Sediment availability and erosion rates on off‐highway vehicle trails in the Ouachita Mountains, USA
Factors influencing sediment availability are assessed and erosion rates are quantified for an offhighway vehicle (OHV) trail system in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. As of May 2012, the Wolf Pen Gap trail system included 77.0 km of "trails" which consist of county roads; open and closed Forest Service roads; and open and closed OHV trails. For a given trail length, the sediment volume available to be eroded is determined by bare trail width and sediment depth. Four condition types are defined that group trail sections based on statistically different trail widths or depths. Trail construction method appears to influence sediment availability differences more than erosion potential (as indexed by trail slope gradient and length). The range for annual trail erosion rates is estimated as 75 and 210 tonne/ha/yr. The high and low rates are obtained using two independent methods. The 210 tonne/ha/yr rate is computed from mean sediment capture at 30 sediment traps installed for 0.5–1.0 year. The 75 tonne/ha/yr rate is computed assuming all available trail sediment measured in a one-time sampling is eroded over the next year. We argue in support of this assumption and suggest both rate values may be conservative. Trail erosion rates and sediment trap observations indicate frequent trap cleanout will be needed to continue sediment capture from All Terrain Vehicle trails.