne, K. 2021. Fine sediment storage in an eroding forest trail system. Physical Geography 42, 50-72. (attached) 

Phillips, J.D., Marion, D.A., *Kilcoyne, K. 2020. Concentration and divergence of sediment in an erosional landscape. Geomorphology 367: 107281. 

Marion, D.A., Phillips, J.D., Yocum, C., *Mehlhope, S.H., 2014. Stream channel responses and soil loss at off-highway vehicle stream crossings in the Ouachita National Forest. Geomorphology216: 40-52. 

Phillips, J.D., Marion, D.A., 2019. Coarse sediment storage and connectivity and off-highway vehicle use, Board Camp Creek, Arkansas. Geomorphology 344: 99-112.


Posted 18 February 2021