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OHV Soil Depth

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Thomas Steinhagen

on 13 April 2010

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Transcript of OHV Soil Depth

"A Comparison of Soil Depths: OHV v. Protected Land"
Sam Nardulli, Thomas Steinhagen, Danyah Aossey
ENV101L - Section B Abstract
Our group visited the Cinder Hills OHV Area, only 13 miles north of downtown Flagstaff.
At this location, the land was divided into two separate sections: “protected” and “OHV-designated” land. Although both sections shared the same geologic features, the difference between the two was how they were used: recreation versus non-recreation. In this sense, we hypothesized that the OHV soil, primarily utilized for recreation, would remain more compact than that of the protected land. After a short trip to the OHV location, we measured soil depth at six 10-meter points along a 50-meter transect. These measurements were conducted twice, for each section. Overall, we recognized that our hypothesis was correct, in that the OHV soil was denser than that of the protected soil. Introduction
Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use exploded from 5 million users in 1972 to 51 million users in 2004 (US Forest service, 2009) Hypothesis/Rationale
As previously mentioned, the cinder Hills Recreational area was designated by the government for Off-Highway Vehicle Use. As a result of this civilian recreational use, the soil and cinders would become more compact, as time passed on. In the OHV area there are visible tracks from vehicle use in addition to broken trees and other tree litter. We predicted that if the soil depth was measured and compared in the OHV and protected areas that in the protected areas the litter would be taller and the soil less compacted. (To test this hypothesis a penetrometer is typically used.) Methods
In testing the hypothesis our group set up two 50 meter transects (tape measurers on the ground) on both the OHV area and the protected area. With the transects set flags were used to mark the 0m, 10m, 20m, 30m, 40m, and 50m points. At each of the points, with 10 meters in-between, a small centimeter ruler was inserted into the ground until the hard soil was reached. The distance from the top of the litter and loose soil to the compacted soil was then measured and recorded. These methods were used in recommendation of the lab manual with some modification. In place of a penetrometer, the tool that measures soil depth, a centimeter ruler was used. At first it was planned to do one transect on each the OHV and protected areas (six points on each side) but a decision was made to expand the sample size and have two transects in each of the areas (twelve points on each side). Results
Aside from a few blatant outliers, we discovered that the soil depth was lower in the protected area than in the OHV area. Essentially, the soil is more compact in the OHV than in the protected area.
Individually, there were some similarities between measurements in both OHV and protected sections.
Overall, the protected area had a higher average soil depth (3 cm) than that of the OHV area (2.1 cm). Discussion
In this lab, we originally predicted that the soil would be much more compacted in the OHV area (as a result of recreational use) than in the protected area In 1979, the Cinder Hills Recreation Area was identified by the US Government for official OHV use. The Cinder Hills of Northern Arizona are the remains of an ancient volcanic eruption at Sunset Crater, a few miles north of the site. (Crossley, n.d.) Because these volcanic cinders make up most of the geology of the area, water can easily infiltrate the soil system, it is much more difficult for plants to grow, and the land is much warmer in the summers (due to the cinders' black color). Through our experiment, we discovered that our hypothesis was proven correct: the soil in the OHV area was more compact than the soil in the protected area. Most likely, the OHVs used in the OHV-designated area compact the cinders/soil, making it much more difficult for any vegetation to grow. As a result, there is less vegetation for herbivores, and in turn, less prey for primary consumers. Although this OHV area promotes little to no biological growth, the protected area seems much better off: with much more litter, much more water infiltration, more biotic life, etc. In the end, both sections of land must remain regularly managed and studied: i.e. vegetation management in both sections, as well as trail management in the OHV area. References:
Crossley, J. (n.d.). Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The American Southwest - Arizona. http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/sunset_crater_volcano/national_monument.html. Apr. 13, 2010.
Moline et al. (2010). ENV101 Laboratory Manual.
US Forest Service. (2010). Cinder Hills Off-Highway Vehicle Area. http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/peaks/ohv-cinder-hills.shtml Jan. 13, 2010. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2576/3752563080_e144661500.jpg http://farm1.static.flickr.com/49/134342373_644a89cb10.jpg http://www.atvsource.com/images/article_images/articles/2009/cinder-hills-flagstaff-az/100209-cinder-hills-bermed-corner-track.jpg
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