GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 182-17
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WOLFF, Olivia N., Geography Department, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701

Wayne National Forest is located in southeastern Ohio within the Appalachian Plateau physiographic province.The Ironton forest unit supports 102 kilometers of off-road vehicle traffic as well as hiking and horse-riding trails. This research aims to quantify soil erosion within the Ironton Unit of Wayne National Forest on off-road vehicle trails and hiking trails which has never been collected before. This research aims to answer the question, how much soil is being eroded from vehicle and hiking trails in the Ironton Unit of Wayne National Forest.

The impacts of off-road vehicles have been studied extensively in arid landscapes throughout the western part of the United States. However, most research was conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a large focus on the compaction of sandy sediments. Recent research on off-road vehicle impacts is sparse, especially in deciduous vegetation environments with silty and clayey soils. Most literature related to impacts of off-road vehicles note the significance of soil compaction and an increased generation of runoff accompanied by the formation of rills. Soil degradation is also important to consider when monitoring the impacts of off-road vehicles. Some research has shown the reduction of organic carbon content and soil moisture within trails compacted from repeated usage.

Trail erosion rates and related data will be collected from 50-meter long segments of four off-road vehicle trails and two hiking trails. Penetrometer, cross section, and bulk density data will be collected from the six study segments four times within the year 2019. Sample segments will be located at settings that appear to be representative of the trail system and the physical environment. Samples will be collected early, during, and after the riding season to evaluate the extent of soil erosion along the trails due to seasonal use. Data will consist of cross profiles measured along the segments, sediment samples for grain size and water content, and penetrometer measurements for compaction.

Data collection will conclude at the end at the end of the year 2019. Expected results include the increased compaction of soil samples as the trail riding season progresses, decreased water content near the center of the trail, and increased water runoff resulting from trail compaction.