Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Economic Value of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Economic Value of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation

Article excerpt

Introduction and Related Literature

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation is an important and popular form of recreation, especially in the western United States. Participation in OHV recreation has been growing rapidly in recent years. Hammit and Cole (1998) noted that in 1960 OHV use was not even included on a nation-wide recreation study because use levels were so low. By 1982, however, 11% of people 12 years old or older used wheeled OHVs, with another 3% using snowmobiles. Additionally, on U.S.D.A. Forest Service land, OHV use doubled during the 1970s to 5.3 million user days for wheeled OHVs and 3.3 million user days for snowmobiles (Feuchter, 1980). More recent data reported by Cordell (1999) indicated 14% of Americans 16 years old or older, not including snowmobilers, engaged in off-road driving in 1994-95, representing 27.9 million users. OHVers averaged 685.5 million total user days per year in the U.S. OHV recreation participation increased 44% from 1982-83 to 1994-95. It is notable that proportionally the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains region, of which Arizona is a member, has higher OHV recreation participation than any other region with over 20% of the population participating, a number consistent with Arizona specific studies (Freye, Andereck, Vogt, & Valentine, 1998). Cordell (1999) also suggests the number of people participating in OHV recreation will continue to grow. Projections for participation in OHV recreation to 2050 suggest participation will grow in all regions, especially the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains region, which will see a projected 37% increase. Days of off-road driving are also projected to increase in the U.S., including a 54% increase in the Rocky Mountain region.

OHV recreation activities tend to be controversial uses of land resources largely due to the associated environmental and social impacts (Hammit & Cole, 1998). These environmental and social costs are becoming more important due to the increasing participation rates and projections of increasing OHV recreation activity. From the perspective of the physical environment, OHV activity has been associated with a wide range of negative impacts (Cole, 1993; Liddle, 1997). Such impacts include pollution from emission, fuel leakage and noise; the spread of invasive weeds; vegetation crushing and reduction of species diversity; and destabilization and erosion of soils and dunes (Hosier & Eaton, 1980; Kuss, 1986; Lonsdale & Lane, 1994; Majer, 1980; Priskin, 2003a; 2003b; Rickard, McLachlan, & Kerley, 1994). It has also been found to disturb wildlife and prevent recovery of natural environments from impacts (Godfrey & Godfrey, 1980; Priskin, 2003b). Priskin (2003a; 2003b) concludes that OHV use is extremely harmful from a physical environment perspective.

Off-highway vehicle recreation has also been associated with social costs on recreationists. Most research investigating motorized recreation has focused on comparing motorized with non-motorized recreationists, especially with respect to perceptions of conflict or negative reactions experienced by non-motorized recreationists (Andereck, Vogt, Larkin, & Freye, 2001; Behan, Richards, & Lee, 2001; Ivy, Stewart, & Lui, 1992; Jackson & Wong, 1982). Priskin (2003b) found that, on average, visitors to coastal areas perceived four-wheel driving to be harmful to the environment. As well, studies investigating the nature of conflict in recreation settings have discovered asymmetric antipathy with respect to conflict perceptions where some user groups express more negative evaluations than other groups. Frequently, recreationists report little conflict with others who are participating in the same or similar activities, but do perceive conflict with those engaged in faster, more mechanized, or more technologically oriented activities (Andereck et al., 2001). Asymmetrical conflict has most often been discovered between motorized and non-motorized user groups (Vitters0, Chipeniuk, Skar, & Vistad, 2004) with non-motorized users perceiving conflict with motorized users. …

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